Thursday, June 30, 2011

The news gang that can't write straight

The New Jersey State House in Trenton is the s...Image via Wikipedia
The State House in Trenton. Is Governor Christie packing up already?

It's good to see most of The Record's front page devoted to the budget drama in Trenton -- finally -- but what do you make of that confusing off-lead story on the Teaneck police contract?

Governor Christie's 2% cap on arbitration awards applies only to contracts that expire after Dec. 31, 2010, so why is the Teaneck contract -- which expired in 2007 -- being used as an example of failure?

Christie boo-boo

Did Christie deliberately or mistakenly include the Teaneck contract in the cap and misspeak, as he has done often on subjects ranging from education to transportation? 

The story reports the police contract in Spotswood was settled under the new rules, so the main headline must be wrong: "No cap on new police salaries."

Is this mildly critical, A-1 story Editor Francis Scandale's best shot at Christie, who seems intent on destroying the middle-class way of life in New Jersey?

Isn't the real mystery why Christie hasn't capped the salaries of hundreds of police chiefs, as he did for school superintendents? Where are The Record stories about that?

Bad sub-head, photo

Another headline on Page 1 is wrong. The sub-headline on the Democrats'  budget and the millionaires tax reads "millionaire's tax." 

No. The tax doesn't belong to a single millionaire.

Scandale specializes in scintillating Page 1 art -- as readers can see from the photo of a nearly empty NJN newsroom on the front page today.

Fat of the land

If you want a good laugh, see the OpEd piece on A-21, claiming Christie should run for president now.

Can't you just see the cross-gender, Laurel and Hardy-like team of Christie and Sarah Palin or Michele Bachmann trying to seize the White House?

The first thing Christie would dump is first lady Michelle Obama's "Let's Move" campaign against obesity.

"If you want to move, move your bowels," Christie would tell critics. "I like my beer and pizza sitting down."

Sun in her eyes

Head Assignment Editor Deirdre Sykes uses a good chunk of her Local front today on a non-news story -- the installation of solar panels on the roof of the Bergen County parking garage.

The weekly Hackensack Chronicle wrote about this same county solar project nearly three months ago. 

In the past decade, Englewood has focused development along Route 4 (L-1), but why has The Record neglected to report on the hard times that have befallen the Palisade Avenue business district?

No Hackensack news appears in the paper today.

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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

A front page only Christie could love

Chris Christie - CaricatureImage by DonkeyHotey via Flickr
A caricature of Governor Christie.

As far as Governor Christie is concerned, his work is done: Public employees will pay more for health insurance and pensions, NJN is history, his budget is the only one he'll sign and the Democrats can just forget about the millionaires tax.

If the GOP bully could craft a front-page, it would be just like the one ordered up by Editor Francis Scandale in The Record today -- dominated by tabloid law-and-order stories -- just days before the budget deadline.

The only hint of the Battle of Trenton is yet another political column on A-1 by Staff Writer  Charles Stile on supposed bipartisanship. (What a lousy headline.) 

Flights of fancy

A letter on A-10 today from Jim Schnackenberg of Rutherford exposes the preposterous notion that Teterboro Airport is "a good neighbor," as an OpEd piece claimed on Tuesday.

The airport simply caters to the rich -- to the detriment of just about everyone else -- a story long ignored by The Record.

An editorial calling for a state budget compromise is too little and too late (A-10).

Really shocking

The Wayne story that belongs on Page 1 is the railroading of Assemblyman Scott Rumana, who has been brought up on charges because he pushed for a renewable energy project in his hometown (L-1).

How flawed is Scandale's news judgment? 

When head Assignment Editor Deirdre Sykes told him about the police stand-off in Wayne, Scandale jumped up and down and asked others in the news meeting to join him.

"We have our last A-1 story! You're the greatest! This is the best assignment desk in the business!"

Road worm

Boy, would you look at all that space on the Local front wasted on Road Warrior John Cichowski, a master in finding the obscure and irrelevant to write about. 

He is  Sykes' chief space-filler.

