Tuesday, August 9, 2011

When Christie barks, reporters scatter

Hudson river sailboatImage via Wikipedia
Commuters may take to boats to avoid huge Hudson River toll increases.

Have you noticed how many times Governor Christie, agencies like the Port Authority and other news sources refuse to comment on important public issues beyond their press releases and press conferences?

And have you noticed how many times reporters for The Record of Woodland Park obediently quote those refusals and make no attempt to get the information another way -- how they close their notebooks with a sigh and call it a day?

Jeez, is this the first time the Port Authority has proposed a huge toll increase as a bargaining chip and was willing to settle for less?

In Page 1 stories on Saturday, Sunday and today, The Record's reporters and copy editors seem to be stumbling in the dark.

Saturday's two-deck banger headline said the bi-state agency's plan "could double Hudson River tolls," but a chart just about the headline showed some tolls would nearly triple by 2014.

Poker faces

On Sunday, a Port Authority spokesman refused to comment on the possibility the agency would settle for a smaller toll increase, as it did in 2001, or a smaller PATH fare hike, as it did in 2008 (A-4).

Today, in the off-lead story on A-1, , a Christie spokesman declined to comment on the paper's report the new plan had been discussed with the Christie and Cuomo administrations or that the proposed increases "changed several times during the talks."

U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., was upset by the agency's proposals -- in contrast to Christie's response at a Monday press conference: "You're kidding, right?"

Menendez also said it's not credible that Christie and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo were "blindsided."

Also from Menendez today is a powerful OpEd column on Page A-9, slamming the Tea Party for protecting special interests, who receive nearly $27 billion in "unwarranted" oil and ethanol subsidies.

Horse manure

Editor Francis Scandale may be grappling with unfocused Page 1 stories and emasculated reporters, but head Assignment Editor Deirdre Sykes and her minions continue to scramble for filler in the Local section.

An update on the Rotary Club's Gift of Life program to treat children with heart disease and its 770th patient (L-1) will appear again when its 820th patient is registered and a third time to herald its 850th patient, and so on and so forth.

Staff Writer Andrea Alexander reports the Teaneck school district still is interested in an $85,000 donation from Cross River Bank, but not whether the bank's officers send their kids to private schools and would refuse to contribute to public education (L-1).

More filler on the future of the state's horse-racing industry appears on L-3 -- once a premier page for local news.

From the laziest assignment desk in the tri-state area, that's all she wrote.

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