Friday, September 30, 2011

Where quality control is out of control

The United States White HouseImage via Wikipedia
Many Americans can't get over a black man living in the White House.

After two days of intense front-page coverage on Governor Christie's White House ambitions, Editor Francis Scandale isn't taking seriously the strongest indications so far Christie may, in fact, launch a campaign for the GOP presidential nomination.

Scandale must have succumbed to a severe bout of jock itch to think readers of The Record are more interested in Yankees playoff games than in the Christie story, which he pushed back to Page A-3 today.

Anyway, North Jersey residents are concerned about bear -- not Tiger -- hunting.

This is some lousy front page, and Liz Houlton's news copy desk can't even dress up the off-lead dud on the federal debt hanging over the state after Christie killed the Hudson River rail-tunnel project, leaving Manhattan-bound commuters standing in the aisles.

N.J. still
bills for

Putting the word "still" in the main headline is an instant turn off for readers, as if the copy editor can't hide his boredom with a story that basically is an update of old news. 

Of course, the news that should have been in the main headline is left to the drop headline -- the debt has grown to "nearly $274 million."

Day after day, Houlton's copy desk treats Page 1 and other section fronts with as little care as the back of the book.

Water boarding

The Paterson flood-overtime story, which had a long run on Scandale's front page, ends up on an obituary page today, but Editorial Page Editor Alfred P. Doblin's column unleashes all the piss and vinegar he can muster at Mayor Jeffrey Jones (A-23).

As North Jersey scandals go, $50,861 in overtime is chump change, but Doblin is not about to let on as he pulls out all the stops of his cutesy writing style to demonize Jones.

Look at the headline's ridiculous attempt to coin a word to describe the overtime controversy: "Otscam."

What a joke. Otscam? How lame. This has nothing to do with the much bigger FBI sting known as Abscam, so why invoke it here? It merely shows Doblin's desperation to both hook and hoodwink readers.

One of the milder criticisms: "Jones gets high marks for golfing; for being mayor, not so much." 

Isn't that what many observers say about Doblin's golf-loving boss, Scandale? 

Or how about this? Doblin gets high marks for output; for being a journalist, not so much.

Insulting readers

You could forgive Road Warrior Columnist John Cichowski for boring readers to tears, if he at least passed along useful information in his endlessly repetitive columns.

On L-1 today, he tells us charter buses are inspected for safety violations, as are school buses, but he utters not a word about inspections of thousands of NJ Transit commuter buses on Manhattan and local routes. Unbelievable.

Head Assignment Editor Deirdre Sykes' Local section is dominated by news of Thursday's heavy storm in Leonia and nearby towns, complete with three photos of downed trees (A-1, L-1 and L-6).

Cops grab headlines

Have you noticed all the news about the police lately?

The promotion of Oradell Police Sgt. Frank Florio to chief is on the front of Local today. Below that, another story reports Lodi Police Chief Vincent Caruso ordered an officer to issue a ticket to the chief's wife for double parking.

On Thursday's L-2, Staff Writer Deena Yellin broke significant news -- council approval for the hiring of one police officer.

Also on that page, Staff Writer Denisa R. Superville reported a domestic-violence investigation of River Edge Police Chief Thomas Cariddi.

On Wednesday's L-3, an 8-inch story reported the hiring of an officer in Wood-Ridge, and a 4-inch story described how Cariddi, the River Edge chief, had been on a leave of absence since "last week."

On Tuesday's L-2, Yellin had more earth-shaking news -- Demarest Police Chief James Powderly is being honored for "his crime-fighting efforts."

Superville, the reporter, used her leave of absence story on Wednesday as a launching pad for assembling her story the following day on the domestic-violence probe. That's good journalism.

But is it really news when police chiefs do their jobs or is that Sykes' assignment desk desperately trying to fill the news hole in the absence of anything more legitimate?

Shit-kicking reporter

In Better Living today, the biggest photo with the restaurant review shows a bull prancing through pasture, a seemingly appropriate mural for Wayne Steakhouse in Wayne.

But when you finish reading Staff Writer Elisa Ung's lukewarm, 2-star appraisal, you learn absolutely nothing about how the expensive beef is raised (Centerfold).

