Thursday, January 31, 2013

Page 1 train-crash story is filled with errors

The Record's fender-bender photography staff -- under the direction of head Assignment Editor Deirdre Sykes -- apparently missed this Wednesday morning accident.

The lack of quality control under Production Editor Liz Houlton -- the six-figure supervisor of the copy desk -- is shocking.

When local assignment Editors Deirdre Sykes and Dan Sforza gave Houlton an error-filled story and graphic on a train-truck crash, her clueless copy editors missed all the mistakes, which appear on today's front page.

Let's start with the clunky headline, "Train slams paint truck."

There's no need to say what the truck was carrying, especially if you have to sacrifice the word "into," as in, "Train slams into truck."

Houlton lays an egg

If the truck was carrying chickens, the word would never be used in the headline, because it wouldn't fit.

But that's minor compared with the major errors that appear in the lead paragraph and in the graphic on Page 1.

The long first paragraph tells readers a school crossing guard "was injured by flying debris" after she tried to help a truck driver "as a commuter train barreled toward them."

Of course, the debris didn't start flying until the train hit the truck -- the event missing in the lead paragraph.

And the graphic, labeled "On the track," shows the trailer of the truck straddling the tracks before the driver backed up, even though the text on A-6 says the driver "backed his truck into the crossing."

Houlton's crew screwed up again on L-9, where a headline misspells the name of the Lexus automobile.

Boyfriend charged

With the quick arrest of Michael Brady of Teaneck, the family of murder victims Tam Marie Pitts-Gaddy, 40, and 5-year-old Natasia Gaddy of Englewood may ultimately find justice (A-1).

But what about the residents of Englewood and all of the other towns in North Jersey: Should they expect their police departments to prevent crime?

In 2002, when Nathan L. Johnson was slain execution style during a robbery at his large East Hill home in Englewood, one of The Record's local editors dismissed a staff suggestion the paper look into whether police were doing a good job in safeguarding residents.

On the Local front today, a story reports three Hackensack police officers have agreed to resign after covering up a drunken-driving accident involving one of them (L-1).

The story is another in a nearly unbroken string about the city's Police Department and its convicted former police chief.

Is there anything else going on in Bergen's biggest community?

Illegible signature

Five months after the debut of Signature, Editor Marty Gottlieb has come to his senses and announced the end of the free-standing Thursday section.

Gottlieb decided to "disperse" features and the "Then and Now" column "through the regular daily sections of The Record," his note to readers says.

Signature, which purported to "define life in North Jersey," took away from an already weak local-news section.

Gottlies doesn't say what will become of Alan Finder, the Times pal he hired to edit Signature.

Changes on River Street?

A construction trailer and other equipment have been set up in the visitors parking lot at the old Hackensack headquarters of The Record.

A permit for the trailer was issued today, the city's Building Department said, but there has been no request for a demolition permit.

The trailer is in marked contrast to all of the dumpsters that have been seen on the property since the daily newspaper and North Jersey Media Group moved out in 2009.

No end to problems

The Road Warrior Column on Wednesday prompted a concerned reader to send another e-mail to management:

"The Road Warrior continues to baffle people with his mistaken, contradictory, and out-of-date reporting of published facts about tolls on Port Authority and NY MTA bridges for trucks/vans and NJ statutes/bills in response to readers' questions in his January 30 column.

"Road Warrior continues to report false items based on his inability to comprehend official information and perform basic math calculations.

"The Record's integrity continues to suffer when it allows the Road Warrior to report items that are contradictory to several recent Road Warrior columns and Record articles, and items that are made up by the Road Warrior.

"These practices NEED TO STOP.

"Road Warrior closed out January with 11 of his 12 columns riddled with his clueless, misleading, or false statements, wrong advice, and crazy, unsafe, or illegal comments from others. "

The full e-mail can be seen at: 

Bell tolls for Road Warrior


Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Christie is trying to bury the working class

English: Chris Christie at the 2011 Time 100 gala.
Governor Christie says minimum-wage workers can go eat dirt.  (Wikipedia)

Governor Christie unleashed a double salvo at New Jersey's working class on Monday.

