Monday, February 17, 2014

Sloppy writing, editing drag down daily report

The Modern, a 47-story residential building under construction in Fort Lee, overlooks three local access lanes to the George Washington Bridge at the center of the Bridgegate scandal. 


Stories on Page 1 of The Record continue to be poorly written and edited.

You'd think the front-page would get the most attention from assignment and news editors, copy editors and proofreaders, but A-1 today exhibits more sloppy journalism.

And it's not just the Monday editions, which are put out by a relatively smaller newsroom staff.

In today's story on the possible replacement of NJ Transit chief Jim Weinstein, he is described as "a low talker" in the first paragraph or "lede" in newspaper parlance (A-1).

The lede of a news story or column should sparkle, but this one is just puzzling.


Later in the same paragraph, we learn Weinstein "had been steeped in nearly two decades of political and public service" -- like tea, I guess.

Then, the reporter tells us, Governor Christie "hoisted" Weinstein "to the helm of NJ Transit."

You'd hoist a dead body with ropes and pulleys, but I imagine Weinstein was elevated to or appointed executive director of the state mass-transit agency.

In the second paragraph, the word "tunnel" was dropped: "... constructing a commuter rail under the Hudson River."

Two tunnels

Once you plow through all of these errors (actually, the project was to build two tunnels), the reporter gets to the point: 

Weinstein backed Christie's decision to kill the Hudson River rail tunnels as a "loyal foot soldier, laying aside his own interests to deliver the orders of his boss."

This story, as well as all of the accounts about the Port Authority and the Bridgegate scandal, are nibbling at a single theme, which WNYC-FM (New Jersey Public Radio) has been exploring in recent weeks:

NJ Transit and the Port Authority have become political arms of the Christie administration.

Syrian refugees

In a second Page 1 story today, the reporter says Syrian refugees in North Jersey hear "horror stories" about "sons executed before their fathers" (A-8).

Does she mean "in front of" their fathers? 

The Port

Today and Sunday, The Record has been reporting on the possible involvement of Port Authority police officers in the George Washington Bridge lane closures (A-1).

Two news reports on Sunday raised "new questions about whether some officers at the bridge knew of the political motivations behind the lane closures" -- to punish Fort Lee's Democratic mayor for not endorsing the GOP bully for reelection, the paper reports today (A-1).

But on Jan. 17, I spoke to an employee of Babe's Taxi in Fort Lee who said he complained to a Port Authority police officer about the resulting gridlock and was told to send "a letter to Governor Christie."

The exit for the taxi company's garage is on Hudson Street, which provides three access lanes to the bridge's upper- level toll plaza. 

On A-8, a story on a journalism award to Staff Writer Shawn Boburg for his GWB stories ignores how little reporting he has done on the Port Authority's refusal to expand mass transit amid increasing traffic congestion.

Harvy Lipman

Non-profit news appears in the Local section today (L-3), but the reporter who covered the beat since 
2006 died "last week" at 63, the Woodland Park daily reported on Feb. 12 (L-6).

Harvy Lipman was hired after Publisher Stephen A. Borg directed the editors to create a beat to cover charities and news of non-profits.

If Lipman accomplished nothing else, he will be remembered for his June 2012 article, "Hardship Grows Amid Wealth" -- about how the recession "had left pockets of poverty in wealthy communities in North Jersey."

Lipman recounted "the experiences of people who made good livings and had risen through the middle class to obtain enough wealth to live in such communities as Mahwah and Ramsey, only to find themselves jobless, with depleted retirement accounts and living on food stamps," his obituary noted.

The article is all the more remarkable because it was written for The Record, where the editors have seemed completely undisturbed by Christie's assault on New Jersey's middle class or no-tax policies that have wrecked the state's economy.

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