Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Newspaper becomes P.R. machine

I love PR (public relations)Image by DoktorSpinn via Flickr
The Record often crosses the line between news and public relations.

Editor Francis Scandale and Staff Writers John Reitmeyer and Charles Stile crank up their public relations machine for Governor Christie's antiabortion beliefs today with a splashy, Page 1 story and an L-1 column in The Record of Woodland Park.

This is essentially a photo-op. Christie isn't pledging to change laws that now give women the right to an abortion, so I guess the message to readers is the Republican governor has more regard for fetuses than for the middle- and working-class schoolchildren, adults, and seniors he has targeted with his drastic budget cuts.

At least Reitmeyer's story noted Christie's $7.5 million cut in women's health programs.

The two other stories on A-1 today are signs of the editors' desperation and the shallowness of news coverage at the former Hackensack daily.

Ford Motor Company of ArgentinaImage via Wikipedia

The lead is another in the seemingly endless stream of stories on the prospects of cleaning up four-decades-old Ford Motor Co. pollution in North Jersey. Of course, the untold story here is the weakness of environmental laws, the courts and the media to move this industrial giant.

And, at the bottom of the page, readers find yet another story about the long and winding road to education reform and teacher "accountability," a word Scandale and head Assignment Editor Deirdre Sykes apply to everyone outside the paper, but not to themselves or their staff.

At least, we can be thankful we don't have to read another A-1 story by clueless Staff Writer John Brennan on the Jets cleaning out their lockers, plus a detailed discussion of their bowel movements in the wake of their loss to the Steelers.

Two embarrassing corrections appear on A-2 today, including the listing of a closed restaurant as one of the places to watch Sunday's football game.

Local yokels

Instead of a Bogota resident as one of the 2011 PEOPLE TO WATCH, readers are introduced to an "entrepreneur" who was born and raised there. He owns a restaurant, nightclub and lounge in Manhattan I have never heard of. His story is "brought to you by" a luxury car dealer's ad above the fold on L-1 today.

The 2010 blizzard hit about a month ago and we've had four more snowstorms since then, but Sykes' staff is just noticing how many homeless people are exposed to the cold, and, apparently, that's because a homeless advocate and police are patrolling the streets in search of them (L-1).

The homeless story runs with a mind-numbing graphic -- containing weather data going back to the 1930s -- that tells readers this winter isn't as cold as they think it is. Isn't that sort of insensitive to the homeless, many of whom live outdoors?

There's no Hackensack news, nor stories from Englewood or Teaneck, but you'll find coverage of tiny Northvale and of North Haledon.

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