Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Mindless repetition is killing us

English: Orthographic map of South Korea gener...
It's not known whether Staff Writer Monsy Alvarado will accompany the parents of murder victim Aena Hong when they bring her ashes back to their native South Korea.

When a big news story appears in the paper almost every day, readers get tired of seeing it and wonder what they are missing to make room for it. Even the enormity of 9/11 and the media's seemingly endless coverage caused reader fatigue.

Today, the sixth story about murder victim Aena Hong in eight days is all over Page 1 of The Record -- one day after a court hearing for suspect Charles J. Ann was reported on the Local front.

All six stories go over the same ground. Today's piece amounts to a profile of the victim, including her life in South Korea and North Jersey, and her relationship with Ann.

Editor Marty Gottlieb is milking this one for all the pathos he can find, running a big A-1 photo of Hong's grief-stricken parents, who traveled here from South Korea to claim their daughter's body after she was run over repeatedly by a car on Feb. 20 in Fort Lee.
Shattered dream
"She was a girl with a big dream who came to the United States, but she's going back to her home country as ashes," her father told reporter Monsy Alvarado.

Just below the Hong story, a second story about Pascack Valley Hospital's reopening appears -- one day after state approval led the paper. The hospital isn't going to be ready for 14 months. Why the rush in running a follow-up?

What's leading the paper today? That moron Mitt Romney. I'd be happy if I never read another story about the GOP presidential hopeful until the convention in August.

Snow job

On the front of head Assignment Editor Deirdre Sykes' Local section, Road Warrior John Cichowski has yet another column about roof snow or what he refers to as "dangerous white glop."

Readers have lost count of how many columns on the subject they've been hit with by the lazy Cichowski, who can't seem to get himself out of the office to cover commuting issues.

If Cichowski's repetitious column was dropped, Sykes might find room for some Hackesack news or news about a lot of other towns she doesn't cover too well.

Idiot news

Sykes did deliver breaking news today: a homeless man's 1987 gas guzzler was destroyed by explosions in Hackensack after the emphysema victim lit a cigarette, igniting three oxygen tanks in the car (L-1). 

Despite the photo and a long story that continues on L-2, Sykes' incompetent minions couldn't learn the man's identity.

To make room for repetitious stories about Aena Hong and Pascack Valley Hospital on Page 1, the editors had to demote to L-1 coverage of dramatic testimony in the trial of Dharun Ravi, who has been charged in the suicide of Tyler Clementi of Ridgewood.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Shooting doesn't belong on Page 1

Malia Obama makes her way through the crowd at...
Columnist Bill Ervolino's blog was dropped in 2010 after he made an inappropriate comment about Malia Obama, above. On Monday, Ervolino told senior citizens that he is starting a new blog.

The bloodbath at Columbine High School shocked the nation nearly 13 years ago, but The Record and other media continue to cover such shootings in the same narrow way.

Today's Page 1 story on the killing of students in Ohio, taken from the Cleveland Plain Dealer, begins:

"It appears that T.J. Lane had violence in his life from the beginning."

In between school and college shootings, the media does little to change things. 

How often do you see editorials about gun control or papers trying to shame politicians into finally shutting down the gun trade? Why shouldn't every school in America have metal detectors?

The death of a few students in Ohio is no longer enough to merit front-page play in a news-business-as-usual paper like The Record. As it is, the story is mere sensationalism, shedding no light on why we continue to tolerate such violence.

North Jersey focus

The rest of A-1 has a strong North Jersey focus, including the trial of Dharun Ravi in the death of Tyler Clementi of Ridgewood and a story on two Fort Lee brothers who won Oscars for a documentary, "Undefeated."

Ralph and Glenn Zipper? Imagine the jokes these two weathered at Fort Lee High School.

Poor editing

I was riveted by the Ravi trial testimony, but unsettled by the poor editing on Page 1: "[Molly] Wei said when testifying Monday... " and "confidently answering questions brought by both attorneys ...."

How about Molly Wei "testified Monday"? And from where did the attorneys bring the questions, home or a take-out shop? I expect more from a front page crafted by Editor Marty Gottlieb.

Shameless columnist

On the front of head Assignment Editor Deirdre Sykes' Local section, Columnist Charles Stile apparently has dropped the word "populism," which he used incorrectly on A-1 last Thursday to describe Governor Christie's proposed income-tax cut.

An income-tax cut that panders to millionaires is just the opposite, and no one caught or corrected this major error.

