Tuesday, December 17, 2013

North Jersey malls are putting violence on sale

The Christmas tree at Penn Station in Manhattan. Is there anything under the tree for commuters from NJ Transit and Governor Christie?


Every shopper can relate to the horror of a successful 30-year-old attorney from Hoboken who was fatally wounded by a gunshot in the head in front of his wife at an upscale mall in Short Hills.

But why is The Record allowing the shopping center's millionaire owners to get away with refusing to discuss security measures (A-1)?

Gunshots are free

That's no problem for the paper's compliant editors and reporters who are not about to alienate the big mall advertisers who keep the Woodland Park daily afloat.

Editor Marty Gottlieb appears to have deliberately tried to distract readers from the security question by focusing the story on a "surge of carjackings" in Essex County.

Security at North Jersey shopping centers doesn't even come up until deep into the Page 1 story today, on the continuation page, where readers are told mall operators "were reluctant to discuss their security arrangements" (A-6). 

Lazy newsroom

But reporters don't have to take no for an answer, if they just get off their asses, go to the malls and report what they see in terms of guards, off-duty police officers and other measures that go beyond apparently useless security cameras.

Instead, The Record today gives lavish coverage on the first Business page to a new 2,000-square-foot lounge for men at Westfield Garden State Plaza (L-8).

The lack of security at the Paramus shopping center allowed a gunman to invade the state's biggest mall on Nov. 4 and fire random shots that panicked shoppers before he committed suicide.

In the wake of that incident, mall officials claimed they had beefed up security, but wouldn't discuss any new measures.

A photo with that story in November showed two patrolling Paramus cops -- armed with nothing more than their service revolvers -- one of them with his hands in his pockets.

Just a band-aid

On the Local front today, a story about Hackensack failing to bill Hackensack University Medical Center for crossing guards misses the big picture (L-1).

The $176,000 the hospital paid the city under a 2008 agreement is chump change compared to the millions in property taxes it doesn't have to pay because of its tax-exempt status.

Naturally, with a hospital employee, Mayor John Labrosse, in charge, nothing will be done to persuade the hospital to compensate the city in lieu of taxes, such as paving streets and buying police cars.

Lost in translation

Can you imagine a more awkward headline phrase than "Japan business" on L-7 today? 

What was wrong with "Japanese firm"? 

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