Saturday, April 30, 2011

Christie picks a fight, commuters get the shaft

Carl Lewis at the "green carpet" for...Image via Wikipedia
Governor Christie removed a black man from the state Supreme Court and his lieutenant governor has removed Carl Lewis, above, from the ballot.

The bill collectors won't go away (A-1).

The only winner in this titanic struggle between Governor Christie and the Feds over $271 million in rail-tunnel money is the hand-picked Washington, D.C., law firm that has mishandled the job despite billing more than $800,000 in fees.

So, it looks like rail commuters will be standing in the aisles until a new tunnel is built, and that might take years.

Sour notes

Look at that bratty 3-year-old bridesmaid spoiling the photo of the royal couple on Page 1 of The Record today.

A far better choice would have been a little girl who lives in Hackensack and has listened to the noise of "planes overhead" since she was born -- an issue the paper's jet-setting owners do their best to ignore.

The deal between the Turnpike Authority and the toll collectors union "will save about $35 million," so Staff Writer Karen Rouse should get off her tush and explain why tolls won't be cut as a result (A-3). 

Minority views

A letter to the editor suggests the removal of Carl Lewis from the ballot is part of a pattern to limit " minority voter representation" in New Jersey (A-11). 

Maybe Governor Christie is just taking a page from the playbook of Editor Francis Scandale, who has successfully limited minority representation in the newsroom.

Horses' asses

The lead story on the Local front -- a section put together by head Assignment Editor Deirdre Sykes -- is about horse racing.

Sykes seems to have returned to using big photos of non-fatal accidents to fill space (L-1), but why is the caption blaming a minivan driver for a collision with a landscaping truck that crossed double-yellow lines?

Calling all peepers

The Quotes of the Week at the top of L-1 today include a Wood-Ridge woman named Pat, who says a new rail station would force her "to live with my blinds closed."

But Wednesday's story also reported a 20-foot wall would "block commuters' views" of the neighborhood.

Let's hope Peeping Toms haven't been rushing over to her house since her name appeared in the paper.

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Friday, April 29, 2011

Praise the Lord for police shootings

Great Falls in Paterson NJImage by Tony the Misfit via Flickr
The Editorial Page editor wants to consolidate Wayne and Paterson schools. For his next act, Alfred P. Doblin will try to go over the Great Falls in a barrel.

Editors Francis Scandale and Deirdre Sykes are desperately praying for another police shooting to fill news columns -- just as an incident did on the front page today and on the Local front Thursday. 

So, why did the fatal shooting of a suspect end up on Local, while the wounding of another is all over Page 1 today in The Record of Woodland Park?

Three photos on A-1 and A-10 show nothing more than police officers walking or standing around and "beginning to investigate," according to the wildly optimistic caption. 

Screw the union

The turnpike's unionized toll collectors will be allowed to keep their jobs, but their average $65,000 salaries will be cut more than $15,000 by July 2012 (A-1).

Compare that to the immediate $10,000 cut in the salary of reporter Elaine D'Aurizio, who has since retired, and other staffers engineered by Publisher Stephen A. Borg, with the advice and consent of Scandale and other editors.

A graphic on A-1 Wednesday was so cockeyed it required a long correction today on A-2, along with five corrections from Thursday's school board election results.

Come back later

You won't find the suspect's name in the Page 1 shooting story or even a description, nor is the officer or officers who shot him identified. In the fatal shooting story on L-1 Thursday, the officer's identity also was withheld.

Governor Christie's spokesman had noting to say about a new name for Xanadu -- American Dream Meadowlands -- or a fall 2013 opening date (A-1).

Many reporters for The Record appear to stand there with their hands out for information, and don't argue when told to come back later or call me tomorrow.

LOL at Doblin

What a hoot. Editorial Page Editor Alfred P. Doblin knows there's absolutely zero chance of success for his school-district consolidation plan -- combining Paterson and Wayne, Newark and Milburn, and others across the state (A-21).

But he doesn't tell readers why: Most white suburbanites will fight to the death for their "neighborhood schools" to avoid having their kids rub shoulders with blacks and Hispanics in neighboring towns.

