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



  1. How do you not know what is happening to Alan? Does nobody there talk to you? Ask anyone who works there. Surely somebody there is your friend.

  2. Not that I really care. That's the blogger in me.

  3. Can't believe you don't know what's going on there.

  4. Naso directs photographers. Not Sykes.


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