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|Say the magic words "car pool" anytime and pay only $2 to cross the George Washington Bridge.|
Friday, March 4, 2011
Christie coverage lacks objectivity
Editor Francis Scandale worked with two reporters to give Governor Christie the upper hand on the front page of The Record of Woodland Park today.
Instead of leading the major element on Page 1 with the claims of police and firefighters at a protest in front of the State House on Thursday, Staff Writers John Reitmeyer and John P. McAlipin use the first five paragraphs to lay out Christie's up-yours, in-your-face response.
"They're choosing their own greed over the betterment of the public," the Republican bully said of public-safety workers.
It's only when you get to the continuation page -- if you even read that far -- that you find the unions' claim that layoffs of police officers in Paterson and other communities have led to more crime.
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Copy editors don't help
The news copy desk's confused handling of headlines and captions doesn't help.
The main head is a nice play on cops' and first responders' uniforms, "Uniform anger," but the over line is a room-clearer:
DUELING ATTACKS IN CHRISTIE'S FIGHT WITH PUBLIC UNIONS
"Dueling attacks"? How clunky can you get? Shouldn't it be "dueling claims"? The copy editors are supposed to be word people, not "turd" people.
And the caption under the main A-1 photo says the protest is over "cuts they say will hurt public safety [my italics]," when cops were laid off in Camden, Newark and Paterson weeks or months ago.
Doing P.R. for Christie
Christie has tried hard to convince the public only deep cuts in public-employee benefits will allow him to balance the budget, and he's offered property tax rebates, a modest restoration of the education aid he slashed and other sweeteners to everyone else -- thus pitting resident against resident.
The Record has been complicit in this effort, with editors, columnists and editorial writers praising the governor's style, even as they occasionally take exception to his budget cuts affecting middle- and working-class New Jerseyans.
And they allow Christie to define news coverage, as they do today, and keep the focus off his poor financial record:
Refusing to tax millionaires or raise the low gasoline tax; blowing $400 million in federal education aid; and pulling the plug on the Hudson River rail tunnels after the state had already spent hundreds of millions of dollars on a sorely needed mass-transit project.
Editors and reporters have never asked Christie at meetings with the paper's Editorial Board why he hasn't capped the salaries of police chiefs, or why he collects his full $175,000, instead of the $1 a year Jon Corzine took home to Hoboken. So who is greedy?
Road Warrior Columnist John Cichowski writes today about the addition of more E-ZPass lanes on the turnpike (L-1), but I haven't seen a word from him on the new buses that are being phased in to replace some of the white elephants on NJ Transit's local routes.
If he wants to write exclusively about issues affecting drivers, he should at least tell readers they are entitled to an unpublicized $2 "car-pool" toll at the George Washington Bridge and other Hudson River crossings at any time of the day, if they have three people in their car, and urge them to call their E-Z Pass provider and register for the discount.
The normal Port Authority tolls are $8, $6 off-peak and $4 for hybrid cars.
Elsewhere in head Assignment Editor Deirdre Sykes' Local section, Hackensack reporter Monsy Alvarado covers a Board of Education meeting for the first time in many months and produces two stories -- one on school cuts (L-3), the other on the superintendent's early retirement (L-7).
I understand that after all that unusual effort, Alvarado received oxygen therapy at Hackensack University Medical Center. Two stories in one day? The poor woman.