Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Copy desk saves another reporter's ass

Portrait of Henry Ford (ca. 1919)Image via Wikipedia

Lawyers for long-suffering Upper Ringwood residents settled a huge negligence lawsuit, fearing Ford Motor Co. would declare bankruptcy. Why didn't The Record ever report this legal and financial miscalculation? Above, Henry Ford in 1919.

Just when you thought the marginalized copy editors were asleep at their computers, they saved the ass of a veteran reporter who thought she could peddle the same old news in a Page 1 story today.

Staff Writer Mary Jo Layton covered a meeting of Upper Ringwood residents and EPA officials, but buried the lead -- just like the Ford Motor Co. buried toxic sludge in their neighborhood four decades ago and made everybody sick.

It almost sounds as if Layton pre-wrote the story to beat The Record's ridiculously early deadlines, then was forced to leave the real news to the continuation page. 

Did her assignment editor go home early? Where was Editor Francis Scandale?

But in a rare save, the news copy editors told the story in the headlines:

'We're the living dead'
EPA urges testing, but residents want buyouts

The copy editors not only saved Layton's ass, they saved the larger posterior of head Assignment Editor Deirdre Sykes.

I read to the continuation page, A-6, and found something new in this long-running saga of government incompetence, corporate irresponsibility and media indifference:

Residents want Ford to use some of its huge profits to buy their homes so they can relocate away from the pollution.

One of the newsroom prima donnas, Staff Writer Jean Rimbach, has a rare byline today, but why is her story on a lawsuit judgment on the front page?

Clear age bias

What was the wire editor thinking? 

Why run a Washington Post story on President Obama's 50th birthday (A-5) that is full of "old" references, and reports "he still gets up and down a basketball court without reaching for an oxygen tank"?

A letter to the editor on A-8 describes the Tea Party as no editor has the guts to:

"The Tea Party is a joke," says Francis A. Tutelo of Teaneck. "... They are Republicans who don't care about the elderly and poor. They keep voting again taxing millionaires .... But the truth is: Would Republicans really tax themselves and their friends?"

Tutelo could extend his description to Governor Christie.

What's my line?

On the front of Sykes' Local section, Road Warrior John Cichowski has yet another column on long lines at the MVC. It's time for him to join a line -- the one at the unemployment office.

Readers won't find any Hackesnack, Teaneck or Englewood news today.

Look at all those morons from "Jersey Shore" on the front of Better Living today. Why does the worst of New Jersey gets such prominent play in the paper?

Food Editor Susan Leigh Sherrill recommends another charred hunk of beef, even though meat grilled at high temperatures has been linked to cancer (F-1, F-2).

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  1. Stephen Borg has a hard on for the housewives of NJ for 201 magazine. After all, that's his demo.

  2. Yes, '201' is his pet project. He even once wrote headlines for some stories (and they were as dull as dishwater).

    I never saw the profile he said he was writing for 201 about his grandfather on his mother's side, Charles A. Agemian.

  3. Nice to see a kudo for the copy desk, but my guess is the rim got reamed for sensationalizing a story that was deliberately underplayed, as is the Record of Woodland Manor's wont.

  4. Good point.

    I think that after the "Toxic Legacy" series on Upper Ringwood failed to win a Pulitzer, The Record, Scandale and Sykes gave up on the community.

    When the inadequate settlement was announced, the editorial page told residents to take it and move on, and didn't question the lawyers fear Ford would go bankrupt.

    Ford was the only one of the Big Three that didn't take a bailout, and it is making billions every quarter.

    Ford also gave us the Crown Victoria Police Interceptor with the exploding gas tanks The Record has refused to look into.

    Look at the boilerplate explanation from Ford at the end of today's story. The Record has screwed the residents as royally as have Ford and the government.


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