Saturday, October 22, 2011

Bad headlines, lazy editing, more errors

Moammar Gadhafi dictator of Libya dead / woundedImage by audiovisualjunkie via Flickr
The media are gnashing their teeth over how Moammar Ghadafi died.

Risks remain in crossing street

That's not much of headline -- because it states the obvious -- just like the lead headline on Page 1 of The Record today:

Risks remain in Iraq

Readers never know what to expect from the news copy desk since Editor Liz Houlton took over as its supervisor -- ending the high standards of Co-Slot Nancy Cherry, one of the older workers who got the heave-ho in 2008.

Dull, wrong, clunky

But they do know to expect dull or inaccurate headlines, lousy photo captions and almost no editing. 

Below that obvious Iraq headline, the desk did come up with:

'You are a murderer'

Of course, in addition to drawing readers in, that headline raises a question for Editor Francis Scandale of why the sentencing of a cold-case murderer is the biggest North Jersey or New Jersey news he could find today.

Maybe he spent Friday on the golf course.

The third front-page story today reports that the government of India has given up trying to end poverty or dissolve a rigid class system in favor of opening 50,000 colleges -- and that Rutgers University is on board with the plan.

Just a few days ago, another Page 1 headline left readers wondering just how out of touch Houlton is.

The drop headline on the prisoner-swap story on Wednesday said:

Jews, Muslims worried what future will bring

North Jersey Jews and Muslims are always worried about the future.

On A-2, three embarrassing corrections appear, including one from Sports.

Ghadafi photo is DOA

After using much of Friday's front page for reaction to Moammar Ghadafi's death, pussy Scandale didn't even run a photo of the dead dictator lying on a mattress in cold storage -- the one readers saw on every TV news broadcast at dinner time Friday night.

And does anyone but reporters really care how he died (A-10)?

As the world financial system faces collapse, the big business news today is a story reporting Bayer AG plans to move workers from Wayne to Hanover Township "beginning in 2013"  (A-12).

Lazy assignment desk

Editor Deirdre Sykes' assignment editors should be ashamed of themselves after reading a letter to the editor from Pedra Del Vecchio, a Hackensack resident who details the abysmal lack of safety around NJ Transit stations and tracks in the city (A-13).

While the clueless editors repeatedly spout the agency line that pedestrians killed by trains are "trespassers," Del Vecchio notes: 

"Why are there no [warning] signs? Why are there so few safe, legal pedestrian crossings in a residential area with a high rate of foot traffic?"

Local news is a crime

The biggest local news Sykes could find leads the Local section today: four-day-old arrests in an undercover drug operation. It's a mess.

The drop headline says, "One suspect pointed gun at detective," but the copy editor missed a major error in the lead paragraph, which says one suspect "pointed a loaded pistol to a detective's head."

A second police story helps fill out the Local front with a minor incident involving an unattended case near the tracks in Ridgewood. The desperate assignment desk blew up the photo to fill as much space as possible.

Why didn't any editor see the value for L-1 or even A-1 of a heartwarming story about a 102-year-old man who lives independently in Paterson and found a way to honor his Clifton health-care providers, a doctor and his physician  assistant (L-2)?

Unfortunately, the kitchen-sink lead paragraph of a sidebar profiling patient Ralph Golzio is a confusing jumble: 

"Delivered by a midwife, Ralph Golzio was born on Oct. 20, 1909, in his family's home in Paterson on Beech and Oak streets to his Italian immigrant parents, John and Caroline."

Backing and filling

More desperate filling of space can be seen on L-3, with a large photo of a minor traffic accident. 

Police and court news are on L-1, L-3, L-6 and L-8 today, but there is no municipal news from Hackensack, Teaneck, Englewood or many other towns.

Also on L-6 today is yet another story about a six-town proposal to share a dispatch center. The Woodland Park daily recently has reported every grant, every meeting, every burp and every bowel movement in connection with the plan.

Today's paper shows once again why Local is Sykes' pride and joy.

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