You have no clue whether it was grass-fed, as the mural suggests, or confined to pens in feedlots, fed grain and animal by-products, and pumped full of harmful additives, such as antibiotics and growth hormones.

Ung reports Wayne Steakhouse's high prices (steak for two is $81.95), but passes along the owner's explanation that customers can save money by bringing their own wine.

So, the owner saved hundreds of thousands of dollars by not buying a liquor license. Instead of passing along the savings to customers, he kept his food prices high, reasoning that at least he doesn't soak them with $10 glasses of wine or $300 bottles. How noble.

In the review, there is little quality control in matching text and photo. 

Ung reports clams casino were "impressive, topped with huge slices of bacon." But no bacon slices appear in the photo. Perhaps, after her visit, the owner started cutting back to boost his profit on the dish.

The only menu item the dessert-obsessed reviewer found "mind blowing" was the house-made whipped cream served on apple strudel -- one of four desserts she tried. She sampled no salads or vegetables outside of creamed spinach.

I guess readers can conclude the bull mural is a tongue-in-cheek reference to all the bullshit hurled their way by Ung and the restaurant owner.

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Thursday, September 29, 2011

New Jersey's worst governor -- ever

whitehouseactowelImage by Chimpanze Rage via Flickr
Frank Sinatra was a "Jersey guy." What about Governor Christie?

You have to be rich, conservative and out of touch with what has happened in New Jersey to beg Governor Christie to run for the White House.

Garden State residents, especially the working and middles classes, are all too familiar with the GOP bully, the worst governor we've had since I moved here in the early 1970s. 

And, on the Page 1 today, The Record contrasts what he's failed to do -- on taxes, jobs, politics and ethics -- with the success "stories" he spun on Tuesday to woo wealthy conservatives in California.

It's sad to see The Record's Julie Fletcher and other reporters adopting Christie's description of his bluster as "Jersey style" or referring to his "Jersey guy act," because many outsiders think of his mean-spirited policies in the same terms.

Is attacking union benefits "Jersey style"? Does a "Jersey guy" cut school-nutrition programs for low-income children or health programs for low-income women? What about rubber-stamping huge Hudson River toll and fare hikes, or refusing to tax millionaires?

How about removing the only black justice on the state Supreme Court and replacing him with a white lawyer who represented drug companies? Is that "Jersey style"?

Talk about corrupt

Even New Jersey's famously corrupt politicians have more heart and soul than Christie, who in less than two years in office has cemented his reputation as the state's worst governor.

First, The Record broke the story about Irene-related overtime for Paterson officials. Then, the paper blew it by under-counting the number of officials with their hands out. 

Now, it's determined to keep something, anything on the front page, and Editorial Page Editor Alfred P. Doblin is piling on with an editorial today (A-1 and A-12).

Chiefs hold us up

Every North Jersey police chief making more than $200,000 a year is a bigger scandal than overtime in Paterson, but those bloated salaries and benefits have long been ignored by Christie and his pals, Doblin and head Assignment Editor Deirdre Sykes.

Editor Francis Scandale must have been scrambling for New Jersey news, if he had to plug a gaping hole on A-1 today with a story on seats for Yankees playoff games. 

I might tune in and look for Scandale and Staff Writer John Brennan, guzzling beer and stuffing themselves with mystery meat, preservative-filled hot dogs.

More sloppy editing

I can't keep up with all of the sloppy editing by Liz Houlton's news copy desk.

I'm no fan of Fletcher, the reporter who produced a terrible lead paragraph about Christie on Wednesday's front page. Today, she begins her A-1 story with, "Facing greater national scrutiny by national conservatives ...."

Where are the editors? We certainly don't need the word "national" repeated twice. The rest of her lead makes about as much sense as the one on Wednesday.

Every reporter, no matter how long in the business, needs editing. At The Record, readers are burdened day after day with bad, fuzzy and long-winded writing, because the editors don't do their jobs. 

Scandale ordered the photo of Christie -- standing behind the Reagan Presidential Library seal and flanked by American flags -- blown up to take up almost all of the top half of A-1 on Wednesday. 

What would the editor do, if Christie threw his hat in the ring, clear the entire front page?

