Friday, April 15, 2011

Errors, omissions and arrogance

Loretta Weinberg at The College of New JerseyImage via Wikipedia
Governor Christie told reporters to "take the bat" to Sen. Lorette Weinberg, above.

Staff Writer Elisa Ung's review of a Turkish restaurant in the South Paterson section of Paterson today is a painful reminder of the serious error she made when she reviewed another Turkish place nearly two years ago and called the ethnic enclave "Little Istanbul." 

For many Syrian merchants -- who settled the neighborhood decades before and whose ancestors lived under the heel of Turkish rule -- Ung's July 2009 whopper was a big slap in the face.

In her ignorance and arrogance, she never ran an A-2 correction in The Record, but two months later, wrote a corrective article featuring Syrian and Palestinian food places in the same neighborhood -- one dating to 1968 -- long before the Turks arrived. 

Even the September 2009 article didn't acknowledge her original error.

Defending women 

In today's review in Better Living, she seems shocked that Sahara Restaurant is across the street from "a gentlemen's club," and takes pain to tell readers the Turkish place is "less appropriate" for those who would "feel uncomfortable" in such a neighborhood.

How prudish. But she doesn't know or say the surrounding Paterson Farmers' Market has just about the lowest produce prices in North Jersey.

Dissing readers

You'll find more arrogance today from Road Warrior John Cichowski, who seems to think his readers are home-bound and clueless about New Jersey and recreation.
Desperate to avoid writing about commuters who use mass transit, he sails off in a new direction with a column on boats and seems to think it necessary to treat readers like morons:

"Boating? In April? Yes, the Garden State, after all, is a peninsula state." Duh.

On A-1 today, Editor Francis Scandale had so little legitimate news to work with, he ran a big photo of people lining up in Newark to audition for a TV show. No one is lining up to work for the editor of the Woodland Park daily.

Dissing women 

Scandale was careful to push below the fold on Page 1 criticism of Governor Christie by state Sen. Loretta Weinberg, who said the Republican bully continues "to show the level of insensitivity and poor judgment ... on women's issues since getting elected."

Frankly, I was surprised at Staff Writer Elise Young's clunky introduction to the story.

But the low page position was no surprise, given how poorly women have fared under Scandale and Features Director Barbara Jaeger, who seems to hold real disdain for other women, with the exception of lunch pal Liz Houlton, who has been promoted repeatedly despite her poor job performance. 

Jaeger forced long-time Food Editor Patricia Mack into retirement in 2006, replacing her with an unqualified man half her age; made life miserable for onetime Go! Editor Trudy Walz; and stripped Virginia Rohan and Colleen Diskin of their column-writing duties -- presumably all with Scandale's backing.

An embarrassing correction and clarification appear on A-2 today.   

War on residents

In the last paragraph of an A-3 story, Christie is warning middle- and working-class residents he will cut health care and other services, if the state Supreme Court rules his education cuts were unconstitutional. Why isn't this on Page 1?

The governor is essentially saying he will obey the high court, but screw the majority of state residents to do it -- not find such new sources of revenue as taxing the Borgs and other millionaires.

Another error

The lead story in head Assignment Editor Deirdre Sykes' Local section is Bergen County Executive Kathleen Donovan's first State of the County address, which took place on Thursday, according to the A-1 refer and L-1 story, or on Wednesday, according to the L-1 photo caption.

Sykes couldn't fill the space in her section without a large, gee-whiz photo of a non-fatal accident on L-1.

There's no truth to the rumor the photo shows her car, which was involved in a collision on her way back from the mall, where she was shopping for something more flattering than her usual tent dresses.

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  1. It's not called Little Istanbul? I've heard it called that for years. I've also heard it called Little Baghdad and Little Ramalah and Little Arabia. How choosing one of the variations is a slap in the face is beyond me. I suspect if people really find that offensive, they probably are more offended by the fact that Turks deign to live in the same neighborhood more than that people acknowledge it with a nickname.

    Why would she write about produce prices at a different business in a restaurant review? Is that what you would do if you had the chance to write reviews? If I'm reading a review about Minado, I don't need to know much much tilapia costs at H Mart, do I?

    And I don't know what including non-relevant information has to do with being - or not being -prudish. Can you elaborate?

    (P.S. The reporter who wrote a story you referenced is Elise Young, not Elisa Young. You seem a little obsessed with this Elisa woman. Do you hate minorities or something?)

  2. I have eaten in its restaurants, shopped for food and written about South Paterson for more than 30 years, and have never heard it called anything but South Paterson.

    If you don't know how "Little Istanbul" is a slap in the face, then you don't know the history of the Ottoman Empire and how it oppressed many people, including Syrians, and how it tried to exterminated others like the Armenians.

    The point I was trying to make is what does a gentlemen's club across the street have to do with her review? Did she see men urinating in the street? Why mention it?

    As for produce prices, it's relevant when the restaurant is located in the Paterson Farmers' Market.

    Thanks for the heads up on my typo in Elise Young's name. I've fixed that.

  3. I guess that makes sense. I look forward to reading about the prices at Bloomingdales next time you write about Rosa Mexicano. You know, since they're in the same complex.

  4. The prices at Bloomingdale's are nothing to write about.

  5. I was born and raised in South Paterson, never ever have I heard it referred to as "Little Baghdad" as another commenter has suggested. Where that name would even come in to play is beyond me, as there is no significant Iraqi population in the area, nor has there ever been one. The name "Little Ramallah" has been prevalent since the 90s when Palestinian immigrants began becoming one of the dominant groups. That actually wasn't the only error in Ung's piece, as she goes on to state that most of South Paterson's restaurants are owned by Muslims, which is not true, just ask the owners of Al Rouche, Bulfuf, La Ziza, Sultan or many others.

  6. Thanks, Chuck.

    It's clear that Elisa Ung -- along with other reporters and columnists at The Record -- often writes off the top of her head with little regard for truth or accuracy.


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