Wednesday, January 12, 2011

How many editors does it take?

Looking east at Cliffside Park High School on ...Image via Wikipedia
The Record's coverage of a Cliffside Park murder could have been produced by a  journalism class at the high school, above. The story also brought reporter Monsy Alvarado out of hibernation.

How many editors does it take to get the name right of a man whose body parts were found scattered around Cliffside Park? How many editors does it take to find out if he lived alone or with another man, and whether that man was questioned by police on Monday, the day of the grisly discovery?

Today, as on so many days in the past, The Record of Woodland Park's assignment desk under Editor Deirdre Sykes demonstrates just how clueless it is.  

Eye on The Record doesn't know if Sykes or one of her minions (Dan Sforza, Rich Whitby, Christina Joseph et al.) supervised news gathering for this Page 1 story on Monday and Tuesday. But the result is the same: a first-day story that is so woefully inadequate -- a story that tells readers nothing meaningful -- it could have been produced by high school- or college-level reporters.

Misspelling the victim's name is bad enough. Are we to believe Staff Writer Matthew Van Dusen also couldn't find anyone besides the victim's employer to tell readers who this man was and what may have led to his death? 

Even today's story doesn't answer the obvious question of whether the two men arrested in the slaying and dismemberment -- the victim's roommate and "another man" -- formed a love triangle with the victim, robbed him or what?

Sykes' name tag on her computer in Hackensack said "Laughs A Lot." It probably should have said "Laughable."

Late news -- very late

On Saturday's Arizona shootings -- which Editor Francis Scandale underplayed so badly on Sunday -- did none of the editors think to scour the victims' list for a New Jersey grandmother who was one of six people slain, instead of getting the story a day late? North Jersey snowbirds have flocked to warmer climates for decades. Do the assignment editors even know that?

Governor Christie's State of the State speech Tuesday is the lead A-1 story today. It's where Christie pats himself on the back for the state's "changed direction," without hardly any mention of all the financial pain he has visited on the middle and working classes, all the cuts in mass transit, education and other programs; and all the breaks he gave to millionaires.

The final element on A-1 today is on the third winter storm. At least we don't have to wade through more mindless neighing by Staff Writer John Brennan, whose horseshit on the future of racing led the paper Tuesday.

Mercedes-Benz news page

Another six-column Benzel-Busch auto dealer ad is splashed across the middle of L-1, the front page of a section that once was Sykes' pride and joy.

Columnist John Cichowski writes again about the new crosswalk law, and seems to be firmly in the corner of all those impatient, angry and time-challenged drivers who have made pedestrians an endangered species in North Jersey.

The only mass transit news I could find today is a brief on L-2 about a woman who sat on a needle on an NJ Transit bus in Englewood.

Police, fire and court stories dominate Local again. There is no Hackensack or Teaneck news today. 

Hackensack reporter Monsy Alvarado hasn't written anything about the city for three weeks now, but she helped Van Dusen play catch-up today on the dismemberment story -- likely because her Spanish-speaking ability was needed on a story in which the victim, relatives and suspects are Hispanic.

Food deprivation

In Better Living, Food Editor Susan Leigh Sherrill tells readers that to make up for holiday excesses, she is giving up wine with dinner during the week and eating "minimal sweets."

Sherrill also has put readers of the food pages on a crash diet, producing even less than her predecessor, Bill Pitcher, if you can imagine that. Pitcher was paid $71,000 a year. 

Sherrill's salary is unknown. She works for both (201) magazine and The Record, publications of the Borg family's North Jersey Media Group. Her husband, photographer Ted Axelrod, also rides on the NJMG gravy train.

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