Monday, February 11, 2013

No end to Page 1, Road Warrior screw-ups

Repairs to this house in Hackensack's Fairmount section have dragged on for more than 5 years, and the city's Building Department seems powerless to do anything about it.

The Record editors haven't rested from covering the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, but serious errors continue to appear in stories and columns, including today's Page 1 report on the impact of new flood maps approved by Governor Christie.

The caption for the photo that dominates A-1 today states incorrectly that "changes in flood maps have some homeowners contemplating rebuilding."

As the text of the story makes clear, it's just the opposite: Many homeowners don't want to spend $100,000 to raise their homes or $30,000 more on flood insurance, and may never rebuild.

Where was six-figure Production Editor Liz Houlton or her designated proofer when the most important page of today's paper went to the press? 

John and Sandy

Road Warrior John Cichowski has had his own problems with Sandy, failing in at least two columns to report accurately on how many weeks or months had passed since the superstorm struck on Oct. 29.

That was followed by his inability to read a map when writing about the demolition of an old highway overpass, and reporting incorrectly the work is underway at Routes 3 and 17, when it is, in fact, taking place at Routes 3 and 21.

In Sunday's Road Warrior column, Cichowski blew it again -- this time on the date in 1996 flying ice smashed into the windshield of driver Michael Eastman, killing him.

Cichowski probably has written as many columns about roof snow as any other subject, including potholes, and likely has mentioned Eastman's death at least once every winter since September 2003, when he started writing the column.

So, how can he get this date wrong, and why didn't anyone catch the latest in this comedy of errors?

A reader concerned about the low level of accuracy in the Road Warrior column did some checking, and this is what he found:

"The Road Warrior mistakenly forgets more dates and facts in his Feb. 10 column about vehicle accidents and winter driving safety tips.

"Road Warrior forgot to consult New York Times and Record articles when reporting an incorrect date for a flying-ice accident in 1996 that killed Michael Eastman, and an incorrect anniversary of his death that led to a New Jersey law setting fines for flying ice or failure to remove snow off vehicle rooftops.

"You owe Michael's family a correction of these dates, which should be made in an upcoming Road Warrior column rather than on A-2.
"Misstatement of dates - "On Feb. 6, 1996, ice from a truck on Route 17 in Paramus hit the windshield of Ridgewood's Michael Eastman, a 45-year-old father of two who died from injuries three days later. Saturday [Feb. 9] marked the anniversary of his death."

"FACTS - As The Record reported on the day after the incident and The New York Times subsequently reported, the date of the accident, according to police, was Wednesday, Feb. 7, 1996.  Michael died 3 days later on Saturday, Feb. 10.

"Social Security death records also confirm his date of death as Feb. 10, 1996.
 "You can understand how bad Road Warrior reporting is when you see the incompetent mistakes the copy editors needed to correct in his sloppy article on (Saturday, Feb. 9) that was updated and published today (Feb. 10) in The Record.
"Why did Road Warrior foolishly wonder if people would remove snow from their vehicle rooftops after Friday night's snowstorm? All he had to do was drive around on Saturday to see how many cars and trucks were driving with snow/ice on their roofs.

"Road Warrior did not correct any of the 10 unsafe, potentially illegal or bad advice items in his Dec. 28 column about winter driving tips, and had more bad advice."

But there's more: 

The Sunday Road Warrior column was posted on this past Saturday.

In quoting advice from "Car Talk," Cichowski reported the advice show is on PBS (TV). 

But the fully rehearsed "Car Talk" show is on radio, specifically National Public Radio, and of all people, Cichowski, a former radio reporter, should know that.

A correction was made in the Sunday paper (L-7). But the error continues to appear on

The concerned reader's full e-mail to management can be found at the Facebook page for Road Warrior Bloopers:

Cichowski: Can you turn up the TV?

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