Monday, August 31, 2015

Could bands, tags help Christie track illegal immigrants?

On a sweltering, 90-degree-plus day this month, the owner of this new sedan was driving in Hackensack with his windows open. Some drivers don't "like" air conditioning and others are trying to save gasoline.


Now that Governor Christie has been roundly criticized for comparing illegal immigrants to FedEx packages, he might want to turn to the animal world for a solution.

One alternative is to band immigrants like the injured red-tailed hawk shown on the front page of The Record today or to expand the American Littoral Society's well-known fish-tagging program to humans (A-1).

Of course, does it really matter what the GOP bully thinks about immigration or any other important national issue given the dim chance he will be nominated by his party, let alone elected president in 2016?

Still, Editor Martin Gottlieb continues to devote an enormous amount of space to Christie trying to act presidential (A-1 and A-3).

At the top of the front page, a column by Washington Correspondent Herb Jackson discusses constituents who ask their congressmen for help with an immigration or other problem (A-1).

Jackson doesn't mention that many members of Congress, including Rep. Scott Garret, R-Wantage, spend most of their time raising special-interest money to ensure their reelection, not helping people who live in their district.

Fatal shooting

This must be the 50th or 60th time The Record has run the same headline on Page 1 or the Local front:

Fatal shooting stuns
calm neighborhood

But the four reporters who wrote the story were unable to find out just what suspect John C. Wisse did for Bergen County government, where he worked for 30 years (A-6).

Nor did they question why Wisse, 83, needed a gun, if his neighborhood is so calm and "tranquil" (A-1).

Wisse is being held in the slaying of his tenant, Gerald Velardi Jr., 58, on Saturday. 

Can he sue?

Can a Tenafly man who hit a pothole while riding his bike, injuring himself and other bicyclists, sue the borough for allowing the hazard to exist despite the high property taxes he and other residents pay?

A brief on L-2 today doesn't say.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Editors run fake and real horse races on the front page

At Newark Liberty International Airport's Terminal C this morning, this departure level was relatively calm. The airport's cellphone lot still is hard to find because there are no signs at airport entrances that direct drivers there. Follow signs for "Rental Car Returns" and "South Area," then you'll see signs directing you to the lot.


Nearly 11 months before the major party conventions and nearly 15 months before the election itself, can anyone predict how close the 2016 presidential contest will be?

Of course not, but that doesn't stop the media from engaging in endless rounds of speculation on the nominees and who worries whom, such as today's Page 1 story in The Record.

Editors and reporters are so bored they have to manufacture a horse race every four years as a way of trying to engage readers whose real interest are the issues that affect their every day life -- such as the environment, gun control, Social Security and Medicare.

The Record's editor, New York Times veteran Martin Gottlieb, and the people running most of the nation's media shy away from exploring important issues, preferring to report extensively on the political conflict that has paralyzed Congress, and given birth to the "sound bite."

More manure

For the only real horse race on the front page today, see the disappointing performance of Triple Crown winner American Pharoah, whose wealthy owner lives in Teaneck.

The report from the spa town of Saratoga Springs, N.Y., was written by veteran sports reporter John Rowe, whose newsroom demeanor resembles that of a funeral director.

Gender change

A-1 is dominated today by a sensitive piece on a soldier's gender change from Staff Writer Todd South, the Hackensack reporter who is a veteran of the Afghanistan war.

In a Tweet today, South called the piece on Jennifer Long of Kearny "a story that took a lot of work but was worth it."

That may explain why Hackensack readers haven't seen any stories about the city from him recently, including in today's Local section.

The gender-change story continues on A-12 and A-13 -- totaling nearly two full newspaper pages -- making one wonder how many readers will stay with it to the end. 

Local news?

Readers' eyes continue to roll over the complete breakdown of editing and fact-checking, despite such six-figure newsroom editors as Deirdre Sykes and Liz Houlton.

A typo in the first paragraph of a local obituary for a World War II fighter pilot is so obvious readers wonder how everyone -- assignment editor, news editor, copy editor, copy desk supervisor, page proofer and Houlton or their stand ins -- could possibly have missed it.

"The Battle of the Bulge" is rendered as "The Battle of the Budge."

Opinion section?

The copy of The Record thrown onto my driveway today is missing the Opinion section, which includes the lone Margulies cartoon of the week.

Click on the following link to see the cartoon, one of the few mentions of Governor Christie in today's paper:

California's drought is getting worse ...

