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The Pulitzer Prize eluded Editor Francis Scandale during his decade at The Record.
By VICTOR E. SASSON
After more than a decade of mediocrity as editor of The Record, Francis "Frank" Scandale has been given the old heave-ho by Publisher Stephen A. Borg.
When Borg took over in mid-2006, Scandale had already been editor for about five years and had tried to reverse falling circulation with coverage aimed at 20-year-olds.
Calling that a "failed strategy," Borg embarked on a series of major editorial decisions that reshaped the daily, then headquartered in Hackensack.
Still, Borg promoted the editor to vice president, and paid him more than $200,000 a year.
The end came on Halloween, two days after a snowstorm that paralyzed the region. Coverage in The Record by a skeleton weekend crew was pathetically weak -- typical of Scandale's recent performance.
Scandale, 54, came to The Record from The Denver Post, where he helped the staff win a Pulitzer Prize for coverage of the Columbine massacre.
But he fell flat on his face covering the Sept. 11, 2001, attack on America -- the biggest story of his life -- when he failed to publish Staff Photographer Thomas E. Franklin's unique flag-raising photo on the front page.
In the years that followed, Scandale's flawed news judgment was evident time and again, especially when he gave Page 1 play to sports and the "business of sports," pushing New Jersey and North Jersey news inside.
He also played second fiddle to head Assignment Editor Deirdre Sykes, who many consider the real power in the newsroom.
Sykes and her clueless minions presided over the greatest erosion of local news coverage in the paper's history, especially after the move to Woodland Park in 2008.
In a trick-or-treat announcement on Monday from North Jersey Media Group, Borg said he is looking for a new editor who will show "bold and decisive leadership and relentless focus on the consumer."
Which is another way of saying Scandale had none of those qualities.
Scandale got rid of the paper's only Hispanic and black columnists, as well as the only female news columnist, and later took part in the spoiled Borg siblings' wholesale firing of older newsroom employees with 20 years to 30 years or more of service.
Now, it's his turn. It couldn't happen to a nastier guy.