After all, didn't Malcolm A. "Mac" Borg send young Stephen to a private high school in Englewood for just that reason?

Dumb and dumber

Today's Road Warrior column on L-1 is a case of dumb readers' questions and dumber answers.

Where is the Teaneck reporter? An item on L-5 carries the Hackensack reporter's tag line.

Fat of the land

Did Grissini in Englewood Cliffs bribe Restaurant Reviewer Elisa Ung for her "Good to Excellent" rating in Better Living today?

Ung says she was served "gummy" cake for $12, "dry" veal for $38, "overcooked and dry" salmon fillet for $29 and shrimp with disgusting, dangling "dark veins" for $28 -- yet she bestows two and a half stars on the so-called fine-dining restaurant.

She also must have been groggy from overindulging when she wrote that the chef "marvels at his freedom to purchase high-quality ingredients." 

But then she fails to tell readers if the overpriced salmon was wild or the filet mignon and veal were raised without antibiotics and growth hormones.

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Thursday, April 28, 2011

More lessons in bad journalism

Costello1Image via Wikipedia
Readers who once laughed at Lou Costello now are laughing at The Record.

How could The Record's front page promise "full coverage of school board elections" today when it never published the candidates' positions on issues facing districts?

Head Assignment Editor Deirdre Sykes couldn't muster the energy or staff to brief readers before Tuesday's election -- something the paper had been doing for decades -- so they were forced to rely on campaign literature. 

Basically, she told them to vote blind.

How about the three standard photos of voters and a kid at the polls (A-1 and A-8). They are as exciting as watching paint dry.

Language barrier

Another A-1 story in the Woodland Park daily reports a group of students from the Dominican Republic got a democracy lesson in Passaic County. 

If readers managed to get through the story, they realize the reporter also needs a lesson -- in the English language.

Staff Writer Richard Cowen, who is no novice, reports the students showed up at a freeholders meeting "dressed in formal attire" (A-5). Does he mean tuxedos and gowns or just suits and dresses? 

Errors 'R' Us

On Wednesday, a Page 1 story by Staff Writer John Gavin peddled the preposterous notion that a train station would be an invasion of nearby residents' privacy. 

The reporter said one man lived a "few feet" from the proposed station in Wood-Ridge. Is that even possible? Three feet from the proposed stop?  He must be homeless.

On A-2 today, an embarrassing correction notes Wednesday's lead story made two serious errors.

Snow job

Former Gov. Jim McGreevey and folk-jazz singer Phoebe Snow couldn't be more different, so how could Mike Kelly lump them in the same L-1 column today?

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Road Warrior puts driving foot in mouth

Chevy VoltImage by cseeman via Flickr
The Chevy Volt. Errors by Road Warrior John Cichowski continue to mount.

A reader of points out errors in John Cichowski's recent column for The Record on the Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid, which the reporter insists on incorrectly calling an "electric" car:
"The Road Clown rides again for a good laugh. Check out link below for a FIOS1 follow-up video interview with John based on his 4/24 online article on the Chevy Volt.  In speaking about students not using NJ-mandated seat belts in school buses [start at 3-minute point of the video], John mistakenly indicates that “it took years for the NJ legislature to BAN [instead of correctly stating something like “require” or ”mandate”] belts on school buses…… [Hee! Hee!]  As I was laughing about how John not only confuses his readers, but he now also confuses himself, the FIOS interviewer never corrected hm.

"John also apparently likes to double-down on his mistakes. In his 4/24 article, he thoughtlessly repeated over and over the Volt did not qualify for NY’s Clean Pass [toll discount] due to relatively lower fuel efficiency in gas mode. He then repeated this same nonsense on the FIOS1 interview.

"Based on past experience, John thinks that repeating something over and over makes everything he states correct.  However, John was badly mistaken based on the facts, which I guess he did not bother to properly verify, for EPA’s combined fuel efficiency ratings for the electric and gas modes of the Volt are within NY Clean Pass requirements. And the NY Clean Pass Web page clearly states the Volt is not approved solely because it does not meet the more stringent, California-based emissions limits -- a second requirement for being approved for NY Clean Pass."
Eye on The Record notes Cichowski omitted saying the toll discounts denied the Volt driver from Teaneck are part of the Port Authority's Green Pass program.