Have you noticed the unusual amount of coverage recently of break-ins in Tenafly (L-3)? 

Does that have anything to do with Publisher Stephen A. Borg fearing his $3.65 million McMansion will be next? 

Where is the Hackensack, Teaneck and Englewood news today?

Susan's rib

Only overpaid Food Editor Susan Leigh Sherrill has 12 hours to waste on preparing ribs -- only to burn them.

I guess there is nothing in the barbecue cookbook she is promoting today on the Better Living front about the danger of smoked foods, especially when they are charred, as readers can plainly see from the photo. 

The American Cancer Society says eating excessive amounts of grilled meat or chicken can increase your risk of developing cancer.

Experts say well-done or charred meats pose the highest risk.

Thanks, Susan, for another healthy recipe.

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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Battle of Trenton bores editor

Inside New Meadowlands Stadium during the firs...Image via Wikipedia
The owners of the N.Y. Giants and N.Y. Jets have rejected an offer of $10 million to rename their new East Rutherford stadium "The Tidy Bowl." 

Editor Francis Scandale is so bored by the looming budget battle in Trenton, he knocked it down to the bottom of Page 1 today in favor of two breaking stories -- both about sports and, as he likes to say, the "business of sports."

The Record's talented photographers apparently had nothing of front-page quality on Monday, so the Williams tennis sisters get the nod.

The off-lead on a naming deal for the New Meadowlands Stadium is a rewrite of a story that first appeared in something called the Sports Business Journal, but Staff Writer John Brennan pestered Scandale until he agreed to run it outside. 

"I'm not going to stop snapping your jock strap until you tell me this is going on A-1," Brennan howled as he held down the editor.

Payback time

At the top of A-1, Citigroup gets robbed of $19 million by a former vice president from Englewood Cliffs -- cheered on by all those homeowners who pay exorbitant interest to banks on their 30-year mortgages. 

After running a Mike Kelly column that urged the shutdown of Tereboro Airport, or at least a ban on noisy business jets, the editors buckled under pressure and run a propaganda piece about the airport on A-9 today.

Unfortunately, many residents of Hackensack and other towns near the airport can't pick up the paper to read the OpEd piece, because their hands are covering their ears as Teterboro jets scream or roar overhead.

This is local news?

Governor Christie apparently has succeeded in giving away NJN, but the only notice in the paper today is a column on the Local front, the pride and joy of head Assignment Editor Deirdre Sykes.

Meanwhile, inside pages are padded with a Hasbrouck Heights photo-op for Lt. Gov. Kim Guadano (L-2), and two non-fatal fire stories and photos (both L-3).

Apparently reacting to how little Hackensack news has appeared in The Record since it moved to Woodland Park, the city is hiring a public relations person, according to a story on L-5.

Unreported news

Meanwhile, surveyors were at work over the weekend at 150 River St. and 80 River St., Hackensack, in preparation for demolition of The Record's landmark building to make way for a Walmart.

At Main and Anderson streets in Hackensack, workmen continue painting the Sears building in a brown-and-buff color scheme that dresses up what for many years was merely a huge, forlorn pile of bricks.

Big letters etched into the tower spell out:


They now have been painted dark blue and are visible from blocks away, as is the American flag flying over them.

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Monday, June 27, 2011

Reporting the news by the numbers

Malia Obama makes her way through the crowd at...Image via Wikipedia
Bill Ervolino's blog on was shut down in 2010 after he made an inappropriate comment about Malia Obama, above. Now, The Record staff writer has won first place for humor columns.


Is it just coincidence, desperation or inept planning?

The three major stories on the front page of The Record today are jammed pack with so many numbers you'd think the paper was catering to CPAs.

Editor Francis Scandale's by-the-numbers stories on a municipal ticket blitz, a public-school staff exodus and home foreclosures  follow by one day a mind-numbing, numbers-crunching A-1 piece on funding for road and transit projects.

Eye patch

For the A-1 patch today, Staff Writer Zach Patberg interviewed drivers who complained about getting summonses, but didn't talk to taxpayers who welcome any extra revenue in their inefficient, home-rule communities. 