Error after error

On A-3 today, a photo caption must have been taken right from the Web. "State police are reporting a dozen road closures ...."

On the front of Local, the time element, "Tuesday night," appears twice in the same sentence in the Political Stile column by Charles Stile (third paragraph).

Above the column, the photo caption for a court hearing story says, "To Richard Sellitto's right is his lawyer, Mike Mitzner."

But the lawyer in on the suspect's left. 

Mouse Kelly

On L-3, Columnist Mike Kelley says Paterson Mayor Jeffrey Jones must have a tiny inner alarm that warns him "when he is about to do something really dumb."

Bewildered readers have been saying that for years about Kelly, Road Warrior Columnist John Cichowski and Columnist Bill Ervolino.

On L-6, a story on the death of a 53-year-old Englewood man and his 3-year-old son adds absolutely nothing to the initial report on Tuesday. 

A deputy police chief is refusing to release the cause of the father's death, and that's OK with Sykes' assignment desk. It's content with waiting for the press release.

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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Journalism waters are getting murkier

Death certificate for Michael Jackson, release...Image via Wikipedia
Michael Jackson's July 2009 death certificate.

Who is more disappointed in Governor Christie's continued denial of White House ambitions?

Is it the fat-cat donors he addressed at the Reagan Library on Tuesday or Editor Francis Scandale, who pulls out all the stops on Page 1 of The Record today to make the GOP bully look presidential?

Candidate in looks only 

That Christie headline reminds me of this: "Newspaper in looks only." 

One example is the A-1 caption under the flag-waving Christie photo, noting he spoke to "supporters that want him to run for president," rather than the grammatical "supporters who want him to run ...." 

Big Christie fan

You can't tell whether the reporter, Juliet Fletcher of the State House Bureau (a former Trenton reporter for The Press of Atlantic City), works for a newspaper or the Christie administration. Here's her lead paragraph:

"Governor Christie, himself the center of a fever pitch of presidential hype, delivered his version of American leadership Tuesday before a well-heeled conservative crowd at the home of one of the most powerful Republican symbols."

Boy, that's a lot to digest -- "fever pitch," "leadership" and "powerful" all in one graph. 

What does she mean by the awkward "delivered his version of American leadership"? And the Reagan Library is referred to as a "home."

Isn't the "fever pitch of presidential hype" manufactured by The Record and other media?

At the end of her second graph, she writes: "His out-of-state fund-raising tour this week helped push the Christie-for-president rumors to their greatest heights so far."

How high would that be? As high as 1 Garret Mountain Plaza in Woodland Park? As high as the new World Trade Center, being built with some of the toll hikes the governor approved recently?

In a video on, Christie becomes the latest Republican to blame President Obama for the "class warfare" the GOP has been waging on unions and the middle class in a concerted effort to preserve low tax rates for the rich.

Water everywhere

The A-1 off-lead today is a story reporting three more salaried Paterson officials -- for a total of seven -- got overtime checks after Irene's floods.

Editor Deirdre Sykes' assignment desk has been reporting these revelations in dribs and drabs, like a difficult bowel movement. Is that deliberate -- in an effort to keep the story on Page 1 -- or is the desk just lazy and incompetent?

The lead paragraph notes "the political water surrounding Mayor Jeffrey Jones got rougher Tuesday night ...."

Flood waters and "political water." That's the height of Woodland Park journalism today. Shouldn't it be "waters"? Why not try "political urine" while you're at it? That would be a real pisser.

Black men are bad

I guess it's just coincidence today's front page features at least three black men who are in trouble -- Mayor Jones of Paterson; George Wright, a convicted killer from New Jersey captured in Portugal; and Dr. Conrad Murphy, on trial in Michael Jackson's death -- under a large photo of Christie as the Great White Hope. LOL.

Scandale's clumsy manipulation of the news is so apparent, it's an insult to readers. Again today, the paper is black, white and red all over.

On A-3 today, a story reports AAA is suing "to stop recent toll hikes on Hudson River crossings." How do you "stop" toll hikes that went into effect 10 days ago?

Unsuitable headline

A story on a lawsuit filed by 587 employees against Nextel is called "Nextel suit" in the headline on A-6 today -- about as wrong as Liz Houlton's news copy desk can get it.

