Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Editors railroad readers again

ALP 46 4600 in Summit, NJImage via Wikipedia
Fencing shown in foreground is hard to find along many stretches of track.

Does NJ Transit have a responsibility to try and keep teens and others from using active railroad tracks as shortcuts, often with fatal consequences? 

Do the editors of The Record, Francis Scandale and Deirdre Sykes, have a responsibility to question the state mass-transit agency on what counter- measures it takes -- such as fences and guards?

The answer is "yes" on both. But you won't find anything in the paper today on how NJ Transit contributes to pedestrian deaths by leaving wide stretches of track unfenced or unguarded.

Same tragic story

Just over a year ago, a 12-year-old Hackensack Middle School student was killed on the tracks along Railroad Avenue as he walked home from school. 

The stories didn't even mention how block upon block of track through that residential-industrial neighborhood are unfenced (or that Hackensack provides no public-school busing, exposing students to danger).

The Record's assignment editors are more comfortable with the NJ Transit corporate line every time a train kills a pedestrian: the victim was "trespassing," the train could not stop in time, the engineer blew his horn, and blah, blah, blah.

Mother's anguish

In the last two paragraphs of today's Page 1 story on the deaths of two teens in Wayne, the mother of victim Nicholas Sabina, 17, says NJ Transit needs "to take steps to improve security at the trestle (A-6)."

Even though four reporters worked on the story, her statement is just thrown in there as an afterthought, and the transit agency wasn't even asked for comment.

The Wayne teens were killed Sunday night and a Garfield teen was killed by a train on Monday afternoon, so why are there separate stories on A-1 and L-1 today?

I guess Sykes' famously lazy assignment desk couldn't get their tushes moving fast enough to put all three deaths in one package on Page 1, as a real newspaper would do.

Or Scandale couldn't be bothered to tear up the A-1 layout to get all three deaths out front.

The caption under the A-1 photo of the Wayne trestle where the teens died says it's "known to be used as a shortcut to Willowbrook Mall." That's awkward. How about, "a well-known shortcut to Willowbrook Mall"?

And is "encounter" an appropriate word for the drop headline, when two teens suffered horrible deaths and a third was seriously injured?

Christie lap dog

The off-lead A-1 story is a column by Staff Writer Charles Stile, who calls on Governor Christie to finish his first term, not run for president -- exactly what an editorial said on Monday.

In his second paragraph, Stile says Christie "engaged New Jersey in a grand debate."

What a hoot. Revisionist history already. What debate? The GOP bully used his executive powers or veto anytime the Democrats passed a bill he opposed, including the so-called millionaires tax.

(The New York Times reported at 11:09 a.m. today Christie will not seek the presidency, so we're stuck with him.)

Scandale is doing everything in his power to keep the occupation of Wall Street off of Page 1, reaching all the way to Perugia, Italy, to make the Amanda Knox story the third element on A-1 today.

C'mon, Francis. Wall Street. The seat of power. It's just across the river. This is a lot bigger than A-4 news.

Local news drought

The last Hackensack municipal story appeared on Sept. 21, and there's none today, either.

Sykes' assignment minions really are hurting for local news today, filling nearly half of L-3 with stories that belong on the Business pages.

Staff Writer Karen Sudol must have re-written a press release to get her lead paragraph on Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno (L-3). 

She wrote the official "continued to show state government's support for Garden State businesses by visiting two companies in North Jersey ...."

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