Of course, even tens of thousands of extra dollars don't justify the bloated salaries and benefits of local police chiefs. 

But ticket quotas? Red-light cameras? What's not to love?

An A-2 correction fixes the embarrassing error in a front-page caption Sunday that said a middle-age woman was 3 years old.

On A-11, both cartoonist Margulies and Editorial Page Editor Alfred P. Doblin weigh in on the giveaway of NJN by Governor Christie.

I've said NJN's evening news show can be boring, but I found last week's coverage of the budget crisis in Trenton more compelling than what I saw in the Woodland Park daily.

In view of today's deadly dull front page, why relegate the killing of a gas station owner from Paramus over $4 to Local -- unless Editor Deirdre Sykes' assignment desk had nothing else (L-1)?

Sykes had no Hackensack or Teaneck news for today's section, but made sure she found room for a revaluation story from her hometown of Harrington Park (L-6).

They win, we lose

What can you say about journalism awards? 

A bunch of editors and reporters get together to pat each other on the back, ignoring readers who howl over the crappy prose they turn out day after day.

Now, the National Society of Newspaper Columnists, which I've never heard of before, reveals its 2011 contest winners for work published in 2010.

"The society’s traditional top prize (its Best Motion Picture or Album of the Year, if you please) is for general-interest columns in large newspapers. 

"First prize this year went to Mike Kelly of The Record of Bergen County, N.J. 

"The judge’s comments included this: 'These are what metro columns should be: elegantly written, with a clear point of view, but — above all — well-reported.'"

Many readers believe Kelly just pushes around words and is a terrible reporter, as he showed recently in a column about noise from planes that use Teterboro Airport.

He wrote that noisy business jets "float" before landing, and described Hackensack as a city of "working-class neighborhoods."

In a major piece on Asbury Park for The Sunday Record in 2000, Kelly failed miserably as a journalist by not saying a single word about the urban gays who were leading the way on reviving the faded shore resort -- as reported by The New York Times the very same day. 

Yeah, he's some reporter.

Bill Ervolino of The Record won first place for humor columns in newspapers with over 50,000 circulation.

The society's Web site is silent on Ervolino's blog, which shut down in 2010 after he made an inappropriate comment about President Obama's daughter, Malia.

Maybe the award to Ervolino should be for perverted humor.

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Sunday, June 26, 2011

Miracle of science, curse of science

Sandy Hook Lighthouse, Sandy Hook, NJImage via Wikipedia
A poorly told shore science story weighs down Page 1 of The Record today.

In a miracle of science, a newborn in Syracuse, N.Y., gained 165 pounds in three short years, according to a photo caption on the front page of The Record today.

Either that or the wrong image was used on Page 1 with a story on New York's  gay-marriage law. The photo clearly shows two middle-age women, but the caption reads:

"Annalise Forbes, 3, and her mother, Rebecca, in Syracuse, N.Y., on Saturday."

Dumping on readers

The main element on A-1 -- an elaborate story on an undersea dump site off Sandy Hook -- reads like a term paper the reporter handed in for his environmental science course in college.

Readers know they're in trouble when the lead paragraph describes a scientist sitting at a laptop computer. The story slows down from there. Gag me with a spoon.

And here I was thinking I'd get to read a story about the shore beyond the usual Memorial Day and Labor Day set pieces or the inane blather about the "Jersey Shore" TV show.

Get out your calculator

As if the patch isn't dull enough, Staff Writers Karen Rouse and John Reitmeyer sound like accountants in describing how much toll money is being earmarked for road and mass-transit projects.

Where is the list of projects that will benefit, especially mass transit, which the paper virtually ignores? Why is this story on A-1?

The Sunday paper is another embarrassment from Editor Francis Scandale.

Senility has set in

In head Assignment Editor Deirdre Sykes' Local section, Road Warrior John Cichowski has a rare, L-1 column on older drivers. As I've said, it's time for him to be driven out.