First, he asked the state's highest court to let him decide how much affordable housing is built, and then he told low-wage workers they don't deserve a $1.25 hike in the $7.25 minimum wage.

Instead, Christie wants them to beg for a dollar more over three years (L-7).

Burying the veto

The Record put the affordable housing story on Monday's Page 1, but tried to soften the GOP bully's selfishness by burying the wage veto on the first Business page today (inside Local).

The intent, of course, is to show wealthy small-business owners -- who read the Business section-- that Christie is repaying them for all their financial support.

More stale Stile

The sub-headline on the Charles Stile column today says Sen. Barbara Buono isn't the "savior" the Democrats are hoping for in a bid to defeat Christie in November (A-1).

But Democrats don't need a "savior." 

All Buono has to do is to point out all of Christie's failures in his first term, as well as the sorry state of the New Jersey economy -- which is what The Record can't bring itself to do. 

And she is a lot better looking than him.

He loves Sandy

You can bet the morbidly obese Christie will be just about humping President Obama during the signing of the $50.5 billion Sandy aid package (A-1).

After four years of mismanagment, Christie is pinning his re-election hopes on what he's done since Oct. 29, when the superstorm hit the state.

Rabbi prays for break

Head Assignment Editor Deirdre Sykes and her deputy, Dan Sforza, gives top billing today to Rabbi Shmuley Boteach's on-again, off-again attempt to skip out of his $62,000 property tax bill in Englewood (L-1).

The wealthy city, which has a largely minority school system, could certainly use Boteach's taxes. 

After a long stretch of Dean Street through downtown was torn up to install pipes or gas lines or whatever, the city can't afford to repave the unusually bumpy road.  

A story about Teaneck also appears on the Local front, but Hackensack residents come up short for yet another day.

The weather photo on L-2 today didn't take much work:  

The snow-covered road is not far from the Woodland Park newsroom where Sykes' and Sforza's loud snores reverberated.

Wings and receivers

On the Better Living front, the report on a shortage of chicken wings doesn't explain why supermarkets charge more for them than bigger and meatier thighs and legs (BL-1).

What was the point of Monday's overlong front-page sports story reporting that pro football players who took hit after hit during their careers are now in constant pain? 

Road Warrior errors 
"The Road Warrior does a disservice with his mistaken reporting and misleading negative distortions in his Jan. 27 column about the Passaic Street train station in Garfield," a concerned reader says in another e-mail to The Record.

"Road Warrior's negative distortions about the neighborhood around the immediate vicinity of the Garfield station made it seem like an abandoned, trash strewn area when, in fact, it also has many positive features, including the Alfred J. Thomas Home for Veterans,barber shops, nail salons, a coffee shop, a popular restaurant, Barcelona's, and Platter World, a record shop, both of which had positive write-ups in The Record.
"As always, the more outrageous an unsafe or illegal practice is by a contributor to the story, the better chance it will be reported by the ghoulish Road Warrior as if nothing is wrong. 

"Big planning dreams aside, if The Record and Road Warrior can agree on how to keep his columns mistake free, maybe next year you'll figure out how to have columns focused on more relevant facts to pedestrians, drivers, and commuters."

See the full e-mail to management at:

Lots of heat but no light

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Sunday, January 27, 2013

Travel editor to Korean-Americans: Bite me!

One of the newer restaurants in Palisades Park, a Korean-American enclave that might as well be on the far side of the moon, as far as The Record's travel editor is concerned.

What could Bergen County's Korean-Americans possibly have done to Jill Schensul, the ditzy, jet-lagged travel editor at The Record of Woodland Park?

Schensul has been dissing Koreans for years, refusing to run any travel stories about their native country in her thin section (only four pages today).

