Tuesday, February 15, 2011

How does a paper get so boring?

Roosevelt Signs The Social Security Act: Presi...Image via Wikipedia
President Franklin D. Roosevelt signing the Social Security Act in August 1935.

You have to give the page designer an A for effort, but if you actually try to read the front page of The Record today, it will put you to sleep.

The main element is the debate over the federal budget -- a "battle," in newspaper parlance -- and the Woodland Park daily's package of headlines, text and photos is certainly attractive, but it all boils down to the Democrats say this and the Republicans say that.

If you think the Associated Press is a weak wire service, check out the story at the bottom of Page 1 from McClatchy Newspapers, quoting "disappointed budget experts."  

This slanted piece of trash actually tries to make a case for cutting three of the greatest government programs in existence: Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

Editor Francis Scandale will do anything to create conflict, and make readers feel anxious.

There's even more about the federal budget on the continuation page (A-6): pie charts, graphs, more photos, more text. Are you still awake?

The headline on the lead A-1 story today sounds like it's about the bloated Passaic Valley Sewerage Commissioners, the constipated officials who were on the front page several times recently as Governor Christie gave them an enema:

in perks

But this story is about another agency, the Passaic Valley Water Commission, which also pays  bloated salaries and overtime. My eyes are getting heavy. Given all the exposure of the sewerage agency, a better headline would have been, "Another agency awash in perks."

The third main story on the front page tries to sum up seven hours of testimony before a Superior Court judge on state education funding, an issue that is before the Supreme Court again. Less than riveting.

About the only interesting thing on the Editorial Page is Margulies' cartoon of Christie: "My Way or The Highway," riffing on the battle over highway toll revenue.

Sleepy Hollow

On the front of head Assignment Editor Deirdre Sykes' Local section, Columnist Charles Stile rehashes how Christie has taken on the state Supreme Court. At least in this column, Stile identifies former Associate Justice John Wallace as the court's only African-American member.

Under Sykes, how well residents are informed about events in their towns is in direct proportion to the enterprise of the assignment editors and the legwork of the reporters who cover those towns.

So you have a dynamo like Staff Writer Denisa R. Superville, who has three stories in the section today -- two of them on the front -- and then you have slugs like Hackensack reporter Monsy Alvarado and Englewood reporter Giovanna Fabiano, who seems to be writing about everything but the city she is supposed to cover.

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