Monday, July 4, 2011

Local news takes a holiday

"Declaration of Independence" - This...Image via Wikipedia
Hackensack residents gather, hoping to catch sight of a Record reporter.


When the legal citizenship process in New Jersey stretched to two years or more, The Record couldn't care less, preferring to push readers' buttons with endless stories about illegal immigrants.

Today, on the front page, Staff Writer Monsy Alvarado provides a glowing report on a streamlined, 4.2-month citizenship process.

Another positive story about immigrants appears on the Local front (L-1). God bless America.

Don't look for much in the way of local news today.

Taking a break

The assignment desk working under Editor Deirdre Sykes is a well-honed machine, mining press releases, surveys, reports and meetings for the local report, as pathetic as it is.

"Nothing happens" in the towns over a long holiday weekend. The incoming faxes are few and far between in the newsroom.

Municipal reporters like Alvarado don't even have to go to their communities regularly, unless they have to cover an occasional meeting.

Talk to residents? Write a Talk of the Town every once in a while to gauge the mood of taxpayers and uncover government incompetence? You've got to be kidding.

Just quote the gadflies who attend every meeting. No fuss, no muss.

Still missing?

On Friday and Saturday, stories in Local reported Megan Lewinson, an eighth-grade girl from Englewood, was missing. 

There has been nothing in the paper since, even though she was found unharmed and, according to a family friend, attended church in Englewood on Sunday. 

New oppressor

An editorial on A-11 is about the Declaration of Independence and its guiding principle: the right to be "fairly governed" and if not, "to throw off the yoke of the oppressor."

Next to the editorial, "the oppressor" is identified in the Margulies cartoon as Governor Christie.
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  1. Mr. Sasson I recently discovered this blog and find it very interesting. Looking back over the years, when do you think the Record was at the top of its game? Was it the year 2000 or earlier than that?

  2. That's an excellent question, and I don't know if I have a good answer. I hope other staffers, current and former, weigh in on this.

    I've always felt that bringing in out-of-state editors hurt the paper, and its New Jersey identity.

    The first editor was brought in by Mac Borg from the Los Angeles Times, and some real doozies followed, the latest being Francis "Frank" Scandale, who came here in 2001 after he helped The Denver Post win a Pulitzer Prize for coverage of the Columbine massacre.

    If Scandale was brought here to help The Record win a Pulitzer, he fell flat on his face. He sacrificed local news to go after the big journalism prizes.

    Was he thwarted by head Assignment Editor Deirdre Sykes, a lifer considered by many to be the real power in the newsroom?

    Was the paper better when New Jerseyans Vivian Waixel or Glenn Ritt were the editors? I'm not really sure.

    Maybe trying to be a paper that covers international, state and local news is the problem.

    Mac may have lost focus because of his alcoholism, but now we are struggling with his son, Stephen A. Borg, whose personal gain seems to come before journalism, and his big sister, Vice President/General Counsel Jennifer A. Borg.

  3. Thanks for the reply. In your bio, you say you worked at the paper starting in 1979, so I am wondering what you think the best period was when you were there. Also, when was the person from the LA Times brought in?

  4. I'm having trouble responding. Will answer later. Thanks.

  5. Technical problems. Lost my first response.

  6. I did some Internet research.

    Byron Campbell of the Los Angeles Times was not the first out-of-town editor of The Record, he was the first out-of-towner to become publisher.

    He resigned in 1992, and Mac Borg took over as publisher.

    I believe David Hall from Texas was editor of The Record for a time, distinguishing himself by telling reporters and others not to send him e-mails.

    In the 1990s, Vivian Waixel and Glenn Ritt were editors who had lived in New Jersey for many years.

    My best years at The Record were 1979-89, when I was a reporter on the municipal, general assignment and Business desks.

    So, I would say The Record in the 1970s and 1980s, and probably a good part of the 1990s, was at its peak.

    Of course, Mac Borg lost focus because of his alcoholism. His son, Stephen, doesn't pretend to have any journalism credentials, and seems interested only in personal gain.

    His big sister, Vice President/General Counsel Jennifer A. Borg, slashed the severance package and threatens employees who use their company computers for non-business purposes, such as reading "Eye on The Record."

