|Uncleared street corners are dangerous for both drivers and pedestrians.|
By VICTOR E. SASSON
The Record's storm coverage today makes it sound as if the hell Governor Christie has made of New Jersey is freezing over.
I like the Page 1 headline -- "Shovels and shivers" -- but are we really living through an "arctic blast"?
The first paragraph says we are experiencing "some of the coldest temperatures in at least three years [italics added]."
And the second paragraph reports "a major storm brought as much as 7 inches of snow" to most of Bergen and Passaic counties on Friday.
Help. I've fallen and I'm buried in snow.
No human dimension
Did you notice the short shrift given "several" poor schmucks who suffered heart attacks "while shoveling in the bitter cold"?
That's it? They are probably older residents, and we all know the editors hate seniors and think of them only as residents of nursing homes and other hard-luck types.
Recall the nearly hysterical pre-storm story by Staff Writer Shawn Boburg that ran on Thursday's L-2:
"Near-blizzard conditions are expected this evening into Friday morning as a double-headed monster of a storm brings sub-zero wind chills, gusts up to 35 miles per hour and snow accumulation of up to 8 inches."
That "monster" must have melted under the brilliant sunshine that turned the snow-covered landscape into a winter wonderland.
On Thursday, Boburg quoted an Accuweather meteorologist, but much of his forecast and the "possibility of power outages" never materialized for the vast majority of North Jersey residents.
On the Local front today, readers learn Deputy Assignment Editor Dan Sforza ordered "The Record's staff of reporters" to "hit the streets for stories from the first storm of 2014."
Those streets turned out to be in only 23 of the 90 or so towns in the circulation area, and the reporters simply ignored the kind of job municipal crews did to make the streets safe for drivers and pedestrians.
The Record has always treated NJ Transit bus riders like chopped liver, but the number of uncleared bus stops I saw today in Bogota, Teaneck and Hackensack -- including the one in front of Sears -- shouldn't be ignored.
Many were blocked by banks of snow like the one that tripped up head Assignment Editor Deirdre Sykes, who fell on her well-padded posterior in the parking lot at The Record's old headquarters on River Street many winters ago.
Staff Writer Hannan Adely contributed two anecdotes from Hackensack, but didn't bother to stray far from Main Street (L-3).
Blame the editors
Covering snowstorms has been a struggle for The Record's assignment editors for decades.
Each storm appears to be a new challenge for the some of the laziest editors in the Western Hemisphere.
They fail miserably to inspire their newsroom staff to hustle and do the legwork reporters and photographers have to do to put themselves in the shoes of readers facing the dangers of a big storm, and its aftermath.
The media obsessively reported that the big snowstorm was the "first test" for Bill De Blasio, the new mayor of New York City, but isn't every storm a test for the so-called leaders of North Jersey's many communities?
The Record's editor, former Timesman Marty Gottlieb, seems powerless to do anything about the paper's mediocre weather coverage.
Today's paper was delivered about 4 hours late, as was Friday's, a testament to the cut-rate system the Borgs have been using for decades.
The first Road Warrior column of the year continues to haunt readers, who realized that Staff Writer John Cichowski again contradicted one of his previous pronouncements.
Cichowski holds himself out as a big expert on driving issues, but he is, in fact, a bumbling idiot, as a concerned reader points out:
"The Road Warrior becomes more and more dangerous to his readers as he repeatedly spouts faulty and incompetent analysis and conclusions, along with his false and clearly mistaken information.
"1. False statements in Wednesday's column: 'If numbers of violations are any measure, enforcement crackdowns have demonstrated their effectiveness in making more people aware of the dangers of driving drunk and failing to fasten seat belts. These offenses [for driving drunk and for not wearing seat belts] each account for roughly DOUBLE THE NUMBER of summonses generated each year by the hand-held cellphone law.'
"CORRECT DATA - The forgetful Road Warrior reported in his Nov. 10 column that the annual number of tickets for driving drunk (38,375) or under the influence of drugs, DUI, was around HALF THE NUMBER of cellphone tickets (81,125), and further stated in that Nov. 10 column:
"'Although these figures represent LESS THAN HALF THE NUMBER of tickets issued for cellphone yakking, DUI — like the seat-belt violation — is considered serious enough to rate high-profile enforcement programs, mainly because substance abuse is considered a main cause of road fatalities.'
"Therefore, the Road Warrior's clueless conclusion that the number of violations are a measure of the effectiveness of an enforcement crackdown are totally BOGUS since DUI violations are only half the number of cellphone violations, even though there are regular enforcement crackdowns for DUI, but not for driving with hand-held cellphones."