Thursday, June 23, 2011

Winking at obesity as they winked at sex

Two mice; the mouse on the left has more fat s...Image via Wikipedia
Head Assignment Editor Deirdre Sykes, left, and Editor Frank Scandale.

The Record's editors continue to play with readers by running unflattering photos of Governor Christie on the front page -- as they do today -- but remaining mum on his chronic overeating, the poor image he presents and what, if anything, the state is doing to fight obesity.

Newspaper editors once treated public officials' sex escapades as private matters. Now, it seems, obesity is the new sex.


On Feb. 20, a story on A-3 of The Record apparently was the first full discussion of Christie's weight since he took office in January 2010.  

A second piece on Page O-2 that day, an Opinion column by a Washington Post staffer, said the governor makes fat jokes at his own expense.

The Feb. 20 news story reported Christie had been working out with a trainer and losing weight. Neither his overall weight or how much he has lost is listed.

The AP story said the governor is losing weight so he can "be around" for his children, not that he's about to launch a campaign against the obesity epidemic.

Today's A-1 photo has an over line calling Christie "calmer," not "thinner." A few weeks ago, a Page 1 photo of Christie in a state police helicopter showed just how big he is. 

Throwing weight around

Head Assignment Editor Deirdre Sykes is recognized by many as the real power in the newsroom, even though she probably makes half the salary of Editor Francis Scandale.

Sykes apparently determines what investigations the staff pursues, what stories it reports and what photos it runs, especially in Local. Scandale apparently gets a bone -- determining what goes on Page 1.

So, is it Sykes who stands in the way of a series on the obesity epidemic and frank discussion of the food demons that assail the governor? After all, like him, she is a chronic overeater, as is Projects Editor Tim Nostrand.

Something is rotten in Woodland Park.

Ignoring fat cats

Boy, talk about a dramatic lead story today and a headline that screams:

7 days to find $800M

But the headline is a lie. Lawmakers know where to find $800 million to balance the state budget -- even more -- if only Christie would approve a tax surcharge on millionaires.

Here, again, Scandale and Sykes wink at the so-called millionaires tax, as they do at the obesity epidemic.

In the second year of debate over the surcharge, The Record still has not reported how many millionaires support Christie and contribute to his war chest -- in what could be seen as his own private pay-to-play scheme.

The lead story, by Staff Writer John Reitmeyer, reports on A-6 the deal to cut benefits for state employees will save only $10 million in the new budget year, compared to the $323 million Christie hoped to salvage.

Also on A-1, Political Stile Columnist Charles Stile reports the governor said at a Fair Lawn meeting the bill to cut union benefits would "save taxpayers $132 billion over the next 30 years." 

In an OpEd piece on A-21, Jeff Tittel of the Sierra Club asks the question the editorial page editor has never asked -- why is the state bailing out Xanadu and not NJN?

Who will profit?

Now that the Hackensack City Council has approved a makeover for 39 blocks on and around Main Street (L-1), I'm waiting for the paper to report whether any members of the Upper Main Alliance will profit from land transactions needed to make the plan a reality.

Jerome Lomardo is chairman of the group, which oversees a special improvement district and backs the plan. He also runs a real estate company with an office on Main Street, and it's believed other alliance members own land on or near the street.

The photo at the bottom of L-1 shows Sykes is again relying on gee-whiz, non-fatal accidents as a substitute for local news.

And do readers need an L-1 column by Stile on the same Fair Lawn town hall-style meeting he wrote about in great detail on A-1 today? 

More lying photos

On the front of Better Living, three photos show an embalmed Larry King, animal abuse at the state fair in the Meadowlands and Roberta Flack as she hasn't looked in more than 30 years.

Why do newspapers continue to run publicity photos of singers, musicians and others, including their own columnists, that try to turn back the clock?
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