Sunday, February 13, 2011

Greedy bank, greedy publisher

The former Tenafly Railroad Station, currently...Image via Wikipedia
Publisher Stephen A. Borg lived in a $2 million home in Tenafly, above, but bought a bigger one.

Ads on Page 1 and section fronts are common in The Record of Woodland Park and many other newspapers as readership falls. In January, a luxury car dealer's ad appeared day after day on the front of The Record's Local section -- above the fold -- as part of the month-long 2011 People to Watch series.

That precedent was followed today by an unprecedented sellout, one which shatters the traditional balance between news and advertising-- a four-page ad wrapped completely around the front page and the entire A-section. How much did Wells Fargo Bank pay for it -- $100,000, $150,000?

How long will that delay the inevitable? It's a few drops in the bucket compared to the $3.65 million Publisher Stephen A. Borg sucked out of North Jersey Media Group in the form of a company mortgage to buy a McMansion in Tenafly. He should change his middle name to avaricious.

Robbing readers

I was initially confused by the Herald News bag that held my newspaper today. Unfolding the main sections, I saw The Record masthead with lots of blank space under it.  Then I caught sight of the word "Wachovia" in an odd type face, with an odd, reddish color to boot.

At least, the advertising department made no effort to disguise the bank's feel-good message as news or make it look like Page 1 with tightly arranged headlines, stories and photos. And, truth is, today's front page is nothing to crow about.

Most of A-1 today is wasted on Bergen County's Equestrian Center and dysfunctional Improvement Authority, a story that belongs in the Local section.

Women play second fiddle

An important cancer-treatment story for women is shoved down to the bottom of the page, and Editor Francis Scandale squandered an opportunity to package it with an A-3 story on two female legislators who want to repeal antiquated laws that affect women.

Head Assignment Editor Deirdre Sykes' Local section continues to puzzle readers with much ado about nothing. 

More Jewish news

If Orthodox Jewish children observe the Sabbath, they can't compete in sports on that day. Why were two reporters and a photographer assigned to explore that so-called issue? 

One of the staffers, Giovanna Fabiano, hasn't had any municipal news from her Englewood beat since Jan. 22. Maybe she and Sykes believe covering Orthodox Jews is covering the city.

Road Warrior John Cichowski devotes an entire column to the death of one man at an intersection in Franklin Lakes, but doesn't ask why the car he was driving didn't have safety features that could have saved him. That car brand is an advertiser, of course.

The Business section today reads like advertisement -- a lead story on iPhone toy apps, a column on Fresh Direct grocery delivery and another on Tofutti Brands. Those reporters really know how to sell a story.

Here's real agita

If you want to experience heartburn, turn to Restaurant Reviewer Elisa Ung's "The Corner Table" column, which is about chefs again (F-6) -- a subject she explores almost as much as restaurant owners and her obsession with dessert. She shafts only consumers.

Does Ung ever wonder why her Sunday columns usually are buried in Better Living?

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1 comment:

  1. When I saw that Wells Fargo ad I really knew the publication had hit rock bottom. Hey, at least it wasn't Chase bank right? Elisa Ung might not go overboard in informing readers about the restaurants she reviews but she makes up for it by going overboard on the fattening desserts.


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