The day after the column appeared, an A-2 correction noted Cichowski had erred on the Volt's gasoline mileage.

Not on my front page

What's this nonsense on Page 1 of the Woodland Park daily today? 

Do people who bought homes "less than 30 feet" from railroad tracks have any right to complain about a plan to build a station near them?

You'd think they would be thanking NJ Transit for 1) increasing the value of their homes by making mass transit available to residents, and 2) reducing noise by stopping the 30 trains that roar by every day.

But Editor Francis Scandale is so desperate for copy, he allows the reporter to disguise a not-in-my-backyard issue as one of "privacy." How ridiculous. 

The reporter even has the nerve to call the neighborhood "secluded." 

The front-page photo shows a man on his deck as a commuter train passes. His shit-eating grin tells you he is relishing the tens of thousands of dollars he saved by buying a house next to the tracks. 

Also on A-1 today is a rare obituary -- an intimate portrait of folk-jazz singer Phoebe Snow and her ties to Teaneck. 

Two embarrassing corrections on A-2 involve names that were screwed up. Getting names right is a cardinal rule of journalism, but not at The Record.

Another bad head

Who wrote the misleading headline on former Editor James Ahearn's OpEd column today (A-11)?

Ahearn doesn't link a favorable Supreme Court ruling on educational funding in the Corzine administration and Governor Christie's threat to defy the court now.

Much of the Local section is devoted to Law & Order news, with hardly a municipal story in sight. Another good job by head Assignment Editor Deirdre Sykes and her minions.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

An unusual black-news edition

African American HistoryImage via Wikipedia
Why isn't black accomplishment front page news in The Record?

The front page of The Record hasn't carried this much news about African-Americans since Black History Month.

Are the two stories and a huge photograph in the Woodland Park daily today about black accomplishment? Not in a newsroom run by Editor Francis Scandale, who short-circuits the careers of minorities.

Blacks and horses

All three people have, in a sense, gone wrong: A Jamaican-American man is released from the hospital and disappears. An athlete struggles back from paralysis. The head of the Bergen County NAACP is accused of wrongdoing.

Scandale thinks so much of these people that the fourth major story on A-1 is about animals by that horse's ass, Staff Writer John Brennan, a befuddled reporter whose prose belongs on a back page, not a black page. 

Size matters

There is one good thing to report: Recent tweets by Food Editor Susan Leigh Sherrill and Restaurant Reviewer Elisa Ung about a "chocolate salami" aren't veiled references to black men's sexual endowment.

Susan Sherrill
Chocolate salami: sounds gross; tastes delicious. Made it this weekend with candied ginger + almonds added. Here's how:
Elisa Ung
by susanlsherrill
Chocolate salami. Fascinating.
Page A-2 carries an embarrassing correction from Road Warrior Columnist John Cichowski, whose many errors would fill a page, and a second correction on a Page 1 story April 17.

Chasing her tail

The big news rustled up by head Assignment Editor Deirdre Sykes for the front of her Local section includes a car chase. Wowee. 

Another story about historical sites dominates L-1 today. When is Sykes going to be history?

Unkindest cut

In Better Living, Jersey Scene Columnist Bill Ervolino's punch line was inadvertently cut from the end of his story (F-3) -- in another example of the careful production work by Barbara Jaeger's features department.

The prudish, not-so-funny man insisted on keeping his pants on when he was photographed in a kilt.

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Monday, April 25, 2011

Food editor cooks up a good one

A New Jersey Turnpike Toll Gate for Exit 8A in...Image via Wikipedia
Cartoonist Jimmy Margulies lampoons the attempt to kill the toll collectors union.

Susan Leigh Sherrill, The Record's food editor, is referring to me as "a disgruntled reader" -- pretty mild when you consider all the names I've been called since I started Eye on The Record.