Hackensack and Teaneck residents will search in vain for news from their towns.

On L-2, a byline is missing.

More indigestion

In Business, Your Money's Worth Columnist Kevin Demarrais writes about his experiences with ATMs in England and France, but still doesn't know enough to get a credit card that doesn't charge foreign-currency transaction fees (B-1).

The Corner Table, a supposed restaurant column that didn't appear in Better Living last Sunday, is back today as little more than a photo feature on dessert cocktails (F-3).

"Around this time of the year, it's no fun to get weighed down by heavy sweets ...," says Restaurant Reviewer Elisa Ung, who apparently can't get enough dessert during the rest of the year.

Maher v. Christie

"Real Time with Bill Maher" on HBO continues to satirize Governor Christie's weight problem.

On Friday night's show, Maher showed unflattering photos of the Republican governor twice. 

First, he said Christie has a "Type A personality" and "Type 2 diabetes." Later, he said the governor's photo will appear on every box of Twinkies.

Since he took office in January 2010, The Record has run only one story about Christie's weight, and nothing on what, if anything, his administration is doing about the obesity epidemic. 
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Saturday, June 25, 2011

Editors fiddle while Trenton burns

September 11, 2001 attacks in New York City: V...Image via Wikipedia
On 9/11, Editor Francis Scandale blew a chance to make The Record's front page unique by ignoring a potential Pulitzer Prize-winning staff photo.

Editor Francis Scandale uses the front page of The Record today to distract readers from the looming battle over the state budget between slash-and-burn Governor Christie and Democrats fighting for the middle class.

The big photo-and-text element on the 9/11 memorial and the story on the Prudential Center in Newark elicit a "gee whiz" and little more.

The 9/11 story -- the third, detailed takeout on Ground Zero in about six months -- only serves to remind many readers of Scandale's deeply flawed news judgment on the day of the attack nearly a decade ago.

He still hasn't lived down relegating to a back page The Record's iconic photo of fireman raising the American flag over the ruins of the World Trade Center in 2001.

Today, readers search in vain for stories on the future of NJN, the millionaires tax, public school funding and other issues that have to be resolved by next Friday, the deadline to balance the state budget.

Scandale also is quoted today in the obituary of Gil Spencer, onetime editor of the Daily News in New York (L-5). Scandale worked for Spencer at The Denver Post.

"He commanded a room by his presence," Scandale says of Spencer.

Sadly, no one will ever say that about Scandale.

The Record's editor apparently inserted his comments into the obituary. His quotes don't appear on the Daily News Web site, where the obit appeared first.

Weight and see

On the front of Local, a story about a tank pull for veterans recalls the rumor that staffers planned to pull head Assignment Editor Deirdre Sykes, Projects Editor Tim Nostrand and  Production Editor Liz Houlton down the street to raise money to fight the obesity epidemic.

Unfortunately, officials in Woodland Park denied them a permit.

Swimsuit edition

Features Director Barbara Jaeger relies on T&A today to distract readers from the lack of food news in Better Living.

The 24-year-old woman, who works at Hooters in Wayne, was a public relations major at William Paterson University.

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Friday, June 24, 2011

Update on porn suit filed against Mac

The Bergen County courthouse in Bergen County,...Image via Wikipedia
When you pass the Main Street entrance to the Bergen County Courthouse in Hackensack, don't forget to wave to Record Staff Writer Kibret Markos, who spends a good deal of his time on smoking breaks.

Superior Court Judge Joseph S. Conte has extended the discovery deadline in the sexual-harassment lawsuit a former employee filed against North Jersey Media Group and Chairman Malcolm A. "Mac" Borg.

Plaintiff Tracey McCain of Englewood alleges Mac sent pornographic e-mails to managers and supervisors, knowing she would see them.

McCain says she worked for NJMG from 2000 to April 22, 2009, when she was fired. She was hired as technical coordinator for the IT department in what is now Woodland Park. In 2007, she was promoted to IT logistics manager.

