Friday, February 4, 2011

Who screwed this up so badly?

Bergen and Passaic counties, 1872Image via Wikipedia
The Record's big census package today is sloppy, confusing and inaccurate.

The census story that covers half of the front page today is a mess -- from the confusing main headline to the incomplete graphic under it to the inaccurate graphic on  A-6, the continuation page. 

How could so many people at The Record of Woodland Park screw up? Editor Francis Scandale put this flawed effort on Page 1, head Assignment Editor Deirdre Sykes and her minions supplied the information to the graphic artists, and the head of graphics and his arrogant assistant executed the error-filled maps.

This amateur hour leaves readers confused and frustrated.

Let's start with the main head, which is trying to tell readers the population of Bergen and Passaic counties grew in the 2000s, but at a slower pace than other regions of the state. This would have been a good head:

North Jersey
losing ground

Some genius decided the headline needed the word "is," but it didn't fit, so Production Director Liz Houlton and the news copy desk went with a contraction. The only problem is that the contraction also can be read as a possessive:

North Jersey's
losing ground

Does the "losing ground" belong to North Jersey? What does that mean? It gets worse.

Little Falls had the greatest percentage population gain in Passaic County, but it isn't listed under "Gainers" in the A-1 graphic. The towns that gained and lost the most people in Bergen and Passaic counties aren't labeled on the front-page map. There are more problems inside, on A-6:

The color-coding of the map -- labeled "Shift in political power" -- is badly screwed up, and doesn't match the legend. 

Essex and Cape May counties -- which had the biggest percentage losses in population -- are colored wrong. They should be deep blue. Gloucester and Ocean -- which had the greatest percentage gains -- are deep blue, but should be orange-brown.

Sacking Hackensack

Another graphic on A-6 shows that Hackensack remains the most populous community in Bergen County, but doesn't explain why Sykes, her minions and Hackensack reporter Monsy Alvarado treat the city where the paper was founded as if it is a backwater.

A-2 carries an embarrassing correction on Thursday's story about the Passaic Valley Sewerage Commissioners, who continue to smell to high heaven. The continuing shake-up of the agency leads today's paper.

Exploiting misery

The momentous news from Egypt is relegated to a Page 1 brief today. The surprising unrest across the Middle East only points up what a miserable job The Record and other U.S. media have done with their relentless focus on the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.

Scandale promotes world news to the front page -- whether it's disease in Haiti or riots in Cairo -- with the inconsistency of an editor who is desperate to sell papers. He exploits misery with the same passion he devotes to squelching the aspirations of older newsroom workers.

Colliding editors

Non-fatal accident photos are finding their way back into Sykes' Local section (L-1, L-3 and L-6 today). They have been useful to fill space left empty by her minions and the reporters working under their confused direction.

Road Warrior John Cichowski's column today is far removed from his mission of covering commuting problems. 

Chick can't seem to tear himself away from the computer to witness how many drivers are being patient and civil with one another as they try to navigate dangerously narrowed streets, and contend with mounds of snow that block vision at intersections and other hazards left in the wake of the all the storms that have hit since Christmas.

Stephen A. Borg, president of North Jersey Media Group, wore a tie for a change when he appeared at a legislative hearing in Trenton (L-7) to testify against a bill that would allow towns to run their legal ads on their Web sites.

Now, those ads bring newspapers statewide $8 million in revenue, Borg testified, though he didn't say how much of that goes to NJMG's dailies and weeklies.

In Better Living, Restaurant Reviewer Elisa Ung gives Vivi Italian restaurant in Hawthorne the Bahama Breeze treatment, rating it only two stars (Good). 

She didn't like the seafood nor did she appreciate the conflicting information from the staff on whether desserts are homemade. On top of that, they ran out of an eggless tiramisu on both of her visits. What nerve.
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  1. They lost classifieds long ago. The bigger advertisers are going more and more with direct marketing and online.

    I can tell you I, for one, am salivating at the prospect of posting FREE legal notices for any municipality that asks....

    Glad that Corey Feldman wore a tie to what essentially was a wake. As the Pew Center reports: The tipping point has been reached -- more than 50% of respondents say they get their news online. Advertisers can read, and they see the drift.

    So, apart from Macy's, legal notices are really the only golden egg left. Lost that and it's bye, bye, Borgie.

    I can hear Harry Chapin now: "Dance band on the Titanic, singin' 'Nearer my God to thee!' "

  2. just read the version of the legal notice's bill's progress:

    in "plain english," corey: goodnight, irene.... and don't think the lawmakers don't privately enjoy this, would-be boy genius. you ride people, you launch crusades, witch hunts, "investigating" people, as if it's in the name of taxpayers, when all you want to do is sell newspapers.

    yet those very same people are the municipal officials and freeholders who end up going to trenton -- and the readers you're losing are their family, friends, associates.

    what you reap, my friends....

    which reminds me: can i now use the "friend of..." slogan, for CLIFFVIEW PILOT truly am....? they can still change theirs to what bautista once suggested: "you just wasted 50 cents."

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  4. My lawyer was surprised to see Stephen Borg show up at one of our depositions on Garret Mountain in a wrinkled dress short, no tie or jacket.

    Borg looked as if he had slept in the shirt.

  5. That should be "dress shirt," not short.

  6. and no socks, i'll bet.

    who cares? he thinks eccentricity equals intelligence.

    guy's dumb as a bag o' hammers.


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