Saturday, January 29, 2011

Lazy staffers just love those reports

New Jersey State PoliceImage via Wikipedia
The Record somehow missed more than 400 street gang members in Englewood.

What would the editors and reporters of The Record do without all those reports that come flowing out of the Woodland Park newsroom's fax machines? Who doesn't issue them? Government agencies, authorities, law enforcement, social services -- all produce reports and surveys galore.

Transportation reporter Karen Rouse turns reports from the New Jersey Turnpike Authority into front page stories. Why should she leave the office to ride and rate mass transit? That's so labor intensive. A report or survey is a news story delivered in a neat package, which all the editors love.

Today, Staff Writers Giovanna Fabiano and Michelle Lee turn a survey on street gangs from the New Jersey State Police into a Page 1 story. 

They report that Englewood -- the city Fabiano is assigned to cover -- has the largest number of gang members of any community in Bergen County (435). Hackensack has only 20, according to the report, prompting some officials to question the accuracy of the survey.

Gee, has Fabiano reported on gang activity in Englewood in the last year or two? The city has three major gangs -- Bloods, Crips and Latin Kings -- the police chief tells the paper.

No. Fabiano's spotty coverage of Englewood hasn't included gangs or much of anything else. She doesn't report on public schools, which are heavily minority; downtown, which has empty storefronts, horrendous traffic and limited parking; the Jamaican or Latino communities; or illegal immigrants and illegal housing.

It's local news, stupid

The Record is filled with international news every day, but readers never got a hint of the troubles in Egypt until rioting broke out. Today, Editor Francis Scandale again makes the mistake of running a photo from Cairo on A-1 -- an image readers know well from TV news coverage this week -- when he should have put a photo and interviews with Egyptian immigrants in Jersey City out front.

An editorial on A-13 today scolds towns, school districts and counties that don't make their budgets available online.  Editorial Page Editor Alfred P. Doblin knows well how bad Hackensack reporter Monsy Alvarado and other staffers look by not writing about budget deliberations. 

He's not the mountain

Head Assignment Editor Deirdre Sykes sent word down from Garret Mountain to clear the top of the Local front for the third major story on Rep. Scott Garrett, R-N.J., since the mid-term congressional elections in November. 

The lead story on A-1 on Friday also included a good deal about the conservative's new-found power after Republicans took control of the House. Are Scandale and Sykes planning coverage or just scrambling to fill holes?

Most of the 2011 PEOPLE TO WATCH designated by Sykes have been statewide or national figures. The January feature is scheduled to end in two days, but broke precedent by including a luxury auto dealer's six-column ad above the fold.

Why is Staff Writer Stephanie Akin's compelling report on tensions between residents and outsiders who use the Fair Lawn Senior Center on L-3 and not on the L-1 today?

Insensitive to elderly

On the Better Living front today, a major story on cutting your grocery bills declares:
"Coupons aren't just for old ladies anymore."
Didn't George Cubanski or any other editor see that and consider it insensitive to the elderly? People of all ages use coupons. What was Staff Writer Kara Yorio thinking?

Is Yorio one of the many inexperienced 20- and 30-year-olds hired in recent years by Features Director Barbara Jaeger, who has a reputation for getting rid of older workers, including Trudy Walz, Patricia Mack, and John Zeaman?

When I was still at The Record, anyone who applied to work in Jaeger's department and didn't get the job would console themselves by saying that at least they didn't have to work with the most difficult, unpleasant and stingiest supervisor in the newsroom.

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