Cowardly Rothman

It's good to see Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr. finally telling it like it is when it comes a fellow Democrat, Rep. Steve Rothman, who is trying to save his ass by ducking out of a fight against arch-conservative Scott Garrett (L-1).

The court hearing for Charles J. Ann of Fort Lee in the murder of girlfriend Aena Hong is the fifth story about the couple in seven days (L-1). 

A visit by Hong's parents to the Palisades Park Library to see the mural she painted was described as an "impromptu stop-over" -- another case of slipshod editing. 

Fender-bender photo

Sykes couldn't find any room for Hackensack news today, but a large photo of a non-fatal accident on Route 4 is used as L-3 filler.

George Meidanis, co-owner of the Ridge Diner in Park Ridge, is known by thousands, but his obituary is buried today on L-6.

Second look

Do you recall the weird Page 1 headline that led The Record on Monday, Feb. 13, the day I left on a week-long vacation?

Pipeline 'scar' headed here

Scary, if true. But what a clunky way to describe the potential damage of a proposed new natural-gas pipeline across North Jersey. 

And it's so definitive, as if legal action couldn't stop it. Boy, the news copy desk under Editor Liz Houlton is so all seeing and all knowing.

Boy reporter

In that same edition, Staff Writer Bill Ervolino ignored another environmental disaster in writing a feature story about two friends who bought a 1955 bronze dedication plaque for Ford Motor Co.'s Mahwah Assembly Plant they had found on Craigslist.

Ervolino must have thought he was writing another column about his parents for Better Living, because the story on the Local front goes on and on.

But nowhere does he mention Ford's shameful history of paint-sludge dumping that sickened and killed residents of an old mine area in Ringwood. The plant closed in 1980.

On Monday, Ervolino appeared before a class of about 50 senior citizens at Bergen Community College in Paramus.

He told them he'll be starting a new blog that he wanted to call, "Then and Now," about Bergen and Passaic counties. 

Of course, the pervert didn't mention his last blog was shut down in 2010 after he made an inappropriate remark about Malia Obama, the president's daughter, who was 12 at the time.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Monday, February 27, 2012

We're sick of reading about cops

main street of Fort Lee in NJ
The Record reports today that new residential buildings in Fort Lee would attract more cars to the borough's already congested streets and result in "holdups."

Manhattan. Paris. Life has been good for veteran journalist Marty Gottlieb, who took over as editor of The Record a little over a month ago.

But how familiar is he with North Jersey and how the Woodland Park daily has covered local news, including Hackensack, where it prospered for more than 110 years before pulling up stakes?

Growing diversity in North Jersey police departments has been evident long before today's Page 1 trend piece, and the focus on the Hackensack force merely piles on numerous stories about the suspended chief in the past two years -- often to the exclusion of other news.

Although it's good to read a positive story about Hackensack cops, the focus is too narrow. Communities have diversified other workers, including health inspectors.  Where has head Assignment Editor Deirdre Sykes been?

Skeleton edition

OK. It's Monday, so how much can you expect from The Record's skeleton staff?

There is a second trend story -- about the risks crossing guards face -- but the top of the page is all about the Oscars and Governor Christie's wisdom on the Three Stooges who are vying for the GOP presidential nomination.

Christie says he would never exit gracefully and become Mitt Romney's vice president, but instead seek reelection next year. 

Good luck. Now that he's protected millionaires from tax increases and failed to keep his original campaign promise to cut property taxes for the middle class, it will be payback time.

French influence

It's hard to understand why Gottlieb held the front page for a big photo of Jean Dujardin, who won the Oscar for best actor, under the trite "SILENCE IS GOLDEN" heading. 

After sitting through hours of boring acceptance speeches Sunday night or going to sleep before the ceremony was over, is that really what readers want to see on the front page of their local paper?

Cars still popular

On the front of the Local news section, Sykes delivers breaking news -- if a developer builds two 47-story residential towers in Fort Lee, people moving in will bring their cars with them (L-1).

And if you believe the second paragraph, crime will follow:

 "Drivers ... would experience more holdups [my italics] unless traffic lights are installed and the timing on some light signals are changed, the study suggested."

On L-3, a story about a celebration by the 35 Plaza shopping center on Route 4 has many readers wondering why Sykes has never assigned stories on how downtowns in Hackensack, Englewood and Teaneck have weathered the recession.

