Saturday, October 1, 2011

Jock itch invades news meeting

The Bergen County courthouse in Bergen County,...Image via Wikipedia
The Bergen County Courthouse is in what town?

Editor Francis Scandale's well-known jock itch appears to have infected all of the editors in the news meeting by the looks of today's front page -- the second day in the row of above-the-fold sports.

When I still worked at The Record, Scandale said a survey showed sports was 12th on the list of what subscribers wanted to read. He ignored that then, and he ignores that now.

Governor Christie's White House ambitions also are back on Page 1 today, and the story reports a "public announcement" may come soon.

The A-1 story to the right of the big high school football photo probably has readers doing a double-take. 

Training wheels

In the same position on Friday, Staff Writer Karen Rouse reported the federal transportation debt facing New Jersey had grown to nearly $274 million, and the story contained no hint of a deal.

What a difference a day makes. Today, Rouse reports U.S. and New Jersey officials have ended their 11-month standoff over the aborted Hudson River rail tunnels, and the state can get off the hook with a payment of $95 million.

Did Rouse's sources tell her, earlier in the week, a settlement was near, but she couldn't report it? Or did her story on Friday shake something loose? Pretty strange.

Today, Rouse does her best to polish Christie's anti-mass transit image, leaving to nearly the end of her story the resultant loss of billions in federal funds, as well as tens of thousands of jobs, not to mention how commuters will be standing in the aisles on rush-hour trains for years to come.

When he killed the rail tunnels, Christie cited potentially devastating cost overruns, but also noted his overweight wife, first lady Mary Pat Christie, had complained she would have had to walk too far to make her subway connection in Manhattan.

Major Latino news

Putting aside that the sentencing of a gang leader is the most important local news today, the poorly written lead paragraph of the story confuses readers with both an "after" and a "before."

The L-1 lead says Juan Rosario was removed from a courtroom "after an expletive-filled outburst before a judge sentenced him on attempted murder charges."

This would have been much clearer: The gang leader was removed from the courtroom for an expletive-filled outburst at the judge who sentenced him.

Also, he was convicted of attempted murder, so the word "charges" are unnecessary. 

The first paragraph also says the courtroom is in "Bergen County," and nowhere else are readers told that means Hackensack. It's "Superior Court in Hackensack" or a "Hackensack courtroom," not a "Bergen County courtroom."

Head Assignment Editor Deirdre Sykes' supremely lazy assignment minions also use non-fatal accident photos to fill holes on L-3 and L-6, and the only Hackensack news is a police story on L-1.

Reliving 9/11

The story on journalists giving their eyewitness accounts of 9/11 to students at Ramapo College doesn't mention that Jim Dwyer of The New York Times once worked at The Record (L-3).

Readers also aren't told Staff Photographer Thomas E. Franklin's "iconic image of three firefighters hoisting an American flag" over the debris was relegated to a back page through a massive failure of new judgment by Scandale, the editor, who -- then and now -- simply lacks the gumption for the job.

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  1. I'm still puzzling over Thursday's car crash picture in Flanders courtesy of the Star Ledger.


    Victor, do you think that this some sort of stealth circulation strategy?

    BTW, agree with you on Don Bosco/Bergen Catholic...big story in sports, ok. Page 1 above the fold? No, I don't think so.

  2. Thanks.

    Today, on A-3, there was a photo of a building-facade collapse in some far off place, out of our circulation area.

    Just another space filler.


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