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Editors bury gun-control plea, restate obvious on Page 1

At Bergen Town Center in Paramus, an employee uses this fully electric vehicle to collect litter at properties on both sides of Forest Avenue.


The Record today buries a plea for gun control from the father of the Virginia reporter who was shot and killed on live television.

The placement of the story on A-4 suggests the media are partly responsible for why, as The Associated Press says, "winning such measures has proved nearly impossible in the United States."

Meanwhile, leading the paper at the top of Page 1, is a Mike Kelly column that simply restates the obvious -- "the inherent randomness of gun violence in America today" (A-1).

Where does Kelly think readers have been in the past decade or more as The Record and other media have reported one random shooting after another where children and adults gather?

Without warning, innocent people have been slaughtered in schools, churches, movie theaters, malls and on the streets of impoverished cities like Paterson (L-1).

What is remarkable about the piece from Kelly -- who has written extensively about 9/11 and the proposal for a mosque near Ground Zero -- is that this may be the first time he has had anything kind to say about Muslims.

Cheap gas

Also on the front page today, the editors promote cheap gas without pausing to consider the impact of more driving on air pollution, traffic congestion and climate change (A-1 and A-10).

Staff Writer Melissa Hayes, who has been traveling with Governor Christie in his doomed bid for the presidency, is back on A-1 today with another upbeat story, "even though he's a second-tier candidate who ranked ninth" in a poll released Thursday (A-1).

Editor Martin Gottlieb even gave the obscure "clam shrimp" better play (A-1) than Andy Parker's decision to fight for gun control.

3 corrections

Three corrections today suggest Assignment Editors Deirdre Sykes and Dan Sforza, and Production Editor Liz Houlton, failed again in their responsibility to deliver a completely accurate local report (A-2).

One of the corrections notes that in his Friday column on A-1, Road Warrior John Cichowski mistakenly killed a 13-year-old who survived a Route 80 crash -- adding to the hundreds of errors that have cemented his reputation as the most inaccurate reporter in the newsroom.

Local news?

The large number of Law & Order stories today could mean Sykes and Forza took a three-day weekend, leaving it to the police and court reporters to fill their thin section (L-1, L-2, L-3 and L-6).

On the half shell

For a good read, see a story on the comeback of the Delaware Bay oyster industry and the succulent Cape May Salt by freelancer Shelby Vittek (BL-1).

Friday, August 28, 2015

Dessert-obsessed reviewer pulls another bait and switch

An out-of-state driver almost missed the entrance to a cheap gas station on Route 4 east in Englewood on Wednesday afternoon, braking hard -- to a blast of horns from other motorists -- and turning into the last driveway near a hand car wash.


On The Record's Better Living cover, the beautiful yellow zucchini blossoms and the artful headline -- "GARDEN TO TABLE" -- are certain to pique the interest of readers who are trying to eat healthy when they dine out.

But inside, Restaurant Reviewer Elisa Ung comes clean:

She recommends four dishes at Latour in Ridgewood that should be avoided by anyone watching their weight, cholesterol and the health of their arteries, including cheesecake, cheese souffle and Beef Wellington (BL-14).  

Those gorgeous zucchini flowers are "fried to a golden crunch" and "burst open to reveal a molten mix of brie, goat cheese and Parmesan" -- the first two are full-fat cheeses that many dairy lovers have crossed off their list.

Ung seems to cater to a minority of readers who, like her, are obsessed with dessert, and eat far more than they should, such as the two Pashman Stein lawyers shown in an L-3 photo on Thursday, Samuel J. Samaro and CJ Griffin.

Today's front page

I agree with an industry group that a police crackdown on commercial truck drivers is misplaced (A-1).

Editor Martin Gottlieb leads the paper today with another Road Warrior column that ignores the real menaces on highways -- the hundreds of drivers who speed, tailgate and cut off other motorists, as well as truckers.

Gottlieb also throws water on a feel-good story about a Paterson rapper who gave a free concert on Thursday by running an A-1 brief on a single city teacher who helped students cheat on a test in 2014 (A-1 and L-1).

And the wire-service retrospective on New Orleans 10 years after Katrina doesn't even mention the total failure of the Bush administration to safeguard and evacuate residents of the largely minority city during the hurricane (A-1).

Local news?