Stale obit filler

Sykes apparently had no local news for L-5 today and decided to plug the hole with one of the longest wire-service obituaries I've ever seen, filling two full columns. Who died? 

Anita Bryant's former husband -- a month ago.

Correction needed

I called Picnic Garden in Englewood Cliffs today after reading Restaurant Reviewer Elisa Ung's Sunday column, which reported the expensive Korean buffet "offers about a dozen varieties of raw, marinated meats ... and seafood that you ... grill at your table."

I was told seafood -- shrimp, crab and squid -- is available only at dinner for from $26.95 (Monday to Thursday) to $29.95 per adult and $13 for children.

That means the family of four adults and three children shown in an F-6 photo would pay $146.80 for dinner before tax and tip.

Picnic Garden isn't the "good value" Ung claims, especially if you don't eat meat.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Sunday, February 26, 2012

'I'll always have Paris,' top editor says

Paris Sunset from the Louvre window
The Louvre Museum in Paris.

When Editor Marty Gottlieb retires from journalism, he'll always be able to look back with pride to his years at The New York Times, including his editorship of the Paris-based International Herald Tribune.

I can see him sipping a glass of vintage Bordeaux and sighing, "I'll always have Paris."

But if he keeps turning out front pages like the one in The Record today, it's unlikely he'll ever say, "I'll always have Woodland Park."

I can't think of a bigger waste of space than the overlong Page 1 story on how Giants player Victor Cruz is enriching himself with endorsement and book deals after the team's victory in the Super [Toilet] Bowl.

I don't see anything about an endorsement that would have real meaning for Cruz, an unwed father who pulled himself up from a poor Paterson neighborhood: a reliable brand of condoms.

Odd couple

And what was Gottlieb, who is 64, thinking when he created the Odd Couple who reported and wrote the Cruz story -- local obituary writer Jay Levin and sports writer Art Stapleton?

At least Gottlieb saved part of the front page for a non-profit expose from Staff Writer Harvy Lipman and two stories on Governor Christie's proposed budget and income-tax cut.

But I'm certain "RINO" is a reference to Christie's ballooning waistline, not a criticism of his conservative credentials (see A-4 photo).

And Gottlieb certainly won't ever wax nostalgic about Editor Liz Houlton's news copy editors, judging from a photo caption on A-3 today that doesn't tell readers anything about what is going on in the photo.

Racist layout

Was it Gottlieb or head Assignment Editor Deirdre Sykes who decided to lead today's Local section with the thefts of unlocked luxury vehicles (L-1) and bury an upbeat feature on Jordan Coleman, 16, an African-American Hackensack High School filmmaker (L-6)?

If anything, Road Warrior John Cichowski's same-old Black Hole pothole awards on L-1 should have been buried or spiked. He's the ultimate black hole on the staff.

On L-3 today -- in contrast to Cichowski's car-centric coverage -- transportation reporter Karen Rouse has a rare commuting story, exploring NJ Transit's regressive policy on allowing riders to bring bicycles onto platforms and trains. 

Good job

Staff Writer James M. O'Neill saves L-1 with his bright, well-written rendition of a onetime Local section staple: a local barber who seems to go on forever.

Of course, I would have liked it even more if O'Neill explained how South Hackensack barber Tony Joe D'Ambrosio and his customers have been able to reach their 80s and 90s on a diet of McDonald's, pull-pork sandwiches and tiramisu. 

Only the trite headline lets down readers. It's likely a story this good wasn't handled by Sykes or one of her incompetent assignment-desk minions, Dan Sforza, Christina Joseph and Rich Whitby. 

Out to lunch

In Better Living, Restaurant Reviewer Elisa Ung's column errs on the pricing policy at most Korean barbecue restaurants, where customers who want to cook meat or seafood on the table are required to pay for a minimum of two orders -- a total of $50 to $60 or more (F-1).

Such a restaurant is a better value than Picnic Garden buffet in Englewood Cliffs, where each person pays $26.95 to $29.95 for dinner, because three or four people can share a meal at a traditional barbecue restaurant.

Seeing the light

In Opinion, an editorial urges extension of NJ Transit's light-rail service to Leonia, Englewood and Tenafly -- contradicting several years of negative news coverage from Sykes' assignment desk (O-1).

Last Sunday's paper

Staff Writers Colleen Diskin and Rebecca D. O'Brien, and three staff photographers did a beautiful job on Whitney Houston's funeral on Page 1 last Sunday.

