Thursday, January 6, 2011

A reporter of few words

US Department of Justice Scales Of JusticeImage via Wikipedia

Staff Writer Kibret Markos provides a surprising amount of detail about the rundown interior of the Bergen County Courthouse on Page 1 of  The Record today -- considering how much time he spends outside smoking. Markos is a man of few words who, coincidentally, writes relatively few stories from one of the state's busiest courthouses.

You might see four stories about trials, indictments and other legal matters from him one day, then nothing for a week or more. And Markos, who is himself a lawyer, seems to have a blind spot about legal fees, never discussing them when reporting huge judgments or settlements in civil lawsuits.

Meanwhile, the news copy desk, under the supervision of Production Editor Liz Houlton, continues to run amuck. Today, two of the dullest headlines imaginable appear on front-page stories and a caption contains erroneous information.

School cuts scrutinized

When is Houlton and the copy desk going to be "scrutinized" for turning out such tripe, this on renewed school funding arguments before the state Supreme Court. 

Halls of justice need fixing up

There's no flair in this headline on Markos' story about the proposed renovation of the historic courthouse in Hackensack. Some readers might argue with the phrase "halls of justice," arguing that justice is not always served there.

And the A-1 caption says, "The 100-year-old" building "suffers from many structural problems," but no such problems are discussed in the story. A roof leak or an out-of-control heating system aren't structural problems.

Is it fair to call the courthouse 100 years old in the sub headline and caption, if construction began in 1910?

Markos also reports one of the elevators recently was nicknamed "The Widow-maker," even though no one was killed in its so-called free falls. All of this is just more of the sloppy copy editing the Woodland Park daily has become known for.

Finally, the takeout on the courthouse is an example of what Editor Francis Scandale loves to plaster all over Page 1: Proposals, plans, studies and panel recommendations that may come to fruition in 2012, 2013, 2014 -- or never. What about the here and now, Francis?

Color blind

In a sidebar to the Supreme Court story on A-1, political Columnist Charles Stile continues to ignore the diversity issue at the state Supreme Court or even tell readers John Wallace was the only black associate justice before Governor Christie dumped him last May.

Head Assignment Editor Deirdre Sykes is selling the front of Local to the highest bidder for a second day. 

A six-column automobile dealer's ad appears under the "2011 People to Watch" story, but today, placement of the boxed story at the top of the page puts the ad over a major report on school test scores. On Wednesday, the ad was at the bottom of the page.

Check out the clunky head on the school test results:

New test scores, old gap concerns 

Old gap concerns? The drop head would have made a better main head:

Schools pledge to help those left behind 

On Page L-3, a 39-year-old North Bergen woman has been reported missing, but no similar stories have appeared on the apparent disappearance of Hackensack reporter Monsy Alvarado, Staff Writer Jean Rimbach and other staffers whose bylines haven't been seen for weeks.

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  1. Ivon Garcia was found last night around 10 o'clock, early enough to make later editions -- although I noticed that didn't have it.

    Yes, CLIFFVIEWPILOT.COM did -- less than an hour after a North Bergen deputy police chief spotted her on Bergenline Avenue.

    (P.S. "Halls of justice": I love Kibret, but I used to joke with my reporters about getting a cliche filter for the newspaper. That one would've gotten snagged.)

  2. What lawfirms have Markos worked for?
    How many lawyers write for NJMG and who are they.
    Are there conflicts of interest with the lawyers employed by NJMG and NJ Judges?

  3. I don't know whether Markos worked as a lawyer in this country. I don't know of any other reporters at The Record who have a law background.

    I'm not sure what you mean by the conflicts question.


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