And all the vicious names I've hurled at the Borgs, the editors and incompetent staffers, including Bill Ervolino, Mike Kelly and John Cichowski.

Sherrill apparently was upset by my reference to her light workload in my April 20 post:
"Life is easy for Food Editor Susan Leigh Sherrill, whose entire job seems to be publishing a single recipe on Wednesdays (F-1), plus writing a few items for the Second Helpings blog and tweeting her brains out."

On April 22, she tweeted this to her 115 followers:

Susan Sherrill
I ask you, is 4-6, maybe a coupla more, tweets a day "tweeting my brains out?" A disgruntled reader seems to think so ...

Today's paper

Head Assignment Editor Deirdre Sykes' local news staff must have great depth for her to allow Staff Writer Shawn Boburg to do today's Page 1 takeout on Ground Zero reconstruction, the second in five days.

Today's piece on the soaring, inspirational transit hub is a milestone at the Woodland Park daily, marking the the most extensive discussion of mass transit in years. Are cost overruns in a federally funded project really Page 1 news?

And its construction is a milestone at the Port Authority, reversing the agency's historically poor treatment of PATH commuters.

Coddling reporters

In fact, Sykes' local news staff really must be loafing, if the number of bylines in her A- and L-sections are any indication.

On Sunday, there were only eight Record staff bylines in 22 pages; today, there are fewer than that in the A- and L-sections. I would guess the size of the local reporting staff is at least 50. 

What, exactly, are they doing? I guess they don't find Sykes and her assignment minions very inspirational.

One thing they're not doing are the traditional school election boxes, which briefed readers on school board candidates' positions and school budgets. Today, only a listing of budget amounts and candidates' names appear (L-6).

Lying to readers

This is what Publisher Stephen A. Borg must have meant when he promised readers education news "every day."

But what readers have learned is how little Borg, Sykes and Editor Francis Scandale really care about keeping readers informed. And how the staff includes highly productive members and others who can write as much or as little as they want, without consequences.

The Borgs are beefing up security at their homes now that the so-called James Bond burglars have reappeared in North Jersey's wealthiest neighborhoods (A-1).

Didn't Malcolm A. "Mac" Borg and his wife lose hundreds of thousands of dollars in antique jewelry in one of those smash-and-grab jobs years ago?

Today's Margulies' cartoon (A-11) is in poor taste, given the New Jersey Turnpike Authority's drive to destroy the toll collectors union, with no plans to pass on the savings by lowering tolls paid by drivers and truckers.
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Sunday, April 24, 2011

A rare nod to our senior citizens

PET scan of a human brain with Alzheimer's diseaseImage via Wikipedia
A brain scan of a human with Alzheimer's disease.

Several years after Editor Francis Scandale took over at The Record, readership started falling. His response was to tailor news coverage to 20-year-olds in what turned out to be a failed strategy for attracting new readers.

But his affection for 20- and 30-year-olds continues as he and other editors give the back of their hands to older workers and older readers.

They replaced the food editor with a young, inexperienced man; routinely ignore the challenges facing elderly drivers and run far more stories on autism than on Alzheimer's disease.

So today's lively, Page 1 story on two North Jersey residents who are looking forward to their 100th birthdays comes as a pleasant surprise. 

It's especially poignant having been written by Jay Levin, an accomplished reporter whose local obituaries usually end up on the back pages.

Never a safe city

At the top of A-1, the first chief quoted in the story on police cutbacks is the head of the force in Englewood, where residents and pedestrians aren't safe even when the department is at full strength.

The assignment desk and staff in Woodland Park must have taken a three-day weekend, if a Star-Ledger story on school budgets was needed to plug a hole on A-1 today.

Bathroom idles

Scandale, Sykes and other editors were alarmed their smart phones stored their locations and could reveal how much time they waste in bathrooms (A-1 and A-7), instead of getting out of the office, talking to their neighbors and learning something -- anything -- about North Jersey.

Wrong again

On the Local front, Road Warrior John Cichowski is wrong when he calls the Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid an "electric" car.

Readers looking for municipal news in head Assignment Editor Deirdre Sykes's section will find not one, not two, but three stories about historic preservation (L-1 and L-3).