On L-1, the Road Warrior column continued to rely on readers' e-mails, showing once again Cichowski long ago ran out of energy to do any original reporting.

No Hackensack news appeared in Sykes' Local section.

In Business, Your Money's Worth Columnist Kevin DeMarrais explained to puzzled consumers that Tropicana quickly stopped using banned orange juice from Brazil in its Pure Premium product and added the phrase "100% pure Florida Orange Juice" to labels.

On the Opinion front, couldn't news Columnist Mike Kelly find anything else to write about than Jeremy Lin, the Chinese-American pro basketball player everyone is sick of hearing about?

I enjoyed Staff Writer Kathleen Lynn's Japan story on the front of Travel, but wonder why she didn't mention restaurant meals or food safety in the aftermath of the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis.

Readers are familiar with all of Travel Editor Jill Schensul's food phobias, but this omission is ridiculous.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Utility pole news undercuts new editor

A utility pole in South San Francisco, California.
Every North Jersey utility pole has a special place in the heart of Editor Deirdre Sykes, who is determined to chronicle their demise with photos in The Record's Local section.

Editor Marty Gottlieb delivers another strong front page in The Record today, but the Local news section's continued reliance on photos of vehicles hitting utility poles makes a mockery of his efforts.

Head Assignment Editor Deirdre Sykes and her incompetent flunkies have run numerous photos of fender benders, roll overs and vehicles damaging utility poles as fillers in the Local section in a desperate scramble to find local news.

Sykes, her minions and her local columnists, Mike Kelly and John Cichowski, are the personification of laziness, and they seem little changed since Gottlieb arrived last month from The New York Times.

A utility pole in Englewood Cliffs apparently was so revered that Sykes ordered her layout editor to place a  small photo and some text on L-1, directing readers to the earth-shaking news on L-3.

There, readers find a blown-up photo of an SUV and the pole, which "took a beating in an accident on Hudson Terrace in Englewood Cliffs on Friday," according to the caption.

Gee whiz.

Ring worm

Also on L-3, a story on Jay Patel, a Mahwah millionaire who allegedly cut down 221 trees on a neighbor's lot to improve his view, doesn't say whether the judge can order him strung up from any remaining branches in the vicinity.

There is no Hackensack news today.

Exposing Christie

The respected Standard & Poors rating agency exposes Governor Christie's voodoo budget economics, saying his revenue projections are much too rosy (A-1).

The story suggests Christie's proposal to cut income taxes will form a major plank in his re-election campaign next year.

A story on A-3 reports the governor wants to loot a Clean Energy Fund to the tune of $210 million to help him balance the budget, which would give a big tax cut to millionaires.

Old wives' tales

Back on Page 1, a story on streamlining elder-care services continues The Record's heavy coverage of seniors who are destitute and eager to stand in line for free lunches.

The paper basically ignores all of the wealthy seniors in Bergen County, as well as older drivers who need information on where they can go to improve their driving skills.

Three embarrassing corrections appear on A-2 today.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Friday, February 24, 2012

Editors tug on readers' heartstrings

Lauren Bacall
Bogart to Bacall: "Baby, hold my gun!"

For the third day in a row, The Record explores the relationship between a young Korean art student and the boyfriend who allegedly used his car to kill her after he "discovered" she was "seeing someone else."

Could there be a more touching portrait of Aena Hong, who is shown in a Page 1 photo today at the Palisades Park Library, where she painted a mural and took English lessons?

Look at that angelic face. But why did Editor Marty Gottlieb put the story, written by former Hackensack reporter Monsy Alvarado, on the front page? 

What begins as a profile deteriorates into a blow-by-blow retelling of the ups and downs of her relationship with Charles J. Ann, 26, who was charged with murder this week.

Many of the interviews echo those published in a front page story on Wednesday. 

Ridiculous quote

Look at that silly quote from Steve Cavallo, the library's program coordinator: "The saddest thing is that she looked like a person who enjoyed life."

What is that look exactly? And if she didn't enjoy life, would her death at 25 be easier to take? 

And would The Record profile the victim if she was a Hispanic woman from Hackensack or an African-American woman from Paterson? It's doubtful.

Finally, the photo caption on A-8, the continuation page, commits a common error of saying the library mural was painted "by slaying victim Aena Hong." Did she come back from the grave?

Another A-1 story today -- on Governor Christie's school-aid proposals -- isn't clear on whether all of his previous education cuts would be restored in this budget. 

