Saturday, July 25, 2015

Editors, reporters hold themselves apart from you and me

The Port Authority Bus Terminal in midtown Manhattan on Friday. The Record today continues to play catch-up on the sad state of mass transit between northern New Jersey and New York City.

The Eighth Avenue entrance to the bus terminal.


The commute for North Jersey residents who work in Manhattan has been a "nightmare" for many years, not just the "week" you see on the front page of The Record today.

Even in the absence of electrical failures and equipment breakdowns, rush-hour seats on NJ Transit trains have been at a premium for years, and the packed Penn Station waiting room is standing room only and has inadequate air conditioning.

Today's Page 1 story on rail problems doesn't even mention the long list of grievances filed by NJ Transit bus riders stuck with the dysfunctional midtown Port Authority Bus Terminal.

Fare hikes

"Some riders found the delays especially hard to take because NJ Transit's board members voted ... to increase fares by 9 percent and cut service ... to fill a $56 million hole in NJ Transit' budget," writes Christopher Maag, the paper's transportation reporter (A-6).

But Maag omits any mention of Governor Christie's annual cuts in state aid to NJ Transit.

Christie also issued a statement from Iowa "indirectly" blaming President Obama "for failing to bring congressional and state leaders to the table to hammer out financing for a new tunnel under the Hudson River" (A-6).

Of course, Staff Writer Melissa Hayes, who is in Iowa covering the GOP bully's bid for the GOP presidential nomination, was too sheepish to ask him why he didn't call such a summit in 2010 instead of suddenly cancelling new Hudson River rail tunnels.

Instead, Maag again politicizes mass transit by noting, in one of the great understatements of the month, "Democrats and some transit riders found Christie's statement at odds with his own record" [unilateral cancellation of the tunnels in 2010, not 2011, as The Record reports].

No surprise. The reporter is at the beck and call of Editor Martin Gottlieb -- a Christie apologist from across the Hudson -- and assignment editors Deirdre Sykes and Dan Sforza.

SUV-loving editors

In decades of assigning reporters, Sykes and Sforza have insisted they cover every board meeting held by NJ Transit, but never to actually ride buses and trains, and assess the service.

Sforza himself covered transportation, but spent most of his time writing about "highways of the future" that will never get built, while ignoring defective NJ Transit buses with screeching rear brakes.

And when he became a local editor, Sforza assigned a reporter to write a number of long stories attacking NJ Transit's proposal to extend light-rail service to Englewood  and Tenafly.

Front-page news?

Is a new policy to close a 24-hour Walmart in Teterboro at midnight really Page 1 news or are the editors again merely pandering to a big advertiser?

Staff Writer Melanie Anzidei drew the short end of the stick, and actually was sent out to interview shoppers at 2 a.m. Friday.

This is a non-story, because the Garfield Walmart -- 4.5 miles away -- will continue to operate 24/7.

Poor George Nwokocha, a Hackensack man who bought bikes for his sons early Friday.

"It will be a longer trip for us," said Nwokocha, as the reporter, no doubt, pleaded for something more dramatic (A-6).

Poor example

Even before Christie set a poor example for a governor, he embodied an unhealthy lifestyle and terrible nutrition, all of which was ignored by the media as he blew up to 400 pounds, as estimated by late-night comedian David Letterman.

Today, Christie is shown in Iowa after trying a bacon-wrapped fried Oreo (A-3). Back in New Jersey, his aides issued a statement ordering residents to eat bread.

Gottlieb is covering the GOP presidential campaign better than he is the fallout from Christie's policies here in the Garden State.

On Friday, Gottlieb ran on A-3 what should have been A-1 news: 

A Senate panel approved a bill that would prohibit the governor from using taxpayer money to pay for his political activities outside New Jersey.

Speziale story

I got a kick out of the story on L-2 today about Paterson Police Director Jerry Speziale being pulled off of a flight to Puerto Rico in a dispute "related to oversized carry-on luggage" at John F. Kennedy International Airport.

Look at how much sympathetic ink Speziale gets here.

Yet, the editors have refused to comment on his running of the Police Department, which seems unable or unwilling to stop gun violence in Silk City.

How many innocent youngsters have to die in the streets before someone takes a hard look at the job Speziale isn't doing in Paterson?

At least seven stories in today's Local section, including the big photo package on the cover, are from outside Bergen County.

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