Leaves a bad taste

The reporter who wrote a gushing profile about the Corrado family appears to have never shopped or purchased expired food in one of its North Jersey food stores, where the quality of produce has dropped in recent years. (Business front). 

The flagship Clifton store has been known to cover the use-by date on salad mixes with a price sticker.

The Corner Table Columnist Elisa Ung appears to be tired of leaving the office. At the end of her Sunday column on the Better Living front, she asks readers for tips to help her write two future columns.

What's next? Polling customers and publishing their opinions in her restaurant reviews?
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Saturday, April 23, 2011

Editors fiddle while New Jersey burns

Good fortune for Meadowlands Xanadu?Image by beedubz via Flickr
Owners of Xanadu hope there is a huge pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

Editor Francis Scandale leads The Record today with a front-page story on political bickering between Governor Christie and the most powerful Democrat in the Legislature -- while New Jersey burns (A-1).

Instead of reporting when Xanadu construction will resume or whether a makeover is in the cards, Scandale runs another story on its weird exterior (A-1). Is this the 19th or 20th piece by Staff Writer John Brennan on the same subject?

Rich man's toy

Did anyone bother reading more than the first few paragraphs of Mike Kelly's boring, long-winded column on a wealthy man who wants to blow $10 million on a skating rink for his kids that would be disguised as a house  (A-1)? Now, Kelly has become a rich man's toy.

An OpEd piece by PSE&G defends the safety of solar panels mounted on telephone polls (A-11). It's too bad they weren't designed to fall and knock some sense into drivers of gas-guzzling SUVs.

Mitsuwa MarketplaceImage via Wikipedia

Japan v. Korea

On the Better Living front, Bill Ervolino's Jersey Scene column classifies a big, expensive Japanese supermarket in Edgewater as among "the little known, unusual and sometimes weird things in New Jersey."

A Japanese supermarket has operated there for more than two decades -- what's so weird about that?

Unfortunately, his guides at Mitsuwa Marketplace are two men -- one Japanese, one American -- who preside over the store's annual "cutting" of the giant bluefin tuna, a performance many shoppers boycott because the Japanese are driving those huge fish toward extinction.

Ervolino also treats the Japanese with deference, something he didn't do for the Koreans he wrote about when he visited a big Korean supermarket in Ridgefield, as Eye on The Record reported Nov. 1:
"What happens when you turn a clown loose in H Mart in Ridgefield, a large Korean supermarket that has one of the best selections of fresh fish, Asian greens and other produce in North Jersey? 

"See the Better Living front, where Staff Writer Bill Ervolino chooses to buy and eat mystery pork and beef, and in the process makes fun of one of his Korean guides' English and parodies her diet, focusing on live octopus while ignoring all the healthy tofu and vegetables Koreans eat in main and side dishes."

Friday, April 22, 2011

Christie butts heads with state's high court

HAMMONTON, NJ  - MARCH 29:  New Jersey Governo...Image by Getty Images via @daylife
Governor Christie to teachers and everyone else: Do what I say or else.

A governor full of hubris, saying he might defy a ruling of the state's highest court, would be front-page news anywhere but at The Record of Woodland Park, where Editor Francis Scandale is famous for news misjudgment going way back to 9/11.

So, readers have to turn to Page A-3 for a Star-Ledger story reporting Governor-cum-Dictator Christie will close hospitals and lay off cops and firefighters, if the Supreme Court orders him to restore more than $1 billion in education funds -- if he even obeys the ruling.

Christie -- at heart, an argumentative lawyer who has The Record and other media in his pocket -- is really pissed that Associate Justice Barry Albin twice mentioned how Christie cut school aid to low-income children, but refused to impose a millionaires tax to raise $1 billion in new revenue.

To Scandale, this brewing constitutional crisis appears to be less far less significant than more of Christie's do-what-I say-or-else tough talk to teachers, a story that leads A-1 today.

News revolution?