There is so little local news in Sykes' Local section today, a business seminar on the 2014 Meadowlands Super Bowl was needed to plug a hole on the front (L-1).

Too lazy to report on commuting problems, Road Warrior John Cichowski writes his umpteenth L-1 column on tailgaters. 

Cichowski's major flaw as a reporter is looking to readers for column ideas, instead of doing basic legwork and trusting his instincts as a journalist.

Instead of Hackensack news, city residents are given a full-blown story on another routine motion in the criminal case against suspended Police Chief Ken Zisa.

Second look

One of Sykes' assignment minions apparently has barred transportation reporter Karen Rouse from reporting complaints from commuters about having to stand on rush-hour buses and trains into the city or being forced to ride decrepit local buses that are 30 years old.

On Tuesday, Rouse did report on a complaint from a bus rider, but only because his foot was run over by a bus and he lost several toes (L-3).

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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Rebooting, rehashing and remixing Page 1

The Ronald Reagan Presidential LibraryImage via Wikipedia
Governor Christie was scheduled to speak today at the Reagan Library.

Do you read to fall asleep? Grab the front page of The Record today.

The only fresh, new element Editor Francis Scandale could come up with is the weather photo package at the top of the page. The other three elements are rehashes, remixes and reboots.

The lead story on overtime paid to Paterson Mayor Jeffrey Jones and three salaried aides is a follow, and reports on a development from Friday -- four days ago. Yawn.

Next, bears are out gorging for hibernation -- just like last year, the year before, the year before that and ... I'm getting sleepy.

Finally, a package at the bottom of A-1 reports more presidential rumors as Governor Christie girds his loins for a speech at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library.

Now, is there some subliminal message in the bear and Christie photos? The black bear and the governor look to be about the same size, and both their heads are turned a little to the left.

What Christie does best

On A-3, a story reports Christie pulled a $420,000 tax credit from "Jersey Shore," but I doubt he's going to distribute that money to readers like Edwin Kinderman, a Fair Lawn man who wrote a letter to the editor today (A-12).

Kinderman is 71 and cares 24/7 for his severely disabled wife, who has been hospitalized 23 times in the past three years. Alas, Christie cut her Homestead rebate for renters -- $1,800 -- "money that we greatly need to pay medical bills and other living expenses."

Kinderman admits, "We are at the lowest spectrum of our society and have no political clout."

Hasn't Christie done so many wonderful things since he took office, and saved taxpayers so much money, like Kinderman's $1,800? 

And wouldn't Christie make a perfect Republican presidential candidate -- his mouth crimson from chewing up and spitting out people like Kinderman's wife, so the rich in New Jersey don't have to pay higher taxes?

Doblin or douche bag?

Another letter today blasts a column from Editorial Page Editor Alfred P. Doblin, who has such a cute writing style, full of plays on words and references to Hollywood and Broadway (A-12).

The reader, Dan Ludwig of Pompton Lakes, wonders what might have inspired Doblin's thinly veiled "racist attack" on poet Amiri Baraka. 

Doblin "uses a toilet metaphor for the series of events that led to the ouster of Baraka as the poet laureate of New Jersey and directly compares that man to 'something you want to flush away.'"

Sleeping editors

The lead story on the front of head Assignment Editor Deirdre Sykes' Local section reports a 53-year-old Englewood man and his 3-year-old son were  found dead.

Police speculate the father had a heart attack and fell on his son, who was on a bed.

The reporter's assignment editor sent the story on to the news copy desk without finding out whether the father had a history of heart disease or any other information about the health of a man in his early Fifties.

Sykes had so little other local news, layout editors were forced to fill space by running two big photos and a map with a story on a "controversial" highway ramp redesign in sleepy Washington Township (L-1 and L-6).

Monday, September 26, 2011

Flooded, lied to and then abandoned

Flood of June 2006Image by marnanel via Flickr
All flooding looks the same,as this 2006 photo shows.

Given the frequency of flooding in North Jersey, the editors of The Record are always ready with their three-prong coverage, as today's front page shows.

