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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  1. As usual, Mr. Sasson, you are right on the money. After all, the Star-Ledger deserves nothing but praise for essentially abandoning all of its local news coverage in favor of pursuing Pulitzers. Oh wait...isn't that precisely what you attack The Record for doing? I can't seem to read the text at the top of your blog.
    I suppose you would be lauding The Record if it had actually won a Pulitzer. But, as you so adroitly point out, the paper was only a finalist. God knows that being a Pulitzer finalist is an utter failure. I'm sure you would simply toss the finalist plaque in the garbage and quit journalism forever if you ever received such a worthless, insulting "honor."
    And kudos for confirming what we all know: that Orthodox Jews are "crazy" adherents of an "obscure" religion. The Record has done many stories I can recall about Orthodox candidates for school board and the implications for taxes and services, but only when there actually WERE Orthodox candidates running for school board. A good journalist, however, would simply make up some candidates so that Victor could have his quota of stories about those power-greedy Orthodox Jews.

  2. I don't think you get a plaque for being a finalist or Scandale would wear it on a chain around his neck.

    He's only spent an entire decade reminding the staff he worked at The Denver Post when it won the prize for Columbine.

    Not all Orthodox Jews are power-greedy, as you put it.

  3. Wow, somebody sure touched a raw nerve with the haters out there. Way to go, Vic. Said commentator didn't even detect the teensiest bit of hyperbole in the phrase "crazy" orthodox jews, and probably thought you meant all orthodox jews are indeed crazy.
    As for the Pulitzer, the Star Ledger is indeed to be commended for doing something the right way, and I don't think they did it for the sole purpose of entering it for a prize. Their visionary reporter wanted to tell the a great story the way it needed to be told, multimedia, four parts, six months and all. Mind you, I assume it's a great story. It isn't like I've read it. But for a commentator to say the Star Ledger has abandoned its local coverage, enought of that local coverage sure winds up in the Record, so they couldn't have abandoned it all that much.
    Keep that fire burning under mister scandale's pants.

  4. Hey, Victor, how would you know Scandale keeps talking about Denver. When's the last time you were in a newsroom? As I remember it, you threw your crybaby fit five years ago, practically got fired then, and then guaranteed you'd never get a chance to stick around for the combined copy desk.

    Your writings reveal your lack of even the most basic inside information - clearly you burned all your bridges - and many of the details you put out show your bad memory. Even the stupid stuff, like Deirdre Sykes wearing "tent dresses." Ever actually see her in a dress.

    For the Record, John Cichowski doesn't chain himself to a desk; he doesn't even work out of the newsroom, idiot. Sachi Fujimori isn't the only Japanese staffer in the newsroom (not even the only one in her department, and the one you miss is a hilarious omission on your part).

    Seriously, stick to what you read in the paper and leave the rest of the alleged facts to people who are already there. You look like an idiot.

  5. Thanks.

    I am an Orthodox Jew, but not an observant one and not one of the fanatics, not one of the "crazy" ones.

    When I was growing up, kosher was good enough for me. What's glatt kosher?

    My father sold dry goods on the Lower East Side.

    As for The Star-Ledger, I'm sure it's local coverage is still strong and it is doing a far better, more responsible job than Scandale et. al. covering the state budget crisis and new revenue sources than The Record, which prints a ton of Star-Ledger stories.

    I'm going to take a look at the story that won the Newark paper the latest Pulitzer.

    I'm sure it didn't consumer nearly three years and hundreds of thousands of dollars in salaries for up to four reporters -- including Jean Rimbach and Monsy Alvarado -- as The Record's probe of Michael Mordaga did, under the incompetent direction of Deirdre Sykes, only to merit a single story on the Local front the paper was ashamed of submitting to any competition.

  6. To the Anonymous commenter who calls me an idiot, I can only say that I have the courage to put a name to my idiocy -- as opposed to him or her.

    Joh Cichowski's stuff reads like he never leaves the office. He certainly never rides mass transit and writes about those commuters' problems.

    OK. I heard Scandale talk about Denver and Reuters for more than seven years. Why would he have stopped? He doesn't have anything to boast about in his current job.

    Sachi may not be the only Japanese staffer, but my point is that she is the most qualified to cover a big story like the quake and tsunami.

    As for what Deirdre wears, her clothng is unflattering, large size and far from feminine.

  7. The Record now has a combined copy desk? Meaning universal combined, or just Record-Herald News combined? Does Sports still have its own rim? And whether Cichowski works in the office or out of his home, his columns are still an embarrassment.

  8. Record-Herald News combined, as far as I know, with the Herald copy editors dragging down the desk.

    Yes. Chick's columns continue to be an embarrassment.

  9. While your attacks on the Record are amusing, your stance that Christie is trying to destroy the middle class is laughable, tough guy.

    If anything he's trying to save it. Not everyone is in a public union. You arent either, so why the hatred for His Honor?

  10. His Dishonor, you mean.

    He's pitting the unions against middle-class homeowners and seniors, who are being promised tax cuts, but only if Christie can cut public workers' health-care costs.

    He's working so hard to preserve the wealth of the rich people who support him, he cut more than $1 billion from public schools, but hopefully, will draw the wrath of the Supreme Court, as I suggested in today's post.

    He is working in league with other Republicans in Congress to destroy the entitlement programs people like me rely on in retirement.

    He is the worse governor the state has ever had and if you disagree with him, he will try to destroy you in public.

    He's got editors at The Record and other media eating out of his hands.


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