When I first looked at Page 1, I thought the news clerks and reporters had seized control of the newsroom and run a story on the rise of the Tea Party and the Republicans' drive to preserve wealth:

How greed movement
shaped North Jersey

Wait a second. That story is about a different kind of "green." I misread the headline. Never mind. The Record's editors still are marching to the drums of the spoiled Borg siblings.

Searching for municipal news in Local, readers find lots of Law & Order news -- courtesy of head Assignment Editor Deirdre Sykes and her minions.

Sykes needed two gee-whiz but non-fatal accident photos to fill space on L-2 and L-8.

Poor geography lesson

A huge Better Living cover photo of chicken -- presumably pumped up with antibiotics -- whets readers' appetites for Elisa Ung's review of Mekong Grill, a new Vietnamese restaurant in Ridgewood.

Ung reports that for years before Mekong Grill opened, "Bergen-based food lovers" drove to Spring Valley, N.Y., "to get their Vietnamese fix."

But nothing could be farther from the truth: Chef K.T. Tran has been dishing out great Vietnamese food at a take-out stand or restaurants in Cresskill, Fort Lee, Englewood and Tenafly for well over 15 years.

In fact, in a review just three months ago, Ung praised Tran's "precise cooking and fresh Vietnamese flavors" at her newest restaurant, Simply Vietnamese. 
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Thursday, April 21, 2011

It could be payback time at the Supreme Court

The New Jersey Turnpike Authority building as ...Image via Wikipedia
The Turnpike Authority wants to privatize toll collections, but not cut tolls.

New Jersey's beleaguered middle class is seeing a glimmer of hope the state's high court will shove a millionaires tax down Governor Christie's big, fat mouth.

The Record reported on Page 1 today that Christie sent a former attorney general to cop a plea before the Supreme Court on Wednesday, hoping to squirm out of having to restore more than $1 billion cut from the public schools.

Christie's mouthpiece told the justices: We're broke. Give us a break from having to meet the constitutional mandate of a "thorough-and-efficient" education.

But Associate Justice Barry Albin was skeptical, Staff Writer Leslie Brody reported, noting that last year, Christie did not reinstate a tax surcharge on the wealthiest residents that raised about $1 billion -- money that could have been used to aid schools.

As residents await the ruling, they can only hope it's payback time at the high court, which lost its only African-American justice last year after the conservative Republican bully refused to grant him tenure.

The Great Seal of the State of New Jersey.Image via Wikipedia

Is the New Jersey Turnpike Authority's attempt to get rid of the toll collectors union (A-1) getting better coverage than Christie's assault on the far larger public employees union? 

Wrong headline

The headline on the lead Page 1 story -- "Roommate faces 10 years" -- is far more appropriate for a story reporting he was convicted and faces 10 years at sentencing than for an indictment story.

Isn't it likely Dharun Ravi will plea-bargain the bias charge in the suicide of a Ridgewood teen and get a short jail term and community service, if that?

In head Assignment Editor Deirdre Sykes' Local section, the only Hackensack news is a school health fair to combat childhood obesity, and the arrest of a suspect in a store holdup,

A health fair to combat adult obesity is long overdue in the Woodland Park newsroom.

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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Editors continue to soil their clothes

World Trade Center: View from HobokenImage by wallyg via Flickr
Water will fill the void left by destruction of the World Trade Center on 9/11.

Today's Page 1 story about a driver and driver's aide who forgot about a 4-year-old trapped on a school bus reminds me of how Publisher Stephen A. Borg took over in mid-2006 and forgot all about the editors trapped in the newsroom.

And like the boy, who urinated in his pants, Editors Francis Scandale, Deirdre Sykes, Barbara Jaeger, Liz Houlton, Tim Nostrand and others repeatedly soil their clothes in a journalistic sense with crappy reporting and writing -- leaving many readers howling in disbelief. 

Pipe dreams

The main element today likely is the first time a story about plumbing (for the 9/11 memorial waterfalls) has been splashed all over the front page of The Record of Woodland Park.

But you have to plow through all the reporting on nuts, bolts and pipes, and gee-whiz statistics before you learn -- deep into the text on the continuation page (A-6) -- that Staff Writer Shawn Boburg buried the human, emotional story of how one plumber's mother died in the Twin Towers on 9/11. 

