Sunday, January 2, 2011

Leading the paper with old news

labeled outline map of municipalitiesImage via Wikipedia
The shape of home rule is easy to see on this Bergen County map.

On The Record's front page today, Staff Writer Michael Gartland reports the old news of how outgoing Bergen County Democrats approved numerous lame-duck appointments and retroactive raises, but he doesn't get to the real news until the continuation page (A-8): the new Republican county executive will try to rescind them. 

Why wasn't that the lead paragraph?

You'd expect to see the Saturday swearing-in photos of Kathleen Donovan, the new executive, and the new Republican freeholders with the jump of Gartland's story on A-8, but you'll have to search the paper for them. 

It's not clear when Donovan was sworn in. The cutline on L-3 describes a "midnight ceremony" at the home of Alan Marcus in Saddle River. Marcus is not identified further.

There's more clunky packaging of the news, with the front page dominated by a story on the effort to meet the September deadline for opening the 9/11 memorial at Ground Zero -- a decade after the terrorist attacks. 

Editor Francis Scandale must think readers are sitting on the edge of their seats and biting their fingernails awaiting resolution of this cliff hanger.

It's old news

Only four months ago, on Sept. 1, Scandale ran another huge A-1 package on construction at Ground Zero -- including the memorial -- written by then-Staff Writer Tom Davis, who attended a Port Authority dog-and-pony-and-propaganda show. That story included six photos by Staff Photographer Chris Pedota.

But today, reports on Governor Christie's public relations blunder in going to Disney World during the blizzard, how his 2% tax cap will affect towns in North Jersey and his combativeness are scattered over two sections. There are two stories on A-3 and a third story on the front of L-1 -- state news filing in for local news head Assignment Editor Deirdre Sykes and her minions couldn't produce.

Section ate

Restaurant Reviewer Elisa Ung must have exhausted herself eating and drinking in recent weeks. I couldn't find her usual Sunday column in Better Living, "The Corner Table." 

That gives readers a break from her relentless promotion of restaurants and food professionals in a column that is supposed to the voice of the consumer.

On Page T-3 of Travel, a photo of one Hispanic family (lower right hand corner) breaks the all-white monotony of "The Record on The Road" feature.

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