Son replaces father

Borg, 72, is the former publisher of The Record, a job taken over by his son, Stephen A. Borg, who is not a defendant in the suit. The elder Borg also lives in Englewood.

McCain says one of her duties was to read e-mails sent to her supervisor, who was identified in legal papers as Peter VanLenten, the late vice president of information technology.

"Commencing in or about 2000 and until plaintiff's employment terminated, defendant Borg committed acts of sexual harassment of plaintiff," according to the complaint, which Eye on The Record obtained from the Bergen County Courthouse in Hackensack.

On Thursday, I returned to the courthouse and the Civil Division Records Room (Room 111) and asked to see the file. 

Court officials have made some changes in procedure, such as requiring you to have a docket number. If you don't have one, you have to go to the law library and look it up on a computer.

When you get the file or files, they are placed on a small table in the busy office and no chair is provided, perhaps to discourage you from taking notes and encourage you to use the copy machine (25 cents a page).

Judge Conte agreed to the plaintiff's request to extend discovery and set the new deadline for Aug. 11.

The elder Borg apparently hasn't been deposed, though the plaintiff has. Depositions are not part of the public record.

In the legal papers, the defendants' attorney, Samuel J. Samaro of Pashman Stein, concedes he got "angry" at the plaintiff.

I've seen Samaro in action. He loves to act tough.

The lawyer with the receding hairline charges around $400 an hour, but certainly doesn't spend what he gets from that on his wardrobe, judging from the cheap, off-the-rack suits he stretches over his pot belly.

Life and death

Attorney Demetrios K. Stratis of Fair Lawn, who represents the plaintiff, explained in legal papers he wasn't available for depositions in December because his mother died and his wife gave birth to a boy only a few days apart.

Stratis sought to disqualify Pashman Stein from defending NJMG and Borg, noting the plaintiff at one time paid for legal services from Donna T. Tamayne, a lawyer with the Hackensack firm.

Meanwhile, Samaro has demanded the plaintiff turn over copies of the pornographic material she alleges she saw.

Here is more from the original suit:

"Defendant Borg caused to be disseminated, via electronic mail, to various managers and supervisors within NJMG and specifically to the direct supervisor of the plaintiff, various pornographic videos which were vulgar and offensive and sexually degrading and did so with the knowledge that such material would be viewed or inspected by the plaintiff," according to the suit.

The suit goes on to allege Borg also sent e-mails to managers and supervisors containing  "pornographic pictures," vulgar and offensive "audio recordings" and "other material."

NJMG has denied all of the allegations in the lawsuit, which was filed on Dec. 7, 2009.

Conte and Borg

The suit was assigned to Conte, who greeted Malcolm Borg warmly when he saw him in his Hackensack courtroom in April 2010.

They reminisced about a courthouse ceremony both took part in years before.

McCain's lawsuit also alleges:

"Defendant NJMG knew of the actions of defendant [Malcolm] Borg and failed to take reasonable measures to prevent same from occurring. Defendant NJMG failed to enact or implement policies or procedures to prevent such behavior."

Jennifer A. Borg, daughter of Malcolm and big sister of Stephen, is vice president and general counsel of NJMG. In recent years, she has spent a great deal of time monitoring employees' use of company equipment, including computers and telephones.

It's not known whether she monitored her father's computer and knew about the material he was sending to other managers.

See previous post on Friday's paper

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Democrats hit editorial road block

Downtown PatersonImage via Wikipedia
Editor Francis Scandale believes Paterson is nothing more than a drug and prostitution center that endangers the morality of North Jersey's suburbs.


Democrats finally stepped up and rewrote Governor Christie's budget plan to boost aid to public schools and tax relief for seniors, as well as impose a tax surcharge on millionaires.

What does Editor Francis Scandale do? Of course, he leads Page 1 of The Record with it. 

But where are the supporting sidebars -- such as the Charles Stile column -- where is the A-1 package on this momentous change of heart?

Raids on a drug ring in Paterson as the A-1 off-lead? Hasn't Scandale destroyed Paterson's reputation enough with past series on drug sales and prostitution?