The story also is silent on why hundreds of solar panels weren't incorporated into the design to drastically cut the estimated $1.7 million annual cost of electricity to move all that water. Or why plumbers charge so much.

Who is Boburg's clueless assignment editor?

Let's make a deal

Governor Christie is gambling that even legal bills of $3 million to $4 million would be justified, if he can get the Feds to accept half or a third of the $271 million debt left from the Hudson River rial tunnels he stopped dead in their tracks (A-1).

New Jersey lawmakers now are following the example of their counterparts in Wisconsin -- they're refusing to act on Christie's legislative initiatives -- pissing off the Republican bully (A-4). 

Baseball justice

A letter to the editor from Howard Shaw of Rutherford asks if Judge Donald Venezia was wearing a Mets or Yankee shirt under his robes when he gave Dwight Gooden a get-out-of-jail card for DUI driving with his 5-year-old in the back seat (A-10). 

Should Venezia be censured by the Supreme Court? Did the reporter who covered the April 15 hearing ask prosecutors if they could appeal the ruling?

Shell-shocked readers

You know the Local news report is in trouble, when Sykes has to put on her front page a story about a Northvale man who found a bazooka shell in his garage. 

Road Warrior John Cichowski writes another column from the comfort of his computer chair -- an AAA report on the cost of driving a car (L-1). 

Chick has asked Sykes for a cot and small refrigerator to make his long office stays more comfortable.

In place of municipal news, readers get a lot of police news and court stories throughout Local today.

Dishonest reporting

In a Better Living story on pitching your book idea in Ridgewood that ran Tuesday, Staff Writer Mike Kerwick fails to tell readers you have to buy a copy of "The Essential Guide to Getting Your Book Published" in order to qualify.

According to Bookends, only 20 people who buy the book will be able to pitch their ideas in person to the authors and a "major" publisher. That information also was missing from the story.

Life is easy for Food Editor Susan Leigh Sherrill, whose entire job seems to be publishing a single recipe on Wednesdays (F-1), plus writing a few items for the Second Helpings blog and tweeting her brains out.
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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Star-Ledger 3, The Record A Big Fat 0

The Pulitzer Prize gold medal awardImage via Wikipedia
The Pulitzer Prize Gold Medal.

"I should never have listened to them! I should never have listened to them!" Editor Francis Scandale wailed as he pounded his desk in the Woodland Park newsroom, recalling 9/11 and the night he blew winning a Pulitzer Prize for The Record.

"Now, Frank, there's always next year," head Assignment Editor Deirdre Sykes -- Mother of All Editors -- said soothingly as she tried to comfort the boss.

Scandale was reacting to Monday's news that The Star-Ledger of Newark won its third Pulitzer Prize since January 2001, when he took over at The Record (A-7). 

'Pull It, Sir'

Instead of winning journalism's biggest prize for The Record, Scandale has become "Pull It, Sir," in the colorful vernacular of Jerry DeMarco, former Breaking News editor.

About eight months after Scandale arrived in Hackensack, he faced the biggest story of his career -- the 9/11 attack on America, which was visible from the newsroom -- and blew it big time when he put a potentially Pulitzer Prize-winning photo on a back page.

Of course, I can only guess at the reasoning of Pulitzer board members. but why give a prize to a photo even the newspaper didn't think worthy of the front page?

Unique image

Photographer Thomas E. Franklin's image of firefighters defiantly raising the American flag over the ruins of the World Trade Center would have advanced the story and made The Record's front page unique among the world's newspapers.

Bowing to pressure from the business side -- he was told it would be "too expensive" to re-make A-1 -- Scandale slunk away with his tail between his legs, marking the first of his many failures in the job.

And it was a job he probably got because he had helped The Denver Post win a Pulitzer for its coverage of the Columbine massacre in 1999.

In 2008, The Record's coverage of the EnCap golf-resort project was a finalist in the local news category of the Pulitzer competition -- in other words, an also-ran. 