The full story on the suspended Paterson teacher leads Local today, testament to how little Bergen County news there is from Assignment Editors Deirdre Sykes and Dan Sforza.

The drought on Hackensack municipal and education news continues.

Today, city residents received an email on downtown redevelopment, including the construction of an NJ Transit Regional Bus Terminal on land across the street from The Record's old headquarters.

The building at 133 River St. would include public parking and 90 to 148 residential units.

Bias suit

The lawsuit alleging discrimination against black employees in Englewood's Department of Public Works may surprise readers who rely on The Record for what they know about the city (L-1).

Englewood is a classic two-sides-of-the-tracks community where white residents send their children to private and parochial schools, ensuring the public elementary and middle schools are segregated.

Efforts at school desegregation have focused on Dwight Morrow High School.

Malcolm A. "Mac" Borg, chairman of North Jersey Media Group, has lived on the city's East Hill for decades, but that hasn't resulted in any hard-hitting reporting about Englewood schools.

This week, NJMG's (201) magazine sent out an email promoting Dwight-Englewood, one of the city's expensive private schools, where Publisher Stephen A. Borg's son is a lacrosse standout.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

In shootings-suicides, the real crime is easy gun access

In Tenafly this morning, an employee of a nearby funeral home stopped traffic to allow a procession to pass.


Today's front-page story on the "choreographed execution" of a Virginia TV reporter and cameraman doesn't even bother mentioning how easy it was for their deranged former colleague to get a gun.

And inside The Record, a full page of additional wire-service coverage mentions the gun only once:

Gunman Vester Flanagan, 41, an African American who shot and killed himself hours later, said he put down a deposit on the weapon on June 19, apparently to avenge the Charleston church massacre two days earlier (A-1 and A-6).

Ignoring the nation's continuing gun problem, Tamara Lush of The Associated Press describes the victims, reporter Allison Parker, 24, and cameraman Adam Ward, 27, as "two young journalists, eager and hungry for a story" (A-6).

The media are not only glorifying Parker and Ward, they're withholding images of their horrific slayings -- images that might give politicians the courage to do something except collect special-interest money to maintain the status quo.

Leave it to Parker's father, Andy, to say what The Record and other media should be saying every day of the year:

"We've got to do something about crazy people getting guns," Andy Parker said on Fox News, urging Virginia officials "to close loopholes and background checks."

Word pushers

The easy availability of guns also didn't concern The Record's editors, reporters and columnist who devoted more than a full newspaper page this past Sunday to Kevin Downing of Fort Lee.

A follow-up news story and a long Mike Kelly column didn't even mention how Downing got the gun he used to shoot a security guard inside a Manhattan federal building and then himself last Friday.

Most of the news story describes Downing's descent into hell after he was fired from his economist's job at the Bureau of Labor Statistics in 1999, and spent 16 fruitless years trying to get it back.

'My phone rang'

The long piece by Kelly -- The Record's sorry excuse for a New Jersey columnist -- goes on and on about the dilemma he and other reporters supposedly face when people like Downing call them: 

Are they telling the truth?

Kelly's column is filled with "I" and "me" and "my," as in, "I was intrigued but skeptical" of Downing's "whistle-blower case."

On Page 1, his first paragraph lands with the impact of a wet noodle:

"On an otherwise ordinary Wednesday morning, my phone rang."


After describing the variety of people who call him -- from an elderly widow on a fixed income" to "a prison inmate"  to a "father or mother in ... a difficult custody fight" -- Kelly laments:

"The stories are often compelling and heartbreaking.
But are they true ..., are they newsworthy enough to write about?"

Of course, unlike Kelly, columnists who have strong opinions, and are willing to challenge authority, might question a system that forced Downing to fight 16 long years before cracking and grabbing a gun.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

With Christie's support, Big Oil is ruling New Jersey, too

At the post office in Hackensack, employees used official Postal Service tape to hold together these signs.


For decades, the noxious Bayway Refinery has given hundreds of thousands of visitors a negative impression of the state as they drive by on the New Jersey Turnpike.

And it helped fortify the "Cancer Alley" reputation of the Garden State, which had the nation's highest incidence of the disease in the 1970s.

Who knew that Exxon was at the same time contaminating 1,800 acres of wetlands at the oil giant's former refineries in Linden (Bayway) and Bayonne, according to a lawsuit the state filed 11 years ago?

