Saturday, April 13, 2013

Cheating local readers: Murder plots! Rutgers scandal!

Colorful train schedules have replaced black-and-white message boards at Penn Station in Manhattan. Commuters keep their eyes on the boards, which post NJ Transit track assignments about 10 minutes before departure, then race to get a seat on the train, giving new meaning to the term "rush hour."
Scenes from New Jersey history adorn the NJ Transit waiting hall at Penn Station.

Washington crossing the Delaware, above, and the manufacture of a submarine in Paterson, below, are among the mobile history lessons behind glass that distract commuters from the ordeal of riding on packed trains and reading about nothing but drivers three days a week in The Record's Road Warrior column.

Are you sick yet of reading about Georgios Spyropoulos, the Tick Tock Diner manager whose plate is full of court hearings, an indictment and, possibly, a lurid trial on charges he tried to hire a hit man to kill the boss?

Editor Marty Gottlieb has run this crime of the century on Page 1 three days running, along with continuing coverage of the brouhaha at Rutgers University.

Has anybody read even a fraction of the hundreds of thousands of words reporting the fallout from a video showing the abusive basketball coach, Mike Rice?

Here are two more cases of how irrelevant to most people are the "big stories" Gottlieb and other media leaders chase to electrify their meaningless lives. 

Christie budget plan

Sadly, all of this sensational coverage has distracted readers from hearings on another conservative budget proposal from Governor Christie, who continues to screw the middle and working classes (A-3 today, A-4 on Friday). 

Today's front-page story on the $421,000 payout to John B. Wolf, ousted as Rutgers' top lawyer, suggest that the legal profession -- from attorneys to judges to lawmakers -- is at the root of what is really wrong with our society (A-1).

One bright spot today is the A-3 story reporting the mugging of convicted felon Sharpe James, who held up residents when he was mayor of Newark.

Dissing Hackensack

But local readers again get the shaft.

Today, Hackensack readers finally get a story on the six people vying for seats in the Board of Education election on Tuesday (L-1), but the paper has done a far better job covering the school board contest in Englewood (L-7 on Friday).

Head Assignment Editor Deirdre Sykes and her deputy, Dan Sforza, continue to ignore candidate forums leading up to the City Council election on May 14, the most important in decades.

The election could finally free the city -- widely mocked as "Zisaville" -- from the corrosive rule of the Zisa family, including the disgraced and convicted former police chief, Ken "I Am The Law" Zisa, and his cousin, City Attorney Joseph C. Zisa Jr.

On Friday, Hackensack readers found big news of their city on L-6 -- a seven-paragraph story about a cop who needs leg surgery after a drug arrest.

No relief for commuters

The interesting weather photo on L-3 today shows that Staff Photographer Tariq Zehawi hasn't lost his touch despite being ordered by Sykes and Sforza to chase hundreds of ambulances for fender-bender photos they desperately need to fill Local.

The Road Warrior column on the front of Friday's Local section continues to ignore mass transit.

It's the second time Staff Writer John Cichowski has reported on complaints from a few drivers who can't make a right turn at one of North Jersey's thousands of intersections (L-1).

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