Today's paper

Oh no. A verklempt Scandale allowed Staff Writer Deena Yellin to hijack the front page today for a another story and big photo about those crazy Orthodox Jews and their obscure rituals (and she's one of them). 

This reminds me of how Scandale always assigned two Castro-hating Cuban exiles to write about Cuba for The Record.

Does even 1 out of every 1,000 Jews burn bread and other chametz before Passover? And the photo of a rabbi in a fire helmet doesn't even show any bread being burned. Can Scandale get any more desperate than this?

Readers shouldn't hold their collective breath for Yellin stories on Orthodox Jews who are trying to take over municipal councils and school boards in Englewood and Teaneck, so they can cut the taxes they pay for public schools their kids don't use. 

Screwing the middle class

Despite an A-3 story on protests over big companies not paying taxes on billions of profits, the clueless Business staff fails to come up with a story on how they do it.

Also on A-3, Governor Christie is so busy trying to find new ways of destroying the middle-class way of life in New Jersey, he didn't pay his taxes on time.

Arrogant judge

Editorial Page Editor Alfred P. Doblin deserves rare praise for an A-10 editorial calling a non-custodial sentence for former baseball player Dwight Gooden "absurd" and criticizing Superior Court Judge Donald Venezia for ignoring the "public's interest."

Two Ridgewood stories appear in Sykes' Local section today, but none from Hackensack. Still, Sykes has to use another one of those gee-whiz, non-fatal accident photos to fill space (L-6).

Rubbing salt in wounds

With gasoline heading for $4 a gallon amid record unemployment and housing foreclosures, doesn't Restaurant Reviewer Elisa Ung's lavish meal at a restaurant in far off Red Bank sound a lot like fiddling while Rome burns (Better Living front)?

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Monday, April 18, 2011

Forcing readers to do the math

The skyline of Paterson, New Jersey showing th...Image via Wikipedia
The Passaic River canyon, foreground, and the city of Paterson.

Would it kill Editor Francis Scandale to assign a story that draws together all the proposed state budget-cutting proposals and possible sources of revenue -- so readers don't have to keep a pad and pencil by their side and do the match as information appears in dribs and drabs?

In The Record of Woodland Park today, an A-3 story from The Star-Ledger provides Governor Christie's "most detailed explanation" to date of how he would cut public employees' health benefits. The plan would save $870 million a year by 2014, Treasury officials say.

Busting myths

On Sunday, also on A-3, The Star-Ledger reported New Jersey gained about $1 billion a year from 2004 to 2007 from higher taxes on residents making more than $500,000 a year -- and lost only $16.4 million in tax revenue from those who left the state in the same three years.

Why isn't The Record staff doing these stories? Does Scandale fear readers would see instantly how Christie is waging a war financed by the Borgs and other wealthy residents against public workers and other segments of the middle class?

Shafting commuters

Page 1 today is filled with a lot of what-ifs, but the lead story raises the possibility the state could lose federal funding of the proposed Amtrak tunnel under the Hudson River. 

If that happens, Christie will have railroaded commuters by pulling the plug on an earlier tunnel project and thumbing his nose at billions in federal funds -- while steering hundreds of thousands of dollars in fees to a high-powered law firm to fight the Feds' demand for repayment of other money.

Broken city

Has Paterson always been mismanaged? The layoffs of 392 municipal workers, including 125 police officers, "officially" takes effect today, but the story is buried on Page L-8 in head Assignment Editor Deirdre Sykes' Local section.

Is Christie going to ride to the rescue of the Silk City at the head of a posse of state police? Don't hold your breath. The governor is no friend of blacks, as he showed by dismissing the state Supreme Court's only African-American justice.

And, of course, Sykes and the other editors have never shown any affection for blacks or Hispanics -- inside or outside of the newsroom.

Out of gas

In Sunday's Travel section, a lone Asian woman broke the all-white color barrier of the T-3 photo feature called "The Record on The Road." What a diverse readership.

Travel Editor Jill Schensul's T-1 cover story on the rising cost of travel contains this gem: "With the price of gas reaching record-breaking proportions ...."
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