Friday, December 27, 2013

Editors treat NJ Transit rail victims like chopped liver

Sure signs of the holiday season in downtown Englewood are free parking at meters and empty storefronts, above and below. The continuing struggle of Main Streets in North Jersey is a story The Record consistently ignores in favor of lavishly promotional pieces about mall retailers -- apparent payback for the advertising revenue that keeps the Woodland Park daily afloat.


Marty Gottlieb, editor of The Record, couldn't find a real transportation tragedy for today's front page.

So, he took a Road Warrior column about a "near-tragedy," and grabbed the center of Page 1 for the highly exaggerated, error-filled account of a train-truck collision from nearly a year ago (A-1).

If you need a good laugh, check out some of the dramatic language Staff Writer John Cichowski uses to make this accident sound as if the sky fell that day (A-1 and A-6).

Trains kill people

On Oct. 14, reported more than two dozen pedestrians had been killed in 2013 on tracks shared by NJ Transit and Amtrak, setting a pace that could make this year the state's deadliest on the rails in decades.

"Most" were suicides, the Web site reported.

That raises a question Gottlieb and Deputy Assignment Editor Dan Sforza would surely refuse to answer.

Safety measures?

Why isn't Cichowski writing about safety improvements at stations or the deployment of transit cops to prevent more pedestrian tragedies?

The answer is that NJ Transit has consistently kept the media's focus off of the transit agency's responsibility -- until recently blaming the victims and labeling pedestrians who walked on the tracks as "trespassers."

There is no excuse for unprotected track, such as the long stretch down the middle of Railroad Avenue, between Essex and Passaic streets in Hackensack, in a mixed residential-industrial neighborhood lined with homes.

A fence could have prevented a 12-year-old student from walking on the tracks and being killed by a train in 2010 -- in a city that doesn't have school busing.

Hollywood crap

I'm no big fan of Hollywood movies or of Stephen Whitty, the so-called film critic at The Star-Ledger, whose reviews fill The Record's Better Living tabloid of Fridays.

This is a colossal waste of space, but today a headline on BL-2 caught my attention, one apparently written by a moron on the copy desk.

The sub-headline says the film is about Dickens' fling with "a younger actress."

Younger than whom? Ellen Ternan, a teenage actress, is the only one mentioned in the review.

Turkish torture

In the Better Living centerfold, Staff Writer Elisa Ung tortures readers with a tedious account of bad service and sloppy food preparation at Istanbul Cafe & Grill in Fair Lawn (BL-14).

At least one of the servers sounds as if she has gone insane from trying to live on the federal minimum wage for tipped workers -- $2.13 an hour, which hasn't increased in more than 20 years.

This is another full-length review of a mediocre, forgettable restaurant The Record insists on running under the theory that if the paper pays for the insatiable Ung and a friend to have two or three meals, then readers be damned.


  1. Your philosophy to what restaurant reviews should and shouldn't be are very interesting. But they probably explain why you don't have a job like hers.

    1. I did have a job like hers at one time , but I have been retired for more than five years. Frankly, I think she does a poor job. And at one time, she would have rated this Turkish place as poor; she has modified her tone considerably.

    2. The average newspaper reader is 55, so how does it serve them to have a chief restaurant reviewer who is obsessed with dessert and meat, and who eats far more of it than many readers allow themselves because of restrictive diets?

      Do we have an obesity epidemic because food writers like Elisa Ung and the food editor who hired her back in 2007 or 2008 tell readers every day it is OK to eat cheeseburgers, french fries, artery clogging desserts and every other trendy junk food?

      They are supposed to be journalists, not cheerleaders for every new restaurant and hamburger joint.

      I prefer the old system for reviewing restaurants -- appraisals by the food editor and a bunch of freelancers.

  2. The average consumer of news is far younger than 55.

  3. What are you 60? More people click on the website than pick up a paper. Unless her stories aren't online.

    1. What are you 16? Don't you know millions still get their news from newspapers, which are made up of many large pages of
      paper with words and photos printed using ink and delivered to homes and apartments, as well as sold in stores?

      The average age of newspaper readers is 55. Maybe the problem is you can't read.


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