Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Record gets an 'F'

The park side under record snowfall in the Bli...Image via Wikipedia

All we can handle

Besides being as dull as dishwater, the banger headline on the front page of The Record today is simply wrong. This blizzard -- like most major snowstorms in the last few decades -- was way too much to handle for state, county and municipal snow-clearing crews.

It's hard to understand how dozens of editors and reporters can work on a story and almost totally ignore the frustration and anger of drivers, mass-transit users and pedestrians over their inability to get around. 

Nothing has changed in a decade. When Editor Francis Scandale came here from the Denver Post in January 2001, he was outraged by inadequate coverage of the poor response to the first major snowstorm of the year.

Today, pedestrians really get the back of the newspaper's hand, despite being forced by unshoveled sidewalks to endanger themselves by walking  in the street. 

Most bus stops go uncleared, forcing riders to wait in the street or balance themselves on top of snowbanks.

This morning, on a two-mile drive, it was easy to see how Hackensack residents weren't well-served, with many sidewalks still covered by snow and corners of major intersections uncleared, challenging drivers and pedestrians. Even Hackensack Avenue, a major street, didn't have two clear lanes in each direction.

Other newspapers didn't hesitate to go to bat for residents.

Staten Island Advance: 

City gets an 'F'

New York Post: 

Fury as city is paralyzed by blizzard
Ice scream!

Daily News: 

Blizzard stops city cold, and transit officials 
warn today's no picnic either

Despite all their so-called experience, Scandale, head Assignment Editor Deirdre Sykes, Production Editor Liz Houlton and all their clueless minions don't seem to get it and don't seem to care one bit about readers. 

In a region that weathers several major snowstorms each year, towns should be able to clear streets, intersections and bus stops quickly, and enforce shoveling of sidewalks. If you're going to send out dozens of reporters, it would be simple to rate towns on snow clearing, but it's something the Woodland Park daily has never done.

The front-page map of snowfall omits Hackensack, where the paper was founded in 1895 and prospered for more than 110 years. 

The reporter sent to Hackensack on Monday made just two stops: Dunkin' Donuts and Target. She must have been driving with blinders on not to see how poorly some streets had been cleared.

Even Features Editor Barbara Jaeger dropped the ball in Better Living, publishing a story on snow-clearing gear only today -- after the storm passed.

A final note: My paper was never delivered on Monday.


On A-1 today, the paper reports NJ Transit service was to resume at 12:01 a.m. On A-6, the continuation of the blizzard roundup, the same bus service "was expected to resume after midnight this morning." Huh?

Road Warrior Columnist John Cichowski made a rare trip out of the office to see how well roads had been cleared. 

He found two pedestrians, calling them "compulsive about marching on foot through snow." 

They turned out to be compulsive drinkers, as well, maybe even alcoholics. He quoted both as saying they needed a drink. He apparently saw no one walking in the street -- inches away from passing cars -- because of the miles and miles of uncleared sidewalks.

This man loves cars so much he hardly ever writes about mass transit. He even calls his car "Mr. Honda" and refers to it as a "family member." I wonder what his wife and children think about that. 

He reports that "every footbridge over Route 4, as well as the steps to them, appeared to be swept clean." Of course, he missed the snowed-under Hackensack Avenue sidewalk over Route 4, near The Shops at Riverside. 

It is never shoveled, because the city and county argue over who has responsibility for it.

Readers are the ones who need a drink after plowing through Chick's irrelevant drivel.
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  1. Target, Dunkin Donuts: Both on River Street -- the same thoroughfare as the county administration building, the county courthouse, the county jail, and, by extension, Riverside Square Mall.

    OF COURSE that road was plowed.

    The reporter should have headed elsewhere. In fact, all of the reporters should have gone out and looked for themselves. But isn't it ironic: A lot of them don't live in the area. They take Route 80 (a heavily traveled interstate that is ALWAYS cleared first) to work and then back home again after making phone calls.

    True story: In the wake of Hurricane Flood, we asked reporters what type of havoc was wrought in their towns. A reporter named Pia Sarkar wrote a brief on how Westwood survived with no significant damage. We published it.

    The next day I got a call from a cop who said FIFTY homes were flooded out; that the people who lived in them had to be relocated; and that some were in danger of being condemned.

    When I asked her about it, Sarkar said she'd called the mayor and he told her everything was OK.

    THIS is reporting?

    THIS is what you get.

    You've got amateurs supervising amateurs. Joseph? Sforza? Please. Whitby? If anyone could give less of a shit than him, I've yet to meet that person.

    We have to read other pubs to find out what's up. And therein lies the irony: NJMG's weeklies do a GREAT job of covering their towns. All that Giggling Boy and Shrieking Sykes had to do was designate an editor and reporter to collect all that info, assess, publish.

    Of course, that's not how they "do" things. But in these times, wouldn't it make so much sense?

  2. Jerry D is referring to Hurricane Floyd.

  3. I think you mean Tropical Storm Floyd. But Jerry has some very valid points.


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