  7. I believe David Hall came from the Cleveland Plain Dealer to the Record, not Texas, and went to the Denver Post after he was canned. I would say the heyday of the Record was in the 1980s. The long downhill slide began, in my opinion, when Hall replaced Buddy Buranelli and the paper went through a series of, to be kind, less than competent editors. They did have one competent editor, Art (I forget his last name), but he was let go mysteriously. Buranelli had his critics as well but he at least had character and the paper flourished under him. Hall, for all his character flaws, kind of had the right idea even if it turned out to be a logistical nightmare: That was the series of zoned editions to make sure that every community was covered. This was, of course, before the days of the Internet. I've always found it kind of amusing that Frank Burgos was hired because he knew what a podcast was, yet you could probably count the number of downloaded podcasts from the Record during his tenure on one hand.

  8. Your site is blocked at work by Websense, the Internet filter.

  9. Well, David Hall must have been born in Texas, because he spoke with a twang.

    Buddy Buranelli was a wild man.

    In one incident, I recall that someone had gotten a hold of a salary list that was two to three years old, and distributed it through the Atex message system. Buddy threatened anyone who didn't delete the list with firing.

    Are you refering to Art Lenahan, who came from The Star-Ledger and was one of Francis Scandale's three managing editors? When Lenahan encountered one of the news copy editors in an unfamiliar setting, a museum in New York, he didn't recognize him.

    The Record had zoned editions when I started in 1979, lots of them, and a cadre of municipal reporters who filed stories immediately after meetings for publication the very next day -- not in two days, a week or never, as they do now.

  10. Websense has to be set up to block something, correct?

    My e-mails to anyone at The Record also are blocked.

  11. So what year was Buddy replaced, and why did that happen? Thank you for all the replies.

  12. The Record was the best 1985-1995 the people were happy and treated with respect and all felt secure with there jobs. The record ran the best when it just printed The Record Paper news and nothing else. Poor Planing for the constuction of Rockaway stressed out the people and corporate than Markey was hired to make the company work with a Gannet mentality which was all about money and not people (people first-they will make you the money).Now the spoiled little children run the company and all they care about is money and having power over people.
    THEY MUST HAVE BEEN BULLIED ON THE PLAYGROUND AS CHILDREN AND ARE NOW TAKING IT OUT ON PEOPLE THEY CAN PUSH AROUND NOW. "THERE CALLED EMPLOYEES" If the employees of The Record really new the truth about the Borgs no one would show up at there jobs. If the readers of NJ new the truth about the family no one would buy there products. Run for the Hills! Thank God for media sites like this! GOOOOOO VICTOR!

  13. No sure on Buddy. In the Nineties? Maybe someone else can answer.

  14. Wow! That last anonymous entry could use some serious editing unto itself!

  15. His/her points come across very well.

  16. A friend of mine started working at the Record circa 1988, and says Buddy was given the old heave ho shortly thereafter, so 1989 would likely be correct. And Art Lenehan is correct. I thought he was a pretty good editor.

  17. If you are a supporter of Victor's, you can do nothing wrong. If you are one of the ones he blames for relegating him to this blog instead of a paying job, you can do nothing right.

  18. When you think of it...things got really shitty when Stephen Borg took over the dailies. Not one thing about the company got even a little better.

  19. Relegating me to this blog?

    I'm comfortably retired, not a wage slave. I don't need a paying job, thank you.

    What are the people I criticize doing right? Please list it for me and others.

    If they are doing right, why isn't it visible in the paper?

  20. Amen to the comment on the Stephen Borg changes to the dailies.

  21. One other comment re: David Hall. He did start the Saturday paper which was a pretty good product/well thought out...hard to believe The Record only published six days a week. And you are correct Victor re: zoned editions. The Record had eight of them into the '80's. Now there are two...The Record and the Herald News (which should have been killed off long ago).

    1. David Hall did not start the Saturday edition. Bob Comstock was still editing the paper then, with Burinelli, Ahern and Hearn at the helm. Mac was still in the publishers chair.

    2. I worked for Business when the Saturday paper started, and was covering auto importers based in North Jersey and writing a monthly road test column of new cars.

      I recall my road test of Toyota's inaugural luxury car, the 1989 Lexus LS 400, appeared in the first Saturday edition, and that I was misled on how much space I had. It was cut and edited crudely by one of the business editors.

