Saturday, March 9, 2013

Times veteran has been a colossal failure

At 12:30 p.m. Friday, Euclid Avenue in Hackensack was covered with only slush, to the relief of residents who feared driving on streets that hadn't been cleared by city public works plows.

Editor Marty Gottlieb, the Times veteran who took over The Record's Woodland Park newsroom in January 2012, has failed miserably on improving local-news coverage and accuracy.

Gottlieb hasn't even tried to apply the high standards of The New York Times' copy desk to fact-checking, headlines, photo captions or news writing.

As recently as Friday, the front page carried an inaccurate and insensitive headline:

"Suffering of Japan's 'comfort women' honored" 

Of course, the women who were sexually enslaved by the Japanese military during World War II weren't Japanese, but from Korea, China and other countries, and could never by any stretch of the imagination be called "Japan's comfort women."

Covering up mistakes

Compounding the error is the lack of acknowledgement by Gottlieb and Production Editor Liz Houlton, who publish two unrelated corrections on A-2 today.

An L-2 story today reports on the dedication of a second memorial to the victims at the Bergen County Courthouse in Hackensack, and thankfully, Friday's error wasn't repeated.

And who could forget the boneheaded streamer at the top of Page 1 announcing that Rep. Bill Pascrell, D-Paterson -- not Bill Parcells, a former Giants coach -- had been inducted into the pro football Hall of Fame?

That error proved to be a national embarrassment.

'Queen of Errors'

Instead of bidding farewell to Houlton, who is in charge of the clueless copy desk and the paper's proof readers, Gottlieb fired award-winning cartoonist Jimmy Margulies, allegedly to cut expenses.

That disappointed many readers and the staff, who seethe with anger and resentment over Houlton getting a promotion and six-figure salary after she established a reputation as the "Queen of Errors" as head of the features copy desk.

Here is a comment to Eye on The Record:

"I miss the drawings of editorial cartoonist Jimmy Margulies in The Record. He brought a local and state perspective to skewer the politicians and bring about commentary on social issues. The replacement cartoons haven't matched his skills. This week alone, I believe all the cartoons focused only on the sequestration. Maybe since the NY Times has no editorial cartoonist, Marty Gottlieb saw no need for one in-house at his new domain?"

Sykes, Sforza rule

On local-news coverage, Gottlieb has allowed head Assignment Editor Deirdre Sykes and her deputy, Dan Sforza, to shift the focus from such diverse communities as Hackensack, Teaneck and Englewood to Tenafly, Ridgewood and other wealthy towns.

This week's spurt of news from Hackensack (four stories in as many days and today's delightful A-1 story on the clock tower at the Johnson Public Library on Main Street) appears to be a fluke.

Gottlieb, who is in his mid-60s, seems to have taken the job at The Record to ease gently into retirement, leaving the status quo intact.

Today's paper 

Sloppy editing continues on A-3 today in the lead paragraph of a story on the sentencing of a woman with multiple sclerosis.

The first paragraph says she "was wheeled into court on a hospital bed Friday was sentenced to 40 years in prison for the murder of her husband."

This would have worked with the word "who" inserted before "was wheeled into court," or the word "and" instead of "was" in "was sentenced to 40 years."

The Local section today is one of the few without a filler photo of a rollover or other non-fatal accident, allowing readers to enjoy the skills of photo staffers Carmine Galasso, Don Smith, Tariq Zehawi, Kevin R. Wexler, Danielle Parhizkaran and Viorel Florescu.


  1. Taking pictures while driving? Nice.

  2. I was stopped with wipers going, moron.


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