Driven journalist

On the front of head Assignment Editor Deirdre Sykes' Local section, the Road Warrior column rises to a new level of irrelevance, relating the experiences of a Wayne man who is "North Jersey's chauffeur to the stars."

Any moron can drive a limousine, so why does Stew Resmer deserve an entire column in The Record? And when is Staff Writer John Cichowski going to get off his ass and write about commuting problems?

Hackensack readers will search in vain for any news of their city. On the other hand, police and court stories appear on almost every page of Local today.

But, hey, be thankful. How many times do you get an anecdote about actress Lauren Bacall in The Record's Local news section? 

Did you ever hear the one about when Bacall was married to actor Humphrey Bogart? She leaned out an apartment window and called down to the street, "Hump-free, hump-free," and three men ran up to her room.

Or, how he got so involved in preparing for movie roles, he'd awake in the middle of the night and say to her, "Baby, hold my gun!" 

Stomach turning

Two restaurant reviews appear in the Better Living tab today, but I had a hard time getting through them.

I've had fondue once in my life and certainly have no interest in repeating the experience at the pricey Westwood spot called The Melting Pot. 

The last time I saw the reviewer, Elisa Ung, she was pudgy (in 2008). Can you imagine what she looks like now, given her obsession with dessert, including the chocolate fondue with cake she sampled for this piece?

In Eating Out on $50, free-lancer Jeffrey Page doesn't explain what makes the salmon he ordered at Fish of the C's kosher and why he was charged so much for it in a small storefront restaurant in Teaneck. 

The fool paid $20 for artificially colored farmed salmon and never asked why he wasn't being served wild-caught fish. And he really blew his $50 budget for two by ordering cheesecake.

Isn't anyone at The Record watching their weight and their cholesterol levels? 

Enhanced by Zemanta

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Editors try to sell Christie tax cut

Governor of New Jersey at a town hall in Hills...
Governor Christie 

Christie plays salesman

That headline on the front page of The Record today seems to be a couple of years overdue. Hasn't Governor Christie been trying to sell snake oil to middle-class taxpayers since he took office more than two years ago?

The editors seem intent on selling Christie's proposed 10 percent tax cut (over three years) and helping him shift attention away from rising property taxes and his broken campaign promise to lower them.

Columnist Charles Stile even has the nerve -- on Page 1 today -- to call the plan "populism."

Here's one definition of "populism" I found on the Internet:

"A political philosophy supporting the rights and power of the people in their struggle against the privileged elite."

That Stile is such a moron, and Editor Liz Houlton's news copy editors are no better, failing to catch that huge contradiction. 

Cut Stile

Christie has catered to the "privileged elite" -- many of whom support him -- since he took office, vetoing the millionaires' tax, refusing to raise the gasoline tax on their gas guzzlers, and on and on.

Christie's plan to cut income taxes will benefit the wealthy far more than the middle class, yielding only an $80 savings for someone earning $50,000 a year.

When is Editor Marty Gottlieb going to clean house and get rid all of the paper's tired columnists -- Stile, Mike Kelly, John Cichowski and Bill Ervolino  -- and their tired editors?

Senior road kill

Over at the lazy assignment desk run by Editor Deirdre Sykes, her flunkies have become experts at rewriting press releases, such as the report on senior drivers and traffic fatalities (A-4).

The report recommends more driver education to keep seniors safe, but incredulously, the story mentions only one program, in Midland Park.

Sykes leads her Local section today with another story about Charles J. Ann, the Fort Lee man from South Korea who is charged with killing his girlfriend on Monday, student Aena Hong, by knocking her down with his car and repeatedly running her over (L-1).

The allegation only adds to the negative image of Asian drivers.


The main element on the front of Local is an Ash Wednesday story with a photo of an Episcopal  priest providing "ashes to go" to a commuter who is about to board a bus in Clifton, under a bright headline: 


Unfortunately, the headline only serves to remind readers of how little mass-transit coverage ever gets into the Woodland Park daily, including the Road Warrior column.

Wrong address

The only Hackensack news in Local is a crime story (L-3), but in Better Living, a new restaurant on Prospect Avenue is featured in a highly promotional Starters column that amounts to free advertising (F-1).

The writer, Joyce Venezia Suss, incorrectly says Marrone's 160 is at "160 Prospect St.," but the data box with the column has "160 Prospect Ave."

