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|The Pulitzer Prize Gold Medal.|
Tuesday, April 19, 2011
The Star-Ledger 3, The Record A Big Fat 0
"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?
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.
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.
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)?