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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  1. How many followers do you have on your Twitter feed? What is it again?

  2. How many reporters??? Boy is your info outdated.

  3. Generally speaking, I agree with the thrust of your argument that the Record has ceased to cover Bergen County as well as it historically has; and has geographically morphed into a northern regional edition (subpar in comparison) of the Star-Ledger. However, considering it is still family-owned (a newspaper in such an important local market in 2011 family-owned is amazing!), and has strived to stay relevant, aren't you being a bit gratuitous and harsh in your general and more minute criticism of the 'Woodland Park' Record?

    P.S. The Record MUST zone its paper again. That is, Bergen edition, at least, to separate from Essex/Morris/Hudson/Passaic, for the local sections if nothing else.

  4. Sherrill responded to you? Aren't Record staffers forbidden to read this blog?

  5. I don't know about zoning. There isn't much coverage of Essex and Hudson (unless it comes from The Star-Ledger), and Morris goes with Passaic.

    I do know that going back to 2007 and possibly earlier -- before the downsizing and merger with the Herald News -- Deirdre Sykes and her assignment desk consistently failed day after day to generate enough news to fill the Bergen edition, forcing layout editors to use lots of Passaic County news in their pages.

    The bitching and moaning from Jim " Corny" Cornelius on the layout desk could be heard clearly from the news copy desk where I worked until May 2008.

  6. Susan Sherrill is no ordinary "staffer." Her career has been championed by none other than Publisher Stephen A. Borg.

  7. Don't worry. She like everyone else he has championed will be ushered out in time. Frank is his only department head left from five years ago. No doubt she will run afoul of him the way her predecessor did and be on her way.

    And I don't think anybody has been fires for reading this. It's bloked at the office anyway and people are too busy doing the work of three other people (that includes Ms. Sherrill who supervises half of the features staff and spends most of her day doing things other than food, not that you would know or care since it doesnt help you argument) to have time to read it. Also, most don't care, to be totally honest with you. Your rAnts are, from the inside, taken with a grain of salt. We know most of what you say isnt rational or fair or based on current information. But we still love to read it. It's like the unibomber's diary.

  8. Frank isn't the only department head left, is he?

    What about Deirdre Sykes in Assignment, Liz Houlton in Production, Barbara Jaeger in Features or do you mean department as in news, advertising, classified, circulation etc.?

    How could I possibly know that Sherrill supervises "half" of the features staff, but why should a food editor be doing that?

    Food and nutrition deserve more coverage, not less.


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