Sunday, October 16, 2011

Lazy editors lose directions to city

The plaza of Zuccotti Park.Image via Wikipedia
The Record refuses to send reporters to Zuccotti Park, shown before it was occupied.

The Record's assignment editors didn't want to send reporters to lower Manhattan to interview North Jersey residents taking part in the Occupy Wall Street protests.

So the lazy bums concocted a ridiculous story for the Local front today that would for the first time since mid-September try to gauge whether the occupation of Zuccotti Park "made any ripples across the Hudson River."

What a joke. What did they expect? Students skipping classes at Bergen Community College in Paramus? Books long overdue at the Wayne library? Depositors withdrawing all their money from Bank of America branches?

Editorial gas

Who was responsible for this slanted, poorly reported story -- head Assignment Editor Deirdre Sykes; her deputy, Dan Sforza; or clueless Rich Whitby? Maybe Assistant Assignment Editor Christina Joseph was on weekend doody.

In their North Jersey wanderings on the Occupy Wall Street story, Staff Writers John  C. Ensslin and Andrea Alexander apparently didn't try to find -- or want to find -- such North Jersey residents as James Martin of Ringwood.

Martin, whose office is a few blocks away from Zuccotti Park, has a great deal to say about what he learned from the protesters on O-2, the editorial page.

Martin puts to shame all those print and electronic reporters who have complained repeatedly the protest has no focused message. That's just grousing from lazy journalists who have been spoiled by having every other  story handed to them in the form of a press release.  

News scramble

There isn't much to read on Editor Francis Scandale's Page 1 today. I found it so boring, I stopped to unload a dishwasher, even though I had plenty of clean plates, cups, forks and so forth.

Editor Liz Houlton's news copy desk guaranteed readers would be instantly turned off by the main element on A-1 today by putting the year 2001 in the main headline.

The takeout on how New Jersey supposedly led the way in probing the decade-old anthrax attack comes five days after a "Frontline" investigation aired on PBS.

The off-lead story is another discussion of cutbacks in health benefits for current and retired state workers, the third or fourth piece recently on a similar subject by Staff Writer Juliet Fletcher.

Blame the victims

In the third front-page story, transportation reporter Karen Rouse continues to trumpet NJ Transit's company line that pedestrians killed by trains are "trespassers."

She has yet to report on the success or failure of lawsuits filed by victims' families against the state transit agency. Do juries believe the agency has been negligent by failing to post guards at all crossings and build fences along unprotected stretches of tracks in Hackensack and other towns?

Back on L-1, Road Warrior Columnist John Cichowski retreats to a comfortable subject -- MVC computers -- ensuring he didn't have to stray far from his own computer.

On L-2, Staff Writer Melissa Hayes reports on what's been done to repair the "bad reputations" of Englewood's middle and high schools -- her first extensive education story since she took over the beat in May.

The story updates desegregation efforts at Dwight Morrow High, but doesn't mention that few white students attend Janis E. Dismus Middle School -- a tradition dating to when Publisher Stephen A. Borg attended a private school in Englewood.

Locals are yokels

Hackensack residents -- as well as readers in many other towns -- won't find any municipal news today.

Scandale must have been blinded by his love for readers in their 20s not to realize an expected increase in Social Security benefits this week should have been on Page 1 today, not B-1.

I'm sure readers also are having a hard time fathoming why a glowing profile of the CEO and president of Becton, Dickinson and Co. appears on the Business front today. 

He must be well-compensated, though the story omits any mention of his pay and perks. Still, B-1 and B-6 photos of Vincent A. Fortenza clearly show his clothes don't fit him.

Freeloader's complaints

On the Better Living front today, Restaurant Reviewer Elisa Ung passes along her pet peeves, as well as those from her co-workers. And is that photo above the headline an actual waitress or a clumsy attempt to smear servers with a posed studio shot?

Readers' biggest pet peeve is Ung, a restaurant reviewer on an expense account who is blind to how restaurants mark up bottles of wine 500% or more to boost their profits or price entrees higher than at comparable places in the city.

It's not her money, so she gladly pays through the nose for meat and poultry that are raised with harmful additives, and for artificially colored farmed salmon.

God forbid, she would ask a restaurant owner to tell her how the food was raised or grown and pass that along to readers so they can make an intelligent decision on whether they want to eat there.

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