OK, Francis. I can see the gee-whiz, front-page photo of flash flooding in Saddle River. (Wonder if residents store their millions in the basement.)

But it's only six days before the budget deadline. Use the flood-photo caption to refer to a story in Local or anywhere else; not A-1.  

The Democrats don't even get any support from Editorial Page Editor Alfred P. Doblin, who appears to have written today's A-20 column on gay marriage from a closet.

Time for a farewell

It's time to kill the Road Warrior column.

Today, Columnist John Cichowski wastes readers time with a red-tape story nobody cares about -- a tale far removed from the commuting problems he is supposed to write about.

His next column will be about a man who sets off for Vermont to buy a classic car, gets lost, can't find a free road map, then endures long lines at the MVC office. 

A follow-up will count the number of potholes on the round trip and, despite the warm weather, will caution readers about roof ice.

Head Assignment Editor Deirdre Sykes must be asleep at her computer. How could she not notice how irrelevant her hand-picked Road Warrior columnist has become?

Floating car

On Page L-9, the Business editors publish a photo of a floating Mercedez-Benz convertible.

Publisher Stephen A. Borg is planning to trade in both his yacht and his gas-guzzling SUV on one of these beauties.

Food fight

In the Better Living centerfold, Staff Writer Elisa Ung damns another restaurant with faint praise, Natalie's in Ridgewood, giving it only two stars out of four.

The food photos look fabulous, but $26 for four shrimp and $23 for presumably farmed tilapia of questionable quality?

Ung has so little to say about the food, she devotes the better part of the first six paragraphs to the irrelevant -- how many times the restaurant moved around the Ridgewood business distrcit.

In another six paragraphs, the review ends.

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Thursday, June 23, 2011

Winking at obesity as they winked at sex

Two mice; the mouse on the left has more fat s...Image via Wikipedia
Head Assignment Editor Deirdre Sykes, left, and Editor Frank Scandale.

The Record's editors continue to play with readers by running unflattering photos of Governor Christie on the front page -- as they do today -- but remaining mum on his chronic overeating, the poor image he presents and what, if anything, the state is doing to fight obesity.

Newspaper editors once treated public officials' sex escapades as private matters. Now, it seems, obesity is the new sex.


On Feb. 20, a story on A-3 of The Record apparently was the first full discussion of Christie's weight since he took office in January 2010.  

A second piece on Page O-2 that day, an Opinion column by a Washington Post staffer, said the governor makes fat jokes at his own expense.

The Feb. 20 news story reported Christie had been working out with a trainer and losing weight. Neither his overall weight or how much he has lost is listed.

The AP story said the governor is losing weight so he can "be around" for his children, not that he's about to launch a campaign against the obesity epidemic.

Today's A-1 photo has an over line calling Christie "calmer," not "thinner." A few weeks ago, a Page 1 photo of Christie in a state police helicopter showed just how big he is. 

Throwing weight around

Head Assignment Editor Deirdre Sykes is recognized by many as the real power in the newsroom, even though she probably makes half the salary of Editor Francis Scandale.

Sykes apparently determines what investigations the staff pursues, what stories it reports and what photos it runs, especially in Local. Scandale apparently gets a bone -- determining what goes on Page 1.

So, is it Sykes who stands in the way of a series on the obesity epidemic and frank discussion of the food demons that assail the governor? After all, like him, she is a chronic overeater, as is Projects Editor Tim Nostrand.

Something is rotten in Woodland Park.

Ignoring fat cats

Boy, talk about a dramatic lead story today and a headline that screams:

7 days to find $800M

But the headline is a lie. Lawmakers know where to find $800 million to balance the state budget -- even more -- if only Christie would approve a tax surcharge on millionaires.

Here, again, Scandale and Sykes wink at the so-called millionaires tax, as they do at the obesity epidemic.

In the second year of debate over the surcharge, The Record still has not reported how many millionaires support Christie and contribute to his war chest -- in what could be seen as his own private pay-to-play scheme.