Now, The Record says, a Superior Court judge has OK'd a settlement of the case for a mere $225 million, most of which will go to balance Governor Christie's voodoo state budget and to pay legal fees (A-1). 

The state had sought $9 billion in damages when the case was filed in 2004 by the James McGreevey administration (A-6).

Koch brothers

Is it any coincidence the Koch brothers, who made their fortune from the refining and distribution of petroleum, are putting hundreds of millions of dollars behind conservative Republicans like Christie in the 2016 presidential race?

Big Oil and the nation's automakers also have worked hand in hand to fight the production of more efficient cars and trucks, and to delay implementation of higher gas-mileage standards.

That only aggravates air pollution and hastens climate change -- two environmental issues that aren't mentioned in a wire-service story on increasing traffic congestion (A-1 and A-4).

Today's front page

With not one but two silly sports-related stories on Page 1 today, the Exxon ruling is the only news of any real relevance to North Jersey residents whose property taxes continue to climb as the state's economy sours under Christie.

In Ridgewood, it seems, desperate residents are stealing street signs and even poles, and selling the scrap metal as they struggle to pay property tax bills inflated by the wasteful system of home-rule government (L-1).

Look at the hysterical reaction of New Milford officials, who are opposing a plan by Fresh & Fancy Farms to hold healthy farm-to-table dinners, cooking classes and festivals at River Road and Stockton Street (L-1).

Officials cite traffic "congestion" and "parking shortages" in the neighborhood.

Tea Party news

Also on L-1 today, the editors run a rare story on Rep. Scott Garrett, the Tea Party idol who represents part of Bergen County. 

As usual, the story doesn't report on what Garrett is doing to improve life in New Jersey and the nation, only what he is doing to block President Obama's every action and initiative.

Instead of pandering to a regressive like Garrett, local Assignment Editors Deirdre Sykes and Dan Sforza should use their Local front to celebrate the lives of people like Deborah Hubsmith, a Woodcliff Lake native.

Hubsmith, who died on Aug. 18 at 46, is founder of Safe Routes to School Partnership, which encourages children to bike or walk to school and spurs government to improve bicycle and pedestrian safety (L-6). 

Tracy Morgan

Today's Business page story doesn't say whether comedian Tracy Morgan used any of the settlement money from a 2014 turnpike crash to purchase a 22-room brick "manor" in Alpine for $13.9 million.

Instead, the Business editors' focus is on how the transaction is "the priciest so far this year in Bergen County," promoting the health of the real estate industry (L-7).

The settlement was probably reduced because Morgan wasn't wearing a seat belt when a speeding Walmart tractor-trailer slammed into his limo van on June 7, 2014.

The comedian's lawyer said he suffered a traumatic brain injury in the crash. 

This past June, NBC News reported Morgan still walks with a cane, gets headaches and has memory problems.

After the turnpike crash, The Record and other media ignored major safety questions surrounding the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter passenger van like the one Morgan and fellow comedian James McNair were riding in. 

McNair died from his injuries.

See the original Eye on The Record post from June 8, 2014:

Gravely injured comedian
rode in van prone to rollover

Ode to heart disease

Clueless freelancer Kate Morgan Jackson of Upper Saddle River is back today with another recipe that seems healthy, but includes a half-cup of artery clogging heavy cream and chicken breasts pumped up by harmful antibiotics (BL-2).

The headline claims "Summer Chicken Pasta" is an "ode to summer," but given the heavy cream, a more accurate heading would be "ode to heart disease."

"Eat it outside for maximum happiness," Jackson suggests.

Like when you are waiting for the ambulance.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Readers wonder what's next for market, their newspaper

Drivers lining up for gas at the Costco Wholesale station in Wayne, where regular was selling for $2.09.9 a gallon last week. Cheap gas has encouraged more speeding and aggressive driving on the New Jersey Turnpike, Garden State Parkway and other highways.


If you're going to devote all of Page 1 above the fold to the Wall Street "correction," does it make any sense to use the rest of the page to report on Governor Christie's "latest television ad" or even a rapper's free concert in Paterson?

Readers encounter more of Editor Martin Gottlieb's news judgement from hell today.

Christie lost ground after the first big debate among the GOP presidential hopefuls, yet his struggling campaign remains front-page news in the Woodland Park daily.

Columnist Charles Stile and Staff Writer Melissa Hayes have been doing masterful public relations for the GOP buffoon, who has spent more than half the year out of state on party business (A-1 and A-3).