First, Editors Francis Scandale and Deirdre Sykes dispatch reporters and photographers to chronicle impassable streets, boat rescues and piles of furniture and personal belongings suddenly turned into trash.

Then, Governor Christie and other public officials gather at the scene of the disaster to shed crocodile tears and promise swift delivery of financial aid.

Finally, groups of fed-up flood victims threaten civil disobedience if government won't pay for long-term solutions -- that's the group of residents in the Page 1 photo today.

Royal screwing

But these poor people don't realize they have been royally screwed -- by fiscal conservatives who claim long-term fixes "cost too much," and by Editorial Page Editor Alfred P. Doblin and others who back that position year after year.

The only thing for certain is next month's or next year's flood. On L-1, a related story reports some towns are waiving permit fees, so residents can repair their flood-damaged homes in time for them to be ruined again.

The off-lead A-1 story today is about politics tying up autism-research funds. Funds for Alzeimer's disease were approved. OK. I'm kidding. Scandale and Sykes care as little about old people as they do about flood victims.

God forbid, you were a reporter or copy editor on their newsroom shit lists before I left The Record in May 2008.

Jews play with fire

The third major story on A-1 today is about fire safety in Orthodox Jewish homes. Even with Rosh Hashana coming up, this is such a narrow subject, it should be on the Local front, not the front page.

An A-1 item refers readers to an A-4 story on those hikers blasting Iran. Really, who gives a shit? Next time, try the Adirondacks.

If you live in Hackensack or many other towns, you won't find any news in Sykes' Local section today.

See previous post on year's dumbest headline

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Dumbest headline of the year

Tropical Storm IreneImage by NASA Goddard Photo and Video via Flickr
Don't blame Irene for tax hikes. Taxes are going up anyway.

We've still got a few more months before the end of 2011, but Editor Liz Houlton's news copy desk has already written the dumbest headline of the year.

Tax hikes likely

This headline appeared on Page 1 of The Record on the Sunday before last -- over a report exploring the financial impact of Hurricane Irene.

Anyone who has lived in North Jersey for a few years knows property taxes always go up, not down, so tax hikes are always likely, despite the campaign pledges of such politicians as Governor Christie.

As a headline, "Tax hikes likely" should be banned, at least until the first time some genius actually cuts them.

Holes in their heads

That same. Sept. 18 paper wastes the front of the Business section and a half-page inside on the rise and fall of H&H Bagels -- the puniest, most-expensive bagel ever produced in the metropolitan area, one that was clearly inferior to bagels offered by several North Jersey shops.

On B-1, the copy desk couldn't even get the bagel jump correct, referring readers to B-6 instead of B-7.

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Sunday, September 25, 2011

Christie keeps the bullshit flowing

Downtown Los Angeles as seen from my American ...Image via Wikipedia
On a trip to L.A., above, reporter Scott Fallon discovers Santa Monica.

What do the environmentalists say?

The Christie administration is refusing to repair outdated sewer systems that pump 23 billion gallons of raw sewage into the water each year, despite pressure from the federal government.

This looks bad for Governor Christie's environmental record, Editor Francis Scandale of The Record reasons, so what can I do to minimize the damage?

The plan: "I'll push it down to the bottom of Page 1 in the Sunday paper, and see if most of the worst stuff about the state's defiance doesn't appear until the continuation page. No photos with shit flowing into water, please."  Check.

"What about that story we had in cold storage on hoaxes perpetuated against the Coast Guard? Hype that with photos, scary headlines, and make it the A-1 patch." Check.

Where's Brennan?

"What story was John [Brennan] promoting like a broken record? More meat-beating over the future of online gambling? We're stuck. Make it the lead, so we can take a hit for the Big Guy." Check.

So, there you have the likely scenario for today's front page -- the only story of wide public interest playing second fiddle to two yawners. What a dull paper, what a dull editor.

On the jump page of the sewage story, a staff attorney for the nonprofit NY/NJ Baykeeper says New Jersey has the worst program in the nation to deal with the problem (A-8).

"It's laughable," said Christopher Len, who could be talking about Scandale, too.