The pricey restaurant serves one heart-stopping dish: filet mignon topped with blue cheese. 

Suss doesn't say whether any of the meat or poultry served there is naturally raised, despite entree prices of $16.95 to $36.95.
Enhanced by Zemanta

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Editors love Asian murder case

Jeremy Lin
Jeremy Lin

 I question why the editors led The Record today with a sensational murder case instead of the governor's budget address, but came away impressed with the exhaustive reporting by at least six staffers.

At the same time, the Page 1 story of the Monday afternoon slaying should have been in the paper Tuesday. Instead, the lazy assignment desk run by Editor Deirdre Sykes took its sweet time assembling the sordid tale. 

After reading all of the interviews with doormen, witnesses and others in North Jersey and Queens -- plus soaking up details of the Fort Lee crime scene -- I wonder why none of that was done for another sensational case.

Black v. Korean

Since the fatal police shooting of Malik Williams of Garfield on Dec. 10, the Woodland Park daily has published numerous stories that struggled to go beyond the prosecutor's press releases.

It took the family's lawyer and an independent autopsy to reveal that police shot the 19-year-old man twice in the back.

Could The Record's lack of effort in the Williams case be explained by him having been an African-American suspect who ran out of police headquarters and hid in a garage? 

And did the editors knock themselves out in the Fort Lee case because the couple involved -- Charles J. Ann and Aena Hong -- are Korean? 

Only Sykes and Editor Marty Gottlieb know the answers to those questions.

Media insanity

Indeed, if you're not a sports fan, you might think coverage of the Ann-Hong case is just an extension of the media hysteria over Jeremy Lin, the Chinese-American professional basketball phenom.

And if you're not a sports fan, the so-called Linsanity only conjures up all the negatives about China -- from human rights violations to the hundreds of thousands of American jobs exported to that country to the attempted suicide of workers in the plant that makes the highly praised iPhone.

Selling out again

The Page 1 news story on Governor Christie's proposed budget seems straightforward enough, but would you get a load of the upbeat editorial on A-8 -- it could have been written by the GOP bully's spin doctors.

The headline over the editorial: 

Happy days
Christie's budget increases spending

What mindless drivel from Editorial Page Editor Alfred P. Doblin.

Nowhere will readers find any discussion of the relentless increase in property taxes since Christie took office two years ago as the governor successfully shifts the media's short attention span to his proposed income-tax cut.

A photo with the editorial shows Christie extending three fingers on his right hand. Appropriately, one of them is the middle finger.


There's Hackensack news on the front of Sykes' Local section for a change today, but Road Warrior John Cichowski continues to beat a dead horse with another column about "Tanker Turn" -- a sharp curve that has proven to be the undoing of many lead-footed tractor-trailer drivers (L-1).

What continues to mystify readers is what this turn has to do with the commuting issues Cichowski is supposed to deal with.

Utility pole news

The lead story on the Local front continues to explore all of the official objections to the proposed extension of light rail to Leonia, Englewood and Tenafly, where Publisher Stephen A. Borg lives.

Sykes' assignment lackeys have yet to ask reporters to interview officials and commuters in the towns that have had light-rail service for many years.

The assignment minions worked overtime on Tuesday, judging from the photo on L-3 today -- the latest installment of utility pole news. It's hard to believe this was the only photo available for that page.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

At least readers have the recycling bin

NEWARK, NJ - FEBRUARY 18:  Recording artist Al...
Image by Getty Images via @daylife
The Record goofed big time on the "expected" site of Whitney Houston's funeral in Newark.

Returning from a week in California, I climbed into a limo at John F. Kennedy International Airport at close to midnight on Monday and stared at the headline and big color photo on the front page of The Record, which the driver had placed on the back seat.

I was exhausted from the long flight, and it was enough to put me instantly to sleep.

A near-empty Bergen County 911 dispatching center made a terrible photo for the paper's premier page, and the story about the slow process of centralizing emergency response wasn't much better.

Loose change

I guess not much has changed at the Woodland Park daily, despite the arrival of a veteran New York Times editor to run the newsroom last month. 

As I separated the advertising and Sports sections from news and features, I consoled myself that at least I could recycle all this wasted newsprint.

The only real news on the front page today is rising gasoline prices, but that story is just catching up to the hikes North Jersey drivers have seen in the past couple of weeks.

In San Francisco, a station on Ocean Avenue in the Ingleside neighborhood raised a gallon of regular by 9 cents overnight, followed by a 6-cent increase the next day, bringing the price to $4.05. 