In today's cover story on immigrant enclaves, she goes out of her way to ignore the bustling Korean-American business district in nearby Palisades Park,  while praising others as far away as Washington, D.C. (T-1).

Dog eaters?

Schensul is a vegetarian and an animal lover who has never hidden her dislike for Koreans, because they allegedly eat dog meat in their home country.

In today's piece, she tells readers "to bring an appetite" and "an open mind," but continues to exhibit a closed mind when it comes to Korean culture and its largely vegetarian cuisine.  

Sadly, she is the kind of dishonest journalist -- think Road Warrior John Cichowski and Columnists Mike Kelly, Charles Stile and Alfred P. Doblin -- who seems to find a roost at The Record.

All you have to do is look at the haggard woman's dated column photo on the Travel front today to see her dishonesty.    

As for today's Sunday edition, it's another bomb from Editor Marty Gottlieb, who gives us a front page weighed down by think pieces on gun control and federal disaster aid that are guaranteed to send you back to bed.

Another Kelly mystery

Then, Kelly's A-1 column goes on an on about another mystery few people care about -- whether poet Joyce Kilmer wrote "Trees" while living in Mahwah.

This ranks up there with his endless column on the identity of an elderly woman who was rescued from ankle-deep flood waters in Little Ferry during Superstorm Sandy. 

Who is man in photo?

A photo of "Alex Michelini" runs on Page 1 with Kelly's column, but who is he?

Readers have to plow through some 20 paragraphs before they find out on A-6 that Michelini, 75, lives in Mahwah and "decided to devote part of his retirement to tracking down the origins of Kilmer's poem."

Talk about seniors having nothing to do after they retire.

Kelly identifies Michelini as a former New York Daily News reporter, but in the 1970s, I worked as an Elizabeth-based stringer for the New Jersey edition of the News and Michelini was my editor.

He is not only one of the shortest editors I have ever met, he had one of the foulest mouths.

I had to "sell" my stories to the tough-talking Michelini, who wouldn't accept just anything, and I wasn't paid unless my reporting was published.

I recall he paid for a few paragraphs about an overweight woman who sued her landlord after she sat down on her apartment toilet and fell through to the floor below. 

And when I called and asked if he wanted something on a New Jersey priest who had been found dead of a heart attack in a Manhattan brownstone, Michelini wanted to know if the clergyman had been "screwing" a young boy.

Chief space filler

Cichowski, the Road Warrior, is prized for his ability to fill space -- three times a week -- in the Local section of head Assignment Editor Deirdre Sykes and her incompetent deputy, Dan Sforza, who also rely on photos of minor accidents (L-2).

Today, Cichowski's column is devoted to a single NJ Transit rail station, in Garfield. That follows another whole column devoted to the Teterboro train station.

One station, one column. 

Maybe, he'll eventually get around to the Anderson Street station in Hackensack that burned down several years ago and was replaced by a bus shelter.  

The Broken Record

As for Hackensack news, The Record is known as The Broken Record, today giving city readers the third major story about the new police director, Michael Mordaga, since Wednesday (L-1).

Today's story says Mordaga takes over Feb. 4 from interim Police Chief Tomas Padilla, who retires Jan. 31.

So, who runs the department for three days?

Food for thought

On the Business front, the thousands of readers who buy organic and naturally raised food can ignore the  Your Money's Worth column, which doesn't recognize their existence (B-1).

A second Kelly column appears on the Opinion front today, discussing the case of Jennifer O'Brien, a Paterson teacher who was sacked "almost two years ago" for a Facebook reference to her students as "future criminals" (O-1).

Why is Kelly writing about this now? Has he run out of ideas? 

On the Better Living front, why is chief Restaurant Reviewer Elisa Ung writing about chefs who smoke, in a Sunday column -- The Corner Table -- that is supposed to discuss issues facing restaurant goers (B-1)?