Sunday, February 16, 2014

Major winter dangers finally get some attention

The light went on in the heads of the editors at The Record, which today breaks new ground with stories about driving and walking challenges amid dangerous mounds of snow that face tens of thousands of readers.


I'm hoping a column and a news story on the hazards of winter driving and walking today represent the past and the future of reporting at The Record of Woodland Park. 

The Road Warrior column on the Local front is more of the same old hand-wringing over the hazards of roof snow that Staff Writer John Cichowski has been peddling for more than a decade, even though the problem affects a minority of drivers (L-1).

If past columns are any guide, Cichowski bases this lame effort on e-mails from drivers and telephone interviews with police chiefs.

Real legwork

But the L-1 news story by Staff Writer Christopher Maag is based on legwork:

Visits to Trader Joe's on Route 17, where piles of snow blinded drivers trying to leave the parking lot and blend into fast-moving traffic; downtown Hackensack, where a pedestrian had to climb over a car-high hill of ice on all fours; and other places where driving and walking are a challenge.

"'This is scary,' said Eboni Rodgers, the driver trying to leave Trader Joe's lot. 'It's ridiculous.'"

"'My God, this is terrible,' said Fred Ball, 58, as he escaped the traffic on Main Street in Hackensack .... 'There is no place to drive. There's no place to walk. It's havoc.'"

Major omission

Maag's story breaks new ground for The Record, but the Page 1 takeout on mounting traffic congestion in Fort Lee -- home to the George Washington Bridge -- lets state officials off the hook for a pathetically weak mass-transit system.

In fact, mass transit isn't even mentioned -- an understandable omission for a newspaper whose survival depends on page after page of car-dealer advertising.

Can you imagine the traffic relief, if NJ Transit's light-rail line was extended north to Fort Lee or officials had the foresight to run a rail line across the lower level of the bridge, affectionately known as Martha Washington?

Crappy hot dogs

The Corner Table column from Restaurant Reviewer Elisa Ung actually tries to sell readers on the notion that Sabrett hot dogs -- filled with preservatives and mystery meat -- are "gourmet" food truck fare (A-1). 

What a joke. This is just Ung prostituting herself to promote the "Food Truck Mash-Up event last July" that was sponsored by a division of North Jersey Media Group, publisher of The Record (A-11).

Borg's personal stamp

Really, what can you expect from Publisher Stephen A. Borg, who isn't above wrapping Page 1 in advertising, such as today's gallery of Weichert real estate agents?

That only reminds readers of the pathetic Sunday Real Estate section Borg created.

Week after week, the Business editors and staff avoid reporting the many horrors of home ownership -- from greedy banks to record foreclosures to the propensity of something going wrong every day and finding someone to fix it.

No worries 

Borg doesn't worry about any of that, secure in the knowledge he can always get a mortgage from North Jersey Media Group, like the $3.65 million he grabbed in 2007 to buy a McMansion in Tenafly, when his $2 million home became too cramped.

He used a NJMG mortgage to buy that one, too.

Two bits

Another Page 1 story on bitcoin leaves me cold, even if I could understand it (A-1).

Using credit cards may carry identity theft risks, but they also return hundreds and thousands of dollars in cash rebates, airline miles and other rewards.

Fans of Columnist Mike Kelly can catch his photo, complete with an engaging shit-eating grin, twice today, on Page 1 and on the Opinion front (O-1).

The Bridgegate and Governor Christie columns themselves aren't worth reading.

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