Wait till next year

Are readers really paying that much attention nearly a year before the Republican National Convention on July 18-21, 2016, in Tampa, Fla., or are the media cranking up sensational coverage just to make the race seem close?

The Democratic National Convention is scheduled for July 25, 2016, in Philadelphia.

On the Opinion page today, Columnist Catherine Rampell of The Washington Post calls all of the candidates from both parties "deadbeats."

Referring to Christie, Rampell noted "New Jersey has undergone nine credit-rating downgrades and ranked 44th in private sector growth" (A-9).

Yet, Christie is promising "blockbuster economic growth" when he is president.

I guess that is as credible as his campaign promise to cut property taxes after he became governor in 2010.

Motion practice

Gottlieb is so desperate today he is running a long story on motions filed in the corruption case against U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez (A-5).

Defense attorneys usually file a blur of motions for two reasons: It boosts their legal fees and hence their outrageous profits, and postpones the inevitable. 

A second story on legal maneuvering appears on the Local front, where the law firm Christie hired at public expense is fighting a subpoena for computer data in connection with the George Washington Bride lane closure sandal (L-1).

WNYC-FM's "The Christie Tracker" puts the total cost of Bridgegate -- billed to "taxpayers and tollpayers" -- at $11.1 million.

Local news?

A long story on a new principal for an elementary school in Woodland Park, not far from the newsroom, has readers wondering whether the local assignment editors, Deirdre Sykes and Dan Sforza, lost the directions to Hackensack after they moved out in 2009 (L-3).

Monday, August 24, 2015

Are Christie, legislators caving into real estate interests?

With Manhattan's Riverside Church in the distance, this is what remained of one of AvalonBay's apartment buildings in Edgewater two days after a five-alarm fire on Jan. 21 that destroyed more than half of the 408 units, above and below. Seven months later, no changes in state building codes have been made to require "sturdier material, firewalls and enhanced sprinkler systems," The Record is reporting today.


It's hard to believe The Record could publish a long Page 1 story today on calls for a tougher state building code to prevent another devastating AvalonBay apartment fire, and not get reaction from Governor Christie.

Christie's name does appear on the front page today in a column from Washington Correspondent Herb Jackson (A-1), who reports the GOP bully leads all other presidential candidates in how much special-interest money he has raised in the Garden State.

Staff Writer Melissa Hayes and political Columnist Charles Stile have traveled with Christie on his campaign appearances in New Hampshire and Iowa, but I guess they had Sunday off.

Linh Tat and Minjae Park, the local reporters who wrote the story on long-delayed changes in the state building code, give the impression nothing is getting done in Trenton, despite a Democratic majority in the Legislature (A-1).

Big profits

AvalonBay is a real estate investment trust that returns big dividends to investors. 

Any changes in state building codes -- such as banning the use of cheap-wood construction -- to improve the fire resistance of AvanlonBay's proposed residential projects in Wayne, Teaneck and other communities would cut heavily into those profits. 

And today's story doesn't mention any improvements to existing AvalonBay buildings, such as those in Hackensack, where tenants have been losing sleep since seeing media images of the fast-moving fire that destroyed the Edgewater complex. 

Local news?

What a soft Local front today -- deer, dogs and parkland dominate the section.

For the second day in a row, The Record covered a demonstration for Kevin Allen, a black Passaic city resident who was shot by police outside the Lyndhurst Public Library on May 29 (L-1).

The education stories from Paterson (L-2) and Butler (L-3) contrast with the embargo on school and Board of Education news from Hackensack.

'O Canada'

Travel Editor Jill Schensul publishes a belated column on eastern Canada, including Montreal, where a strong U.S. dollar means big discounts for Americans (BL-1).

And in contrast to detailed reports from restaurant critic Elisa Ung on all of the artery clogging desserts she has sampled, today's Better Living cover story explores restaurant owner Lisa Mayisoglu's fitness and healthy food regimen (BL-1).

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Sunday edition editor is ignoring local readers once again

Grand Avenue in Hackensack has finally been repaved, but so many other streets in the city have been neglected for decades.


On Saturday's front page, Governor Christie's presidential campaign was described as "sluggish" and "struggling."

Yet, The Record today continues to waste precious Page 1 space on how the GOP bully is doing in New Hampshire, ignoring the mess he's made in the Garden State (A-1).

