Friday, August 26, 2011

Prima donna peddles old news

Hurricane Irene (NASA, International Space Sta...Image by NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center via Flickr
Hurricane Irene as seen from the International Space Station on
Wednesday. In 1999, another Hurricane Irene hit Florida hard.

As they make preparations for Hurricane Irene, readers looking for something else on  Page 1 of The Record today are blessed by the rare appearance of a story by the first lady of the newsroom.

Staff Writer Jean "Prima Donna" Rimbach -- part of a sisterhood blessed by newsroom Queen Deirdre Sykes -- tries to advance the nearly seven-month-old decision by Prosecutor John Molinelli against buying a $1.3 million surveillance plane with money confiscated from criminals.

Sykes allows Rimbach to work on stories for weeks, months or years, and publishes the results, even if they are flawed. In this case, the reporter invoked the Open Public Records Act to obtain a letter to Molinelli. 

But does anybody care that the state attorney general recommended against purchase of the plane, citing the tight economy? Is this really front-page news? Is this the best Editor Francis Scandale could come up with?

Hurricane head

I want to fault Editor Liz Houlton's news copy desk for using the word "brace" or "braces" in an A-1 headline for the millionth time, but at least the Keystone Kopy Editors avoided: "Irene is coming!"

Three embarrassing corrections appear on Page A-2 today.

Editorial Page Editor Alfred P. Doblin ignores the value of a nutritious, healthy breakfast for children of all incomes in blasting free school meals in Detroit and other parts of the country (A-21).

Gee, Doblin, why didn't you mention that Governor Christie went the other way, cutting school-breakfast programs for low-income children? Is that what you favor?

Parking for lovers

Readers can count on Road Warrior John Cichowski to uncover the obscure -- subjects appealing to a handful of readers -- such as a single parking lot in Fort Lee that takes cellphone payments (L-1).

Cichowski recommends this lot to drivers who don't want to "hastily" leave "a meeting, assignment or tryst to beat a meter maid's tickets." 

Is this the first time he's appealed to lovers who arrange trysts -- secret meetings? 

His column is of so little interest to the vast majority of readers, Cichowski has to hype its importance to create something from nothing:

The payment system works "even if you're far away knee-deep in joy or stress." It's great to have such a system in "the pressure-cooker work environment surrounding the George Washington Bridge."

Where the f--- is the man's assignment editor, who should be curbing this kind of editorial excess?

Local yokels

Elsewhere on L-1, Staff Writer Stephanie Akin has a rare story about ethnic tensions in Palisades Park, one of the towns that get little coverage from Sykes, who presides over the laziest assignment desk in North America, Central America and the Caribbean, South America, Antarctica and Africa.

There is no Hackensack news in Local today, but Staff Writer Monsy Alvarado had three stories on Thursday, including one on a city health program for seniors.

Unfortunately, the other two were filler -- state aid to schools and a federal grant to the Police Department.

From hunger

This week's restaurant review comes up short on a number of levels.

Staff Writer Elisa Ung appraises The Kitchen, an Englewood restaurant that tries to recreate American comfort food of the 1930s.

But in a region as diverse as North Jersey, the headline -- "A taste of home" -- rings hollow.

Ung continues to ignore whether the poultry and meat she samples are naturally raised or whether the salmon is wild-caught. Do readers have to call the restaurant?

And her reporting and writing continue to grate: 

"The same green-lined plates that are probably in millions of American households." Probably not anymore.

"Two entrees sang proudly." From the George Gershwin songbook, no doubt.

"Those old cocktail parties of yore."  Good, old Yore. Nice to see you again.

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  1. Hey everybody, smile! When your photo is taken during your storm damage--it will surely be part (without your permission) of the Record's next book in its "Agony" series (following the bestseller, "Floods of NJ"). No commitment to how much of the profits goes to charity. Could be 1%. Profit, not sales.

    New NJMG slogan: "Company Loves Misery"

  2. "Company Loves Misery" is excellent. Thanks.

  3. You'd have to be pretty darn lazy to outlazy the assignment desk in Antarctica. For instance, all of the editors are polar bears at the Brrrrecord of Antarctica, and they hibernate for six months of the year. Do you think the Record of Woodland Flats can beat that?

  4. They've been known to, and some of them look like polar bears.

  5. Now anonymous No. 1, don't go knocking NJMG's Compassion fund. It's helped some people over the years, and I'm sure if they put out a book about the hurricane, the proceeds would go to the fund.

  6. @Aaron Elson: no doubt some people were helped.

    But "proceeds going to the fund" is different than "all sales will go to help victims."


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