Monday, February 28, 2011

The elephant in the newsroom

White House Kitchen Garden 2Image by afagen via Flickr
The White House vegetable garden.

Editors of The Record probably will tell you they strive to remain objective, but readers aren't the fools the paper thinks they are. 

The editors can't hide how much they like Governor Christie and his divisive budget and tax policies. And they can't hide how much they go out of their way to avoid tackling the obesity epidemic or discussing the governor's weight problem.

But now, more than a year after he took office, Christie himself is talking about his size, first in a Star-Ledger story that appeared in The Record on Feb. 20, reporting the governor is trying to lose weight, and again today in a report on his appearance on CBS' "Face the Nation" (A-2).

On the Sunday TV broadcast, Christie defended first lady Michelle Obama's efforts to encourage children to be more active and eat healthy food, an initiative some other conservatives have criticized. He said:

"I think it's a really good goal to encourage kids to eat better. I've struggled with my weight for 30 years. And it's a struggle."

Only half the story

Of course, I didn't see any mention in the story by Washington Correspondent Herb Jackson that Christie cut school breakfast programs for low-income children or that his wife, Mary Pat, is working with food pantries, not addressing the childhood obesity problem.

Some Record editors also have struggled with their weight for years or decades, but they are not about to acknowledge it or launch a project on the obesity epidemic -- the elephant in the Woodland Park newsroom, as it was for many years in the abandoned Hackensack newsroom.

At one time, three editors were obese or verging on obese -- head Assignment Editor Deirdre Sykes, Project Editor Tim Nostrand and Food Editor Bill Pitcher -- but the paper kept on printing stories or restaurant reviews promoting desserts, chocolate and other sweets.

Pitcher began free lancing for the Food section when he was a layout editor on the news desk, then left the paper for a year or so before returning as food editor in mid-2006. 

His daughter was a 2-year-old of normal weight when I met her, but a few years later, in 2006 or 2007, she appeared in the newsroom as a grossly overweight little girl.

Pitcher has left the paper, but the restaurant reviewer he hired in 2007, Elisa Ung, continues to indulge her mindless obsession with dessert in her weekly columns.

Well-reported burg

Sykes' Local section doesn't have any Hackensack, Teaneck or Englewood news today, but don't miss the story on the ambulance corps in Harrington Park, the editor's hometown (L-2).

Unscripted, unhinged

In Better Living, the Associated Press coverage of the Academy Awards broadcast mentions Best Supporting Actress Melissa Leo's use of the F-word, but not what a blithering idiot she was during her acceptance speech -- one in a long lime of such speeches from actors who seem to fall apart when they don't have a script to work from.

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