Sadly, a reader serves as the only antidote to the upbeat coverage masterminded by Editor Martin Gottlieb:

"Christie's most recent attacks [on the teachers union] have come in the same week when state schools have once again received national recognition for excellence," Paul White of Ridgewood says in a letter to the editor (O-3).

"This is the same man who lied about his real reasons for cutting money for women's health, who destroyed the proposed ARC tunnel and who accepts 'lavish' gifts from 'friends' while attacking the wages and benefits of public workers."

Today, there are only two other main elements on the front page -- a lead story and a superfluous column about a disgruntled whistle-blower from Fort Lee who fatally shot a security guard before killing himself, and a piece on college tuition insurance (A-1).

Local news?

Bergen County readers find two Passaic County stories dominating the Local front (L-1).

And a Road Warrior column on "confusing signs" on Route 4 is of concern only to those drivers who refuse to buy or use navigation systems (L-1).

Inside Local today, another long Dean's List stands in for municipal news (L-2), and stories from Riverdale and Kinnelon appear on L-3.

I haven't seen any stories about Hackensack lately, meaning the reporter assigned to the city might be on vacation.

Food news

On the Better Living cover, restaurant critic Elisa Ung is back with a column promoting sub shops that use cheap, low-quality, preservative-laden cold cuts -- this only four days after the section praised the variety of crappy lunch meat available at supermarket deli counters (BL-1). 

She notes one of the shops uses "quality bacon from Nueske's," but the smoked-meat company's Web site doesn't claim its products come from animals that have been naturally raised, so readers have to wonder if Ung is trying to deceive them again.

Friday, August 21, 2015

For once, critic makes healthy choice: No room for dessert

A family of geese stopped traffic this week on the Bogota side of the Midtown Bridge over the Hackensack River.


In The Record's Better Living tab today, readers are witnessing a first:

Elisa Ung, the paper's sugar-obsessed restaurant critic, didn't have room for dessert after tackling the all-you-can-eat buffet at Martino's Market in Hackensack (BL-14)

The small market is an institution in what was once a vibrant Italian immigrant neighborhood.

In fact, 10 years ago nearly to the day, a photo of Palermo natives Vincenzo and Concetta Martino, with grandchildren Rosa and Maurizio Nicastro, appeared on the cover of The Record's Food section, part of an extensive report on Hackensack's ethnic restaurants.

The headline:

Small city affords a world view

It's hard to believe The Record has ignored the Martinos for a decade, just as it has other ethnic eating places in the city were it prospered for more than 110 years before pulling up stakes in 2009, and moving to Woodland Park.

Nor can readers understand why Ung awarded Martino's Market only two out of three stars in today's Informal Dining review.

Two stars means "If you're nearby, a must eat."

Three stars means, "Worth the drive from anywhere in North Jersey."

As far as I know, the market's buffet of homemade Italian-American specialties is unique in North Jersey (now $15, compared to $10 in 2005), so why wouldn't it be "worth the drive"?

Page 1

The most interesting elements on the front page today involve the dead and dying (A-1).

The first is the touching obituary for Herbert S. Gold, 95, of Cresskill, a World War II prisoner of war who "felt the duty to tell the story of the war." 

The second is the photo of former President Jimmy Carter, who spoke "with honesty and humor" about the cancer that has spread to his brain (story on A-4, editorial on A-12).

On A-2, the editors correct another screw-up from Columnist Mike Kelly, though it's likely readers fell asleep reading his tedious Sunday column on the Hudson River rail tunnels before they got to the error.

Local news?

Given the local obituary for a heroic POW on Page 1 today, Road Warrior John Cichowski's mention of Donald Trump doesn't sit well with readers (L-1).

As you recall, Trump attacked another POW, U.S. Sen. John McCain, saying he preferred war heroes who weren't captured.

What's especially objectionable about Cichowski's mention of "a rumble" involving Trump and the other GOP presidential candidates is that it has absolutely nothing to do with his subject, pedestrian deaths.

It's another sign of desperation from a reporter who is so burned out and lazy he needs to pad his column with ridiculous references and one quote after another from hysterical readers.

In today's column on pedestrian deaths, Staff Writer John Cichowski reports Hue Dang, 64, was killed by a car on March 9 "while she crossed Kennedy Street" in Hackensack, where she lived. But the police report -- showing the position of the car and the woman after she was run down, above --suggests she was crossing Jackson Avenue, not Kennedy, and may have been in the crosswalk when she was struck by an unmarked car driven by a detective from the Bergen County Prosecutor's Office.

