Monday, July 11, 2011

Where money is the root of all news

Money-USD-and-Euro_123008-480x360Image by Public Domain Photos via Flickr

"Follow the money."

That was the advice for two intrepid reporters trying to unravel the Watergate conspiracy way back when, and it soon became the first rule of investigative journalism.

But what gives with The Record's front page? Does Editor Francis Scandale and his minions save up stories so they can publish themed editions?

Today's theme is our broken budget and debt systems in New Jersey and the nation, and the politics they are mired in.

Too much politics

Readers' eyes are glazing over. They are sick and tired of reading about politics, but it seems to be the only way Scandale and his Trenton and Washington writers know how to tell a story.

Why doesn't The Record and other media recommend an independent panel on reducing the federal government's long-term deficit?

Why not report on how Governor Christie and Republicans in other states are behind an unprecedented shift of wealth to their rich supporters, while squeezing seniors and middle- and working-class families for all they've got?

Why not ask Republican leaders in Washington to document their oft-repeated, sound-bite claim that tax cuts for the wealthy create jobs or that closing tax loopholes will be a "job killer"?

Missing gonads

Where are your balls, Scandale and Editorial Page Editor Alfred P. Doblin? What does "P" stand for, putz? Are you taking your cues from your greedy publisher, Stephen A. Borg? 

Most of A-1 is taken up with another tale of malfeasance by members of an independent authority, this time lavish travel spending by the Bergen County agency that treats everybody's crap.

Does the story say why County Executive Kathleen Donovan can't do something to stop this or why she doesn't sue these bozos to recoup some of the $170,000 they blew over six years?

Haves and have-nots

As if the front-page stories aren't enough, a blurb on A-1 refers to the Local front and a story on Englewood's fiscal mess.

Mayor Frank Huttle III created a Commission on Budget and Finance, but why did he appoint members who are hedge-fund managers and insurance executives -- didn't they bring the nation's economy to the brink of disaster a few years ago?

Englewood's  haves and have-nots live on opposite sides of the tracks. It has hundreds of mansions on the East Hill, a small industrial section and new residential developments along Route 4.

Millions in debt

But the city has rolled up $55 million in debt, its downtown is struggling and its elementary and middles schools are segregated.

Maybe Chairman Malcolm A. "Mac" Borg and other wealthy residents, as well as the owners of commercial and industrial property, aren't being taxed enough.

Although Teaneck and Hackensack don't have the same extremes of wealth and poverty, they are similar demographically. Why are their finances in better shape?

I guess we can't expect the editors to connect the dots for readers.

Hey, head Assignment Editor Deirdre Sykes, thanks for another great section.

Belated nod

Travel Editor Jill Schensul is at her best when she isn't taking free trips and writing lavishly promotional stories for cruise lines and private-jet tours.

Witness her charming Travel section cover story and photos on Sunday about hidden treasures of the Garden State.

Now, if she just got rid of the idiotic photos of readers holding up the section on their trips, she'd have more room for such stories. As it is, she seems to be writing for an audience that is overwhelmingly white.

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  1. From the Anonymous peanut gallery:

    "There's an idea. The Record will propose to government that an independent commission be appointed that will solve the deficit crisis. This is stupid because: a) a bi-partisan Presidential commission provided such a report last December, roundly applauded in academic circles, which was promptly ignored, and b) as anyone interested public affairs knows, neither side would ever elevate an outside opinion, sight unseen, in advance of a general election."

  2. Then the commission's findings should be put to a vote in the House and the Senate, and let's be done with all this partisanship bullshit.

    Anyone who thinks these meetings are shedding any light on the the way we handle debt is delusional.


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