Head games

Just think of the opportunity Scandale squandered to run the sewage story across the top of Page 1, with a suitably alarming headline in big, black, bold type:

State defends shit flows
Sewage threatens Bogota
No shit, Christie, it stinks!
S. Hackensack breaks off into 3 parts
Christie: Go with the flow
Christie plans to float into White House
Christie: No one can say GOP smells
Tonight's special: Bass in brown sauce
Borgs debut (201) shitpaper
Christie: Not shit, just pure bull
Christie sewage pipe needs widening
Stampede for Costco toilet paper

Your submissions are welcome.

Where's Rimbach?

Head Assignment Editor Deirdre Sykes couldn't find enough local news for her Sunday section, so she relies on star reporter Jean Rimbach's take on a tattoo convention and the 65th Road Warrior column on the MVC (both L-1), and the Dean's List (L-2).

For his next Road Warrior column, John Cichowski is going to list roadside fast-food restaurants where drivers can induce mild diarrhea, so they can cut the lines at the MVC.

In Better Living, Restaurant Reviewer Elisa Ung's Sunday column, The Corner Table, profiles Unilever's corporate chef (F-1). Interesting, but what does that have to do with restaurants? 

For a Travel cover story on Washington, D.C., in July, Staff Writer Scott Fallon poached on The New York Times' 36-hour format. Today, he describes "2 days" in or near Los Angeles -- a welcome change (T-1).

He says he was traveling with his wife, but the caption on T-1 provides no clue as to the identity of the woman in Fallon's photo.

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Saturday, September 24, 2011

Kicking Paterson when it's down

ny_from_wmImage via Wikipedia
On a clear day, Manhattan is visible from West Milford.

It's usually Editor Francis Scandale who kicks Paterson when it's down, but now the impoverished city's own mayor and three aides are getting into the act, prompting The Record to run more front-page coverage and an editorial today.

According to the A-1 story squeezed under a one-column headline, Mayor Jeffrey Jones and his three top administrators will return more than $20,000 in overtime pay they received after Hurricane Irene hit the Silk City. 

On Friday, the payment of overtime was Page 1 news in the Woodland Park daily. Today, as incredible as it may seem, the mayor left open the possibility he might in the end deserve overtime.

Moral outrage

In the past decade, Scandale has done a great deal to shape Paterson's image in the eyes of his largely suburban readership, claiming in two major series that drug dealing and prostitution were corrupting North Jersey residents. 

In both cases, the overwhelmingly negative stories were published without any balancing material on Paterson's rich and storied history:

How the Great Falls drove it to become America's first industrial city; the architectural riches of its Eastside mansion district or its bustling Middle Eastern and Turkish bazaar in South Paterson.

Paterson isn't just a city that has been "battling crimes, drugs and poverty for decades," as today's editorial says. Here is a link to the history of Lambert Castle, built by the most successful silk baron:

The Story of Catholina Lambert's Castle 

But that sort of thing bores the simple-minded Scandale, who often fails miserably in his responsibility to readers. 

And I don't know if the editor paid overtime to his reporters and photographers, but the series was so detailed that one day, a user-friendly map was published showing the street corners where drug dealers operated.

Getting it wrong

The paper has been covering the Tyler Clementi story for more than a year, but still struggles to get its facts straight, as noted in an A-2 correction today.

The editorial on A-11 treats the Paterson mayor and his aides harshly, but stops short of calling for their resignations. I can't find anything in the coverage on what Jones has done since he was elected.

Nor is there any mention today of how state aid to the city is tied up by political squabbling in Trenton. 

And while Scandale has exposed all of the city's flaws, he's directed no coverage of unscrupulous landlords, redlining banks and the other forces that keep down the predominantly minority residents.

Police news out front

The major news on Page 1 and on the Local front today basically are police stories -- a 15-year-old boy hit by a school bus in foggy West Milford and a manhole blast in downtown Ridgewood -- complete with photographs.

The latter story reports no one was injured, but quotes the police chief as saying the underground explosion had "enough force to rip up the manhole cover partially and leave it ajar."

The L-1 photo caption reports "severe power outages," but the reporter calls them "sporadic."

The Ridgewood story really is a waste of space, but a desk laboring under head Assignment Editor Deirdre Sykes couldn't come up with anything more legitimate from the 90 or so towns in the circulation area.

