Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Disappointing readers day after day

O.J. Simpson on the cover of Newsweek and TIME.Image via Wikipedia
Add Casey Anthony to the murder defendants who have been acquitted in the manner of O.J. Simpson after a deeply flawed police investigation.

Are you as disappointed as I am when you unfold the paper and look at another front page that tries to distract readers from the mess we're all in?

Most of Page 1 in The Record today is devoted to two sensational trials -- including an O.J. Simpson-like verdict in the murder of a 2-year-old Florida girl --  while a third story puts a positive spin on the state budget signed by Governor Christie.

The GOP governor signed the budget nearly a week ago, so why is Editor Francis Scandale giving us the details in dribs and drabs?

Wrong court

Front-page play for sports writer Bob Klapisch is true desperation. Has the columnist ever covered a trial? 

It doesn't sound like it from the lead paragraph, where he claims Andy Pettitte has "memorized what to say on the witness stand." 

(How often does a witness named Pettitte appear before a petit jury?) 

Judging from the coverage of the murder trial in Orlando, you'd think Florida is New Jersey's 22nd county. 

The likely explanation for the acquittal of Casey Anthony is another flawed investigation by local police, though that's not really discussed in the story.

Dig to find the pain

The pain of the budget for struggling cities and middle- and working class families is left for A-3, and a story on Senate President Stephen Sweeney refusing to apologize for calling Christie "a rotten bastard."

Sweeney should get some credit for not calling the governor "a rotten, fat  bastard."

More details on the state budget's downside can be found in a letter to the editor from Arnold Korotkin of Little Falls (A-8) -- another example of how readers often learn more from other readers than from the paper itself.

Another budget cut, for Urban Enterprise Zones, is discussed in a story on the first Business page (L-9).

Scandale's job is to pull this together for readers. It's called packaging the news. Instead, he just collects his six-figure salary and relaxes on the golf course. What a disgrace.

God forbid, The Record should criticize our wonderful governor or call his budget "cruel and mean-spirited," as Sweeney did.

Another car column

On the front of Local, head Assignment Editor Deirdre Sykes' hand-picked Road Warrior columnist tells readers something they don't know -- cars are not boats.

There is news from many towns, plus an unusual four pages of death notices, but nothing from Hackensack or Teaneck.

A brief on L-3 reports a missing 14-year-old Englewood girl -- subject of two earlier stories -- returned home more than four days ago.

Senior road kill

Another brief, on L-8, reports that Aleksander Shlahet, 77, of Allendale accomplished nothing in life before a car driven by a 73-year-old woman struck his bicycle and killed him on Monday.

Who was Shlahet? Had he been a scientist or a poet? Did he have a wife, grandchildren? Oh, he's over 70. He's of no interest to the youth-oriented assignment editors.

The Record has always treated seniors who kill or die in auto accidents as worth nothing more than briefs or maybe a photo and caption.

The challenges facing older drivers? Help available for them, maybe from all those North Jersey police departments headed by chiefs making more than the governor? 

The editors just don't care.
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