Thursday, October 6, 2011

Editor lives to sell newspapers

Steve Jobs shows off iPhone 4 at the 2010 Worl...Image via Wikipedia
Should a local newspaper put the Steve Jobs obit on Page 1?

What kind of news world does Editor Francis Scandale of the Record inhabit?

Scandale is not accountable to the public or his absentee publisher, so he's accustomed to doing what he wants with Page 1.

His only problems are his famously flawed news judgment and wrestling stories away from Deirdre Sykes, the immovable head assignment editor and real power in the Woodland Park newsroom.

The murder of a 23-year-old Teaneck woman wasn't front-page news on Wednesday, but the arrest of her husband leads the paper today. Why? To sell newspapers?

Then, Scandale demotes to the bottom of the page an engaging story about more aggressive forms of cancer in African-American women than in white women. That would have made a great A-1 patch.

Here's Job 1

A-1 is dominated today by the obituary of Steve Jobs, 56, a founder of Apple Inc., but why does Scandale put his death from cancer out front while uniformly banishing obituaries of prominent local residents to inside Local? 

Unfortunately, Jobs and other tech wizards have paid little attention to how their computers and smart phones continue to confound people 50 years old and older. 

So, it's no surprise Scandale makes such a big deal of his death. 

The editor has always ignored older newsroom workers, and apparently made no objection when Publisher Stephen A. Borg culled them as if they were chickens on the way to the slaughterhouse. 

No gold standard

One of those given the heave-ho was Nancy Cherry, co-slot or co-supervisor of the news copy desk, now in the incompetent hands of Editor Liz Houlton.

When Nancy left, no one bothered to enforce her strict standards of good writing and accuracy in text, photo captions and headlines.

So, today and nearly every day, the news copy desk runs wild, as in the A-1 headline for the Jobs story.

The co-founder of Apple Inc. becomes the "founder" in the four-deck headline. Two headline no-nos are ending a line with "was" or "of" -- both are violated here. 

Another inaccurate, inelegant and unimaginative headline. On Page 1, no less.

On A-2, there are three embarrassing corrections, one blamed "on incorrect information" from Englewood.

Remixing old news

The front of Sykes' Local section today seems to rehash a lot of old news.

Those Westwood and Hillsdale residents are demanding a solution to flooding, as they did a few weeks ago.

I didn't see any publicity in The Record about last weekend's Korean harvest festival in Bergen County, but here is a story about a second Korean festival, this one sponsored by a New York City group.

Another glowing downtown success story appears at the bottom of the page --this one on Glen Rock, where Scandale lives -- in contrast to total neglect of struggling downtowns in Hackensack, Englewood and Teaneck, the county's most diverse communities.

Police news and news about the police -- not municipal news -- again dominate the section put out by Sykes and her supremely lazy assignment minions.

Cutting to the bone

In Better Living, I no longer see anything from free-lance food writer Amy Kuperinsky, who wrote numerous Starters and Martketplaces in recent years.

Today's Starter, "a first look at recently opened restaurants," is by Bob Probert, whose work has also appeared in (201) magazine.

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