Borgs gulp

Congratulations to Staff Writer Andrew Tangel for getting the phrase "class conflict" into his lead paragraph on the firing of unionized office cleaners in Teaneck -- without quote marks (A-10).

That must be a first on the Business page of The Record, whose owners have fought tooth and nail to keep unions out and to preserve their right to fire workers with 20 to 30 years or more of service.

What the F?

I must be really out of it not to realize that every high school football team represents not the town or the county, but the entire Garden State, and that unbeknownst to me, teams compete every week in a statewide Olympics of High School Football.

At least, that's what I took from Scandale's lame Page 1 photo package last Saturday under the headline:

Jersey wins 1, loses 1

Below the headline, photos show a single play during a winning game and a losing game. 

Maybe the small-minded, sports-obsessed Scandale means football "jersey." Or, maybe he finds the cheerleaders too distracting.

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Friday, September 23, 2011

Exposing Christie's half-truths

main street of Fort Lee in NJImage via Wikipedia
The Record reported Khloe Bistrot in Fort Lee, above,  serves organic meat and
 fish. In this week's review of Savini in Allendale, readers are left in the dark.

Governor Christie has been speaking in half-truths since taking office in January 2010, but a new TV ad has Editor Francis Scandale of The Record really taking notice and planting the story in the middle of the front page today.

Ad for Christie
leaves out key facts

Boy, does it ever skimp on facts. I've been seeing this ad for several days, and it sounds like the first in a series of campaign ads for a presidential bid. God speed, and get out of  our lives.

Staff Writer John Reitmeyer treats the governor deferentially, never confronting him on distortions in the ad about bipartisan support, balanced budgets or education funding.

Reitmeyer says the ad includes statements that "don't tell the full story," and the same can be said about his story.

Sloppy editing, editors

Sloppy editing continues to let down readers, as in an A-4 story that reports: "A third toll collector pleaded guilty ... to taking for stealing an estimated $2,282."

Even with three inside pages filled with stories on higher education, head Assignment Editor Deirdre Sykes couldn't find enough local news for the front of Local today.

Does a car that hit a fence in Westwood deserve a photo, let alone the enormous, staged one on L-1 today? How desperate can the newsroom's most powerful editor get?

Is this Sykes' flawed news judgment we're seeing? Or, are the placement of stories and photos left to the layout editor? 

Yet, when readers turn to L-8 today, they find Staff Writer Melissa Hayes' moving story about Christopher Rim, an Academies@Englewood student who founded an anti-bullying group.

Why is this compelling story buried here? Are the editors sick of the anti-bullying message?

Laziness in review

Also on L-1 today, Road Warrior Columnist John Cichowski reviews a year of setbacks for commuters -- because he neglected to actually cover most of them when they were happening.

But his stubborn bias for drivers over mass-transit users is clear in the headline, which refers to "motorists," not "commuters."

Stomach turning

A week ago, Restaurant Reviewer Elisa Ung told readers that Khloe Bistrot in Fort Lee serves organic meat and farmed fish, but today, she doesn't provide any details about the origin of the food she sampled at Savini in Allendale.

Ung continues to order swordfish at restaurants, including this one, apparently unaware the Environmental Defense Fund warns women and children up to age 12 to avoid it altogether, because of its elevated levels of mercury.

In the data box, she says "value [is] generally good," listing appetizers at $7 to $15, but the review gives $16.50 as the price of an appetizer portion of rigatoni Bolognese.

Finally, why is Ung reviewing a 12-year-old restaurant (Better Living centerfold)?

Last supper

Free-lancer Jeffrey Page continues to damage his credibility with today's Eating Out on $50 review of Sparta Taverna in Ridgefield Park (Page 21, Better Living).

Page and one other person had dinner there, but insisted on stuffing their faces with dessert, spending  a total of $55.95, with tax and tip. The whole point of the review is to keep the dinner tab under $50.

Page also doesn't tell readers that when he reviewed the previous Greek restaurant at the same address in 2009, his $50 likely bought dinner for four people.

Page's downward slide began with his recent endorsement of Barcelona's in Garfield, one of the worst Italian-American restaurants in northern New Jersey. 

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