The lead story, by Staff Writer John Reitmeyer, reports on A-6 the deal to cut benefits for state employees will save only $10 million in the new budget year, compared to the $323 million Christie hoped to salvage.

Also on A-1, Political Stile Columnist Charles Stile reports the governor said at a Fair Lawn meeting the bill to cut union benefits would "save taxpayers $132 billion over the next 30 years." 

In an OpEd piece on A-21, Jeff Tittel of the Sierra Club asks the question the editorial page editor has never asked -- why is the state bailing out Xanadu and not NJN?

Who will profit?

Now that the Hackensack City Council has approved a makeover for 39 blocks on and around Main Street (L-1), I'm waiting for the paper to report whether any members of the Upper Main Alliance will profit from land transactions needed to make the plan a reality.

Jerome Lomardo is chairman of the group, which oversees a special improvement district and backs the plan. He also runs a real estate company with an office on Main Street, and it's believed other alliance members own land on or near the street.

The photo at the bottom of L-1 shows Sykes is again relying on gee-whiz, non-fatal accidents as a substitute for local news.

And do readers need an L-1 column by Stile on the same Fair Lawn town hall-style meeting he wrote about in great detail on A-1 today? 

More lying photos

On the front of Better Living, three photos show an embalmed Larry King, animal abuse at the state fair in the Meadowlands and Roberta Flack as she hasn't looked in more than 30 years.

Why do newspapers continue to run publicity photos of singers, musicians and others, including their own columnists, that try to turn back the clock?
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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Is the state's budget crisis over?

Fairleigh Dickinson UniversityImage via Wikipedia
FDU now offers a media-studies major with a minor in cheap journalism.

You'd never know by looking at Page 1 of The Record today the deadline for balancing the state budget is only eight days away.

As you can plainly see by the front-page photo of yoga practitioners, the sight of even a little bit of cleavage drives Editor Francis Scandale crazy.

In the off-lead on A-1, Scandale also responds to hundreds of calls to the news desk, asking how police caught a Fairleigh Dickinson University-Teaneck professor who allegedly ran an online prostitution site.

Newsroom whore

This from the T&A editor, who prostitutes himself every day by using the front page to sell the paper.

Usually, Scandale doesn't have much for A-1, with the assignment desk under Deirdre Sykes off in La La Land.

But today, there's plenty of news on the fiscal crisis and Governor Christie's policy steamroller on Pages A-3 and A-4. 

Better stuff inside

All of those stories and even the photo of rocker Bruce Springsteen and his wife leaving the funeral for Clarence Clemons belong on A-1. Hey, Francis, you're not in f-ing Denver anymore.

What's the matter, Frankie, would putting an A-4 story out front make your pal Chris look bad? (Christie is cutting $30 million in state subsidies to day-care centers and preschools for the children of working-class families.)

Editors vs. poles 

In Local, Sykes has her staff catch up with utility pole news.

Utility poles were among the victims in two accidents, and Sykes uses the photos as filler on L-1 and L-3.

Readers who can guess correctly how many poles were knocked down in the L-1 story win lunch with Sykes in the company cafeteria in Woodland Park.

The headline, caption, first and second paragraphs conflict on whether one pole or two went down. How many assignment and news copy editors does it take to screw up a story in The Record?

Road rage

Also on L-1, Road Warrior John Cichowski compares New Jersey and Vermont policies on free road maps. His next column will compare New York State and Pennsylvania road-map policies, and so on for the next several months.

On L-3, Hackensack reporter Monsy Alvarado has a nine-paragraph story on the opening of a recycling center, but never says what will be accepted there.

Batteries? Light bulbs? I guess I'll have to call the city.

Food for thought

On the Better Living front, Food Editor Susan Sherrill actually has something serious to say about wild-caught fish, farmed oysters and other seafood, including a useful tip on not buying fish farmed outside of the United States.

All of this is in the context of providing a recipe for soft-shell crabs from a new book, "For Cod and Country."

The column is a refreshing break from her usual, mindless blather.

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