Friday, February 18, 2011

Christie aide scolds second-graders

The Tonnelle Ave station of the Hudson-Bergen ...Image via Wikipedia
The Record is helping Tenafly officials portray light-rail service as negatively as possible.

The lead Page 1 story today reports how Governor Christie's acting education czar "warned" minority second-graders at a "troubled" school in Trenton: "When I come back, I want everyone to be able to spell 'amphibian,' tell me what it means and think of an example other than a frog."

Staff Writer Leslie Brody commands the front page for the second day in a row to tell readers how acting Education Commissioner Christopher Cerf plans to bridge the learning gap. 

The generally upbeat article notes students at the school he visited Thursday are mostly poor black and Hispanic children, "who can't read or do math on grade level."

Read this to the end, as I did, and you'll find no mention by Cerf or this education reporter of whether minority students do far better in an integrated setting, as numerous studies have shown.

That's no surprise, because The Record of Woodland Park has never examined the impact of segregated classrooms -- such as those in Englewood elementary and middle schools -- on learning.

"Cerf calls the achievement gap 'morally reprehensible' and says his proposals will help close it," the reporter notes on A-10, then goes on to say the education czar believes teachers are "the single most important influence on student success."

Reporter as mouthpiece

Where is it written that reporters must quote anything an officials says, even if it contradicts reality? Where is it written that reporters should avoid challenging a news source at all costs? Where is it written that reporters must endeavor to push readers' buttons?

If you work for Editor Francis Scandale, head Assignment Editor Deirdre Sykes and their minions, that seems to be your mission. 

Take Staff Writer Karen Sudol, who has done a number of stories on opposition to the extension of light-rail service to Tenafly -- a proposal that is the fruit of decades of effort to improve mass transit and ease traffic congestion in densely populated North Jersey.

Sudol has merely parroted statements from Tenafly Councilman Barry Honig and others, apparently wealthy people who are defending their right to drive into Manhattan, adding to already unbearable pollution. 

Today, she quotes Honig as saying light-rail service would "serve practically no one in our town," even though she reports three paragraphs earlier that 1,183 people supported the proposal in a November referendum (L-2).

She quotes Honig as saying light rail "will significantly harm the quality of life in our community," even though light-rail cars are propelled by electric motors that don't pollute and are far quieter than diesel locomotives that were proposed initially.

Maybe Honig and others in Tenafly were influenced by two long, slanted, anti-light rail stories reported and written by Tom Davis, a so-called transportation reporter who thankfully has left the paper.

Bahama BreezeImage via Wikipedia

Queasy stomachs

I've been driving past The Green Olive in a drab strip mall on Passaic Street in Hackensack for more than three years and have never had the least bit of interest in eating there, so you can imagine my surprise when I saw its "local neighborhood cooking" reviewed in Better Living today. 

The place looks like a tavern that serves food, and I don't want to try one of its mystery meat hamburgers or its pizzas. Even the usually deceptive food photos with the review can't hide the mediocrity of this pizza crust.

Restaurant Revewer Elisa Ung begins this review as she does all others, telling "The Story" of how it got started. Today, she devotes five long paragraphs to this introduction. Who cares? 

Tell me about the origin of the food, how the meat in the burger was raised, the service -- anything but the chef's work history, words of praise from his stepson and all the other rigmarole.

I know times are tight at the paper, but why does Ung have to review every restaurant she eats in? Last week, she reviewed Rumba Cubana in North Bergen, where she found "two pieces of gristle in the complimentary dip and a hair in two different dishes, both on the same weeknight visit."

Just the thought of finding that in my food makes me queasy, and I would never visit that place.

She gives two stars to The Green Olive (Good), as she did to Rumba Cubana, but that's the same rating she gave to a faux-Caribbean chain restaurant, Bahama Breeze in Wayne, where she was served raw or undercooked scallops three times.

Ung also seems to be straying from reviewing more expensive, fine-dining restaurants. The motive must be to save the troubled newspaper money, but it's a disservice to readers.

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  1. will you quit bashing Elisa Ung over the raw or undercooked scallops she got served at Bahama Breeze. Heck, they coulda squirted some wasabi on it, put a slice of ginger on the side, called it sashimi and charged her triple.

  2. It's that, after all that dreadful treatment, she still gave it two stars (Good). A chain restaurant on the highway, serving crappy West Indian food?

    She has forever cheapened her star ratings.


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