Thursday, March 17, 2011

Editor has head up his you-know-what

We are okayImage by timtak via Flickr
The Record made sure to emphasize today that some Japanese aren't fluent in English.

Nearly a week after the devastating earthquake and tsunami, Editor Frank Scandale has discovered the town he's called home for more than a decade has a sister city "just 22 miles southwest" of the stricken nuclear plant, as readers learn today on the front page of The Record.

On an international story as big as the Japanese disasters, it's the job of every newspaper to localize the news. Besides a few interviews with Japanese residents of North Jersey and a story on a fund-raising bake sale in Tenafly, there has been woefully little of that in the Woodland Park daily in the past six days.

Reporters apparently can't find a map to Newark airport, so they haven't interviewed any Japanese residents flying home to locate missing loved ones, or they've been told by head Assignment Editor Deirdre Sykes they won't be reimbursed for the trip to the big Japanese supermarket in Edgewater.

Confusing the reader

Today's Page 1 layout was so confusing, I found myself turning to A-12, the continuation page, only to find the story about Glen Rock and Onomachi began on A-1, below the fold and nearly six inches under a photo, caption and refer. 

And was it really necessary to reprint e-mails from Japan, complete with broken English? The reporter, Staff Writer Evonne Coutros, looks down her nose at the Japanese victims: "Fears and pleas for help pour from the messages, written in spotty English [my italics]." 

I mean, "fears"? Shouldn't that be "Fear and pleas for help..."? And I believe this error, this "spotty English," was made by a journalist who should know better.

Her clueless assignment editor probably instructed her to stress the errors in the e-mails from Japan so readers won't confuse them with all the mistakes, dropped words, bad grammar, poor writing and clunky headlines and captions that appear in the paper every day.

Two embarrassing corrections on A-2 today follow two even longer corrections on A-2 in Wednesday's paper. Today, the paper notes a story misidentified the mayor of tiny Northvale.

Coming out of a hole

An editorial on A-22 today calls for more shared services and declares the home-rule system of government is too expensive to maintain -- decades after every North Jersey homeowner realized the very same thing.

Eleven days after her last story about Englewood, Staff Writer Giovanna Fabiano reports on L-3 today the city budget contains no tax hike.

Hackensack readers are still waiting for a story about their city budget and tax rate. Would someone please check the emergency rooms for Staff Writer Monsy Alvarado.

Scooped by a weekly

Alvarado got beaten again today by the weekly Hackensack Chronicle, which reported on that more police officers have filed lawsuits against higher-ups -- the 12th such suit since June 2009.

Readers of the Web site could have done without the juvenile and flawed comparison of the turmoil in Hackensack with the stabbing of Julius Caesar on the ides of March in 44 B.C.

Free advertising

Starters, described as "a first look at recently opened restaurants," really lays it on thick on the front of Better Living today, where a photo shows a lamb shank, presumably filled with harmful antibiotics and growth hormones (F-1).

Instead of being asked to discuss the quality of the meat she serves,  the owner of a Westwood restaurant is quoted as saying her hummus is "outrageous" -- a preposterous claim given all the great chickpea dip available in North Jersey.

Wednesday's edition

I was incredulous to read a Page 1 interview with the new chairman of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey all the way to the end and not find a single mention of mass transit. 

That morning, a 20-mile trip by car during the rush hour took nearly an hour.

Staff Writer Shawn Boburg apparently has taken over the Port Authority beat from Tom Davis, who left the paper months ago. Boburg's career was sidetracked for nearly three years when he was assigned to the disastrous investigation of lawman Michael Mordaga.

Still, is this the kind of reporter who should be covering a transportation agency in a region choked by traffic congestion and where officials have never expressed any real commitment to mass transit?

Even the headline on the interview with Port Authority Chairman David Samson appears to be in error. If he is the "chief" of the agency, as the headline says, what is the executive director?

Life imitates blog

After satirizing the plight of a layout editor grateful that he was given a Charles Stile column for the front of Local on Tuesday -- instead of the Road Warrior's "15th column" on roof snow -- the very next day, John Cichowski published his umpteenth column on the law requiring the clearing of snow off vehicle roofs.

Hey, John. Get out of the office. It's almost spring.

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  1. " ... the juvenile and flawed comparison of the turmoil in Hackensack with the stabbing of Julius Caesar on the ides of March in 44 B.C."
    Come now, Victor, aren't you going a little overboard here (blogger overboard!!!). After all, a newspaper wouldn't be worth the buck or so you toss into the honor box if it didn't have at least one Ides of March comparison on March 15. Now, if the Record had blamed the Japanese Tsunami on the Tides of March, that might have been a bit of a stretch. But Jackie Z and Julius C, they were probably separated at birth. Way to go, Deirdre.

  2. Are you saying Deirdre also supervises Mark J. Bonamo, the reporter who wrote the story for the Hackensack Chronicle, another NJMG paper?

    You could have something there. Last June, Bonamo was identified as a staff writer in The Record's Local section on a story about kids in Harrington Park. That burg is Deirdre Sykes' hometown and that section is her pride and joy.

    So maybe Deirdre Sykes O'Neil and Mark J. Bonamo were separated at birth.

    The Hackensack police lawsuits story came in late for the Chronicle, too, not even making today's weekly edition, which is delivered with The Record.

    To keep circulation figures high, a second copy of the Chronicle will hit my driveway today.


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