Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Growing diversity, but not in the newsroom

The City of Hackensack may declare about 20 acres along River Street, owned by North Jersey Media Group, as an area in need of rehabilitation. The Borgs haven't disclosed their plan for the property, once the headquarters of NJMG and The Record.

A black president fills his inaugural speech with a bold message of inclusion. Meanwhile, New Jersey is growing more diverse by the day.

The only place that resists change is the Woodland Park newsroom of The Record, where five white male columnists toil away at making their tired prose seem fresh.

All five wrote columns on Sunday, leaving most readers speechless. 

Three of them have been column writing for about 20 years each. God save us.

News turnstile

On Page 1, political columnist Charles Stile switched from finding 20 ways to praise Governor Christie to discussing President Obama's second term and how the "hope for change still runs deep."

Stile is back on the front page today, declaring that Obama's inaugural speech signals a "liberal era of government."

Gee. Both columns are stale; in fact, they could have been written four years ago.

Mass-transit hater

In more than 9 years of posing as the Road Warrior and writing a so-called commuting column, Staff Writer John Cichowski has never ridden a bus or a train and reported on the quality of service.

On Sunday, he took a positive development at a rail station in Teterboro -- the installation of an 8-foot fence to prevent people from getting killed by trains -- and turned it into a negative (Local front).

A reader concerned about the lack of accuracy in Road Warrior columns had this to say:

"The Road Warrior's Jan. 20 column manages to deceive someone included in his story, as well as commuters who want better access to the Teterboro station.

"How the Road Warrior also mangles and distorts a well-known Henny Youngman punch line is simply beyond belief to admirers of the comedian.

"That reminds me. The Road Warrior NEVER listens to readers if they say they have facts that contradict his unsubstantiated stories. At least, the Road Warrior thinks that's what they said.

"Let us hope this commuter access problem can be solved with a better solution, which has already been proposed, that was NOT among the complex or unsafe solutions reported in the column. "

See the reader's full comments at the Facebook page for Road Warrior Bloopers:   

Butchering Henny Youngman

Frugal journalist

Kevin DeMarrais writes the paper's only consumer column from an intensely personal point of view, but that means he doesn't recognize the growing trend of organic and other naturally raised food.

On Sunday, his column discussed how he got a replacement for a malfunctioning camera, and told a tale of woe about buying a box of crackers for holiday parties and finding "that nearly every cracker was broken" (B-1).

Jeez. How trivial can he get? I'm wondering why the cheapskate serves his guests crackers in the first place.  

Readers get crumbs

What did that great journalist, Mike Kelly, fill his Sunday column with (O-1)?

He calls it "a tale of happenstance and fragility" -- a squirrel bit into a line and knocked out power to residents of Teaneck, where Kelly lives.

Kelly followed with a column on Monday's Local front -- about a pair of eagles, "the saga of Al and Alice" -- but this isn't just another animal story.

Kelly tells readers this is nothing less than the collision of "America's national symbol" and the "fundamental American right to control development of their land."

In truth, his columns are for the birds.  

A laughing stock 

Last but not least in this sad lineup of white male columnist is Bill Ervolino, who readers laugh at, not with.

His Sunday column was about a minor car accident involving a friend named Chicklet and three others involving Ervolino himself (BL-3). 

Hilarious, right?

The Record once had diverse voices in its news columns -- an African-American, a Cuban exile, a woman.

But Francis "Frank" Scandale, the last editor, put an end to that, leaving readers with these five turkeys.

Broken English  

Production Editor Liz Houlton, supervisor of the copy desk, continues to mangle the English language in headlines and captions.

"Eke" and "eking" are used with "out," as in "he is barely eking out a living," but on Sunday's Page 1, Houlton came up with this awkward sub-headline:

"Sandy's trailer park victims barely eking by"  

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