  22. supporter of victor ... relegating him to blogging ... I could care less about victor or why he's blogging, the fact is the Record may be the worst managed paper in the history of journalism. And it won't stop bleeding cash until it relegates the bloated salaries of do-nothings like Clancy and know nothings like Scandale and Sykes and Houlton and pumps the savings into developing talented journalists and breaking stories the way the paper once did. Nostrand, they could make him a reporter again with a substantial cut in pay. Victor may have a minor grudge against a manager or two, but his criticism of the paper's direction are for the most part accurate, and the personal attacks in return appear to be simply a way to deflect the truth.

  23. Stephen Borg has gotten rid of some of the dead wood, but Scandale, Nostrand, Houlton and, especially Sykes, seem immune.

    Remember that Nostrand failed in so many jobs before he was made projects editor, just like Jim McGarvey, who was brought back to fail in more jobs before they showed him the door a second time.

  24. To an Anonymous commentator whose comment I deleted, saying The Record is the worst-managed paper is not slander.

    To this commentator and others, pouncing on my typos and grammatical errors and tense agreement is just juvenile.

    I'm working alone here, doing my best and revising my stuff to correct errors and fix typos.

    I do a lot better than The Record, with all its so-called editors.

  25. I'm still waiting for a list of what the people I criticize are "doing right."

    Cat got your tongue or is it just more B.S.?

  26. Doug Clancy is still there? I thought he was gone long ago.

  27. Not sure. As the newsroom's budget guy, he was tightfisted and anti-employee.

    One year, he eliminated news copy desk phones, so two copy editors would have to fight over one phone.

    Anyway, Scandale didn't want you calling the reporters about mistakes, misspellings of names, missing information and so forth.

    In fact, he ordered the news copy editors to route all questions to reporters through the night editor, Rich Whitby, who taught copy editing at Ramapo but was a terrible editor himself.

    Whitby once complained to my supervisor after I sent him an e-mail asking him to call a reporter and "find out what this means," referring to a paragraph from the story I found incomprehensible.

    Whitby complained to Nancy Cherry, my supervisor, that I had "ordered" him to call a reporter, and it wasn't my place to do so. What a pussy.

    When Whitby was promoted to a day job, he spent a lot of time in the late afternoon staring at the breasts of the female reporters who sat next to him as he edited their stories.

    When Tom Troncone took over the job of night editor, he at least knew routing questions to reporters through him was bullshit, and told the copy editors to call the reporters directly.

    Clancy also didn't want to be bothered about the lack of ergonomic computer furniture on the news copy desk, which was still using a rim set up for typewriters. In 2008, I sent him an e-mail about ergonomic furniture, but he refused to discuss it.

    Clancy once covered the Passaic County Courthouse as a reporter, and I succeeded him. I ran circles around him.

    At least he met his wife there (a court stenographer), and then years later their daughter showed up in the newsroom as an intern.

    The Record was just one big happy family.

  28. Tightfisted and anti-employee. Sounds like Stephen's kind of guy. Thanks.

  29. Gee, how about I say the Record is a good, hard-hitting, well edited, superbly managed paper. That wouldn't be slander. It would be a lie, though.

  30. I got another Anonymous comment from the commentator who defends editors for all they are doing "right."

    But he/she didn't actually list anything they are doing right, except to claim they supposedly have gotten far in their profession.

    He/she also alleges my error rate is far higher than The Record's -- more myth making.

    I'm wondering who this spitfire is.

    Bob Cunnigham, Tom Troncone et. al. where are you? Why don't you come out from behind that veil, as I have?

  31. The aforementioned critic now calls my criticism of editors and others "cyberbullying."

    Here is an excerpt from his latest comment:

    "Because what you do is wrong I am sure that the laws or the technology will catch up with you and in a short while you will be out of business."

  32. Paul Lapidus, is that you? Kevin O'Neil? Frank Burgos?

  33. Who cares who it is, Victor? Does it really matter?

  34. If you can't see why it matters, then your dense.

    You need to stand behind your wild claims, not hide behind an Anonymous tag.

  35. Who is lashing out at me?

    Rich Whitby, the tits-staring assignment editor?

    Dan Sforza, the clueless deputy to Deirdre Sykes?

    I guess the editors of The Record feel they are beyond reproach.


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