Today, at my Shell station on Cedar Lane in Teaneck, $3.59 a gallon for regular seems like a bargain. 

What will Editor Marty Gottlieb do when gasoline sails over $4 a gallon in North Jersey -- devote the entire front page to the news?

Christie apologist

Also on Page 1 today is another limp-weiner political column from Staff Writer Charles Stiles, who waits until the continuation page to explain that Governor Christie's bullshit plan to cut income taxes will mean jack to the middle class.

Stiles also seems to conveniently forget that Christie was elected on a platform that promised to cut property -- not income -- taxes.

In head Assignment Editor Deirdre Sykes' Local section, I see more Northvale, Fort Lee and Bogota news.

On L-3, the Hackensack reporter, Stephanie Akin, writes about a film festival sponsored by an African-American civics club. 

In Better Living, a story on the beginning of Lent was assigned to a reporter who apparently knows nothing about the wonders of wild-caught seafood, judging from how hard she pushes McDonald's crappy Filet-O-Fish (F-1). 

Monday's paper

I don't see any Hackensack news in Monday's newspaper. I haven't looked over all of the papers delivered since Feb. 13, so don't know whether other Hackensack stories have run recently.

Columnist Mike Kelly must have run out of ideas, devoting an entire column to a Haworth teen who collected nearly $1,000 for cancer research (L-1).

Sunday's paper

Most of Sunday's front page was devoted to the funeral service for Whitney Houston at New Hope Baptist Church in Newark under the headline:

Houston comes home

Unfortunately, that headline duplicated a Page 1 headline that ran only five days before over what turned out to be an embarrassing error -- a story that reported the Prudential Center was expected to be the site of the funeral.

comes home
for funeral

That headline last Tuesday from Editor Liz Houlton's dysfunctional news copy desk doesn't even tell the story, which apparently was pulled out of thin air by Staff Writer John Brennan, who beats the sports-business beat to death. 

Brennan cited "sources familiar with the arrangements" in reporting the Prudential Center had been chosen for the funeral. I guess he has unreliable sources.

The big question is why Gottlieb or any other editor takes Brennan seriously and continues to put his stories on Page 1.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Editors discover abandoned city

Whitney Houston

Half of The Record's front page today is covered by the same-old coverage of Camden -- in a rare instance of the paper sending a reporter and photographer to the impoverished city. 

But readers won't find the real story -- why Camden was abandoned by state government and the media decades ago. 

Columnist Mike Kelly plays crack houses, the flight of industry, crime, poverty and unemployment like violins -- but hasn't all of this been reported many times before (A-1 and A-6)? 

And doesn't North Jersey have its own Camden in Paterson? Why just cover breaking news there? Why not dig under the surface for why Paterson is allowed to fail.

Recall all the stories portraying Paterson as a center of drugs and prostitution that ran when Francis "Frank" Scandale was editor and head Assignment Editor Deirdre Sykes was his bitch.

It's not surprising Kelly doesn't have the balls to explore why Camden's minority residents have been so totally rejected by society. 

Recall his repugnance at the influx of gay couples who were reviving Asbury Park when he was sent there with a photographer in 2000. He never mentioned the renewal in his extensive report.

Resort's obituary

Instead, his obituary for Asbury Park covered three newspaper pages in The Sunday Record on Aug. 6, 2000.

On the same exact day, an upbeat cover story in The New York Times' New Jersey section reported that urban homosexual men and women were leading the way in reviving the run-down resort, drawn by affordable, stylish homes and gay clubs. 

One photo showed two women on the beach with their arms around each other.

The two stories were like night and day, with Kelly reporting conditions that had existed for a decade or more, and The Times breaking the story of the resort's turnaround.

Total letdown

Today's Sunday edition of The Record is a total letdown, including another repetitive Local section from Sykes. 

After reading about the heart-breaking loss of singer Whitney Houston at only 48 (A-1), nothing else seems interesting or compelling, and the news and Better Living columnists sound stale.

It's lucky The Record had The Star-Ledger's excellent obituary of Houston to run on the front page -- displacing some of the briefs in the off-lead position -- because it's unlikely any of the weekend editors on duty Saturday night were up to whipping together such a piece.

Taking a break

Eye on The Record will return next week.

I'll be reading and publishing comments until then, and would like to hear first impressions of Editor Marty Gottlieb, who came on board three weeks ago.