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|The Record's assignment desk is the laziest east of the Appalachian Mountains.|
"Hey, Kibret, where are you going, Lincoln Park?" head Assignment Editor Deirdre Sykes said over the phone to Kibret Markos, The Record's reporter at state Superior Court in Hackensack.
"No. Palisades Park," the reporter said. "A Korean kid is going on trial for punching another kid in the school cafeteria."
"Oh, that's where all those Koreans live," the editor said. "Have you ever tried any of their spicy food? It's just awful. I just choke on all that red pepper.
"Anyway, is that town in our circulation area? Do we even cover Palisades Park?"
No. The Woodland Park daily doesn't really cover Pal Park, and if you search northjersey.com, you'll come up with scattered stories and others with the word "park" or "Park" in them that have nothing to do with the Bergen town.
It's curious that Markos' detailed Page 1 stories Thursday and today don't tell readers whether the boy Dong Sung An was accused of punching is also Korean or from another ethnic group.
The reporter claims "the case renewed debate" over police charging students, rather than allowing schools to handle the discipline.
But if the other student is not Korean, it could very well be another example of town officials treating An and other Koreans differently.
The growth of the Korean community in Palisades Park has long been marked by conflict. Town officials once ordered 24-hour Korean restaurants to close, but allowed a diner near police headquarters to stay open around the clock.
I haven't seen anything in the paper about the recent downturn in the fortunes of Broad Avenue, which is dominated by Korean-owned businesses.
It's one reason the assignment desk has earned a reputation of being the laziest operation east of the Appalachian Mountains.
Liz Houlton's news copy desk did another lousy job with the headlines today, especially with the sub-headline: "Student avoids harsh sentence in cafeteria fight."
The judge declined to put An on probation or order him to perform community service. Neither are "harsh" and neither could even be considered a "sentence."
Does anybody outside Editor Francis Scandale and Staff Writer John Brennan care that imprisoned killer Jayson Williams is going from one prison to another (A-1)? Is this really front-page news?
The story says Williams has lost weight, but not whether he's become someone's prison bitch -- just as Scandale has become Brennan's newsroom bitch.
Brennan continues to handle the story like a public relations man trying to repair the failed athlete's image -- carefully omitting Williams killed a limo driver after a night of drinking.
Toll on readers
Staff Writer Shawn Boburg continues to publish justification for the Port Authority's outrageous toll-and-fare hike plan (A-3), but hasn't followed up on Governor Christie's claim the agency is mismanaged.
Two other views of the toll-and-fare proposal are on A-20 -- where cartoonist Margulies says Christie did a great job acting surprised -- and on the front of Local -- where Road Warrior John Cichowski blows off commuters by noting they're "probably plenty worried about forking over a few more bucks."
The columnist clearly isn't worried -- he never leaves the office to cover news or do reporting for his columns, but merely pores over reports, surveys, statistics and data, as he does for today's piece.
Another story on the front of Sykes' Local section -- on flooding at the North Bergen headquarters of The Vitamin Shoppe -- reminds me of all the flooding at The Record's old headquarters in Hackensack, and how the company never did anything about it (L-1).