Older drivers

Cichowski's dereliction of duty as a journalist is evident today from the story next to his column reporting the death of a confused 87-year-old driver who, police say, drove on the tracks for a mile before an NJ Transit train crushed his car, killing him (L-1).

As far as I know, Cichowski has never reported on the challenges facing elderly drivers and whether retraining is available to them, despite the hundreds of accidents and deaths involving seniors in the nearly 12 years he's been writing the column. 

Local photo

Wouldn't the local photo of three men playing boccie in Lyndhurst (L-3) be preferable to the gee-whiz "Shot of The Day" from India (A-2)?


But desperate Assignment Editors Deirdre Sykes and Dan Sforza need that boccie photo -- and ordered it blown up to the size of small tablecloth -- because they simply couldn't come up with any legitimate news to fill their thin section.


Thursday, August 20, 2015

Editors bury another Christie failure, promote campaign

Ominous clouds greeted drivers heading east on Route 4 in Paramus this morning. 


Editor Martin Gottlieb of The Record continues to promote Governor Christie's lame presidential bid on Page 1, and bury his many flaws inside the paper.

Today, readers may have given up looking for something relevant to their lives before they see an L-2 story on Christie's "abysmal" environmental record.

For the A-1 report on Christie's New Jersey education "success stories," Gottlieb turned to the governor's favorite lap dog, Staff Writer Melissa Hayes, who is covering the GOP bully's New Hampshire appearances.

What debate?

The lead front-page story today carries this sensational, made-up headline and sub-head:

debate over when
a life has ended

Family won't accept decision that teen is brain dead

Of course, there is no "debate." 

The lead paragraph clearly says, the case "could spur another emotional debate over when life ends and how organ donor cases should be handled."

I doubt even that. What shoddy journalism.

Where's the fire?

Another sensational story on the front page claims Paterson firefighters were "pushed to the limit" battling a series of fires in one of the city's slums in "searing heat and humidity."

That only serves to remind readers The Record has never identified the owners of substandard multi-family housing in Silk City or reported on the widespread exploitation of tenants who live in illegal apartments (A-1).

And the photo of firefighters in the same heavy gear they wear in winter makes you wonder why no advances in fire protection have been made (A-6).

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Lazy editors praise lowly cold cuts, hide their real harm

An NJ Transit train passing Euclid Avenue in Hackensack on Tuesday. Today, The Record's front page carries more official jawboning on building new Hudson River rail tunnels to expand service to the city, but there is no telling how many months or years commuters will have to wait for an actual agreement on its financing by the two states and the federal government.


You'll find the biggest laugh line in today's paper on the front page of The Record's Better Living section, where some desperate reporter compares lowly cold cuts at a supermarket deli counter to "Starbucks, and its myriad coffees and lattes."

Not even close.

Nearly all of the cold cuts sold at deli counters come from animals raised on harmful antibiotics, growth hormones and animal by-products, though you won't find even a mention of that in Staff Writer John Petrick's long story (BL-1).

If you're not buying Applegate Farms cold cuts -- which are antibiotic- as well as preservative-free -- you're a lazy consumer who has been feeding your family crap (BL-8).

Petrick apparently was under orders not to alienate all of the supermarkets who rake in big profits from selling cheap lunch meat, because revenue from their advertising fliers props up North Jersey Media Group.

Consumer Reports

In recent years, Consumer Reports has linked the widespread use of human antibiotics to raise chickens and other animals on factory farms to a growing antibiotic resistance among humans.

In fact, the magazine launched a campaign to get Trader Joe's to pledge that the national chain wouldn't sell any meat or poultry raised on antibiotics.

Of course, you haven't seen that reported in The Record, where the chief restaurant critic, Elisa Ung, once referred to Consumer Reports "as the magazine many of us use to buy a washing machine."

More Page 1 B.S.

Today, Editor Martin Gottlieb publishes another long, tedious piece from opinion Columnist Mike Kelly that is completely devoid of any opinions (A-1).

As with so many Kelly columns, readers will find this one on U.S. Sen Robert Menendez indistinguishable from a news story -- except for the outdated, unflattering thumbnail photo of the veteran reporter flashing a shit-eating grin.

The "dual life" of Menendez as "statesman" and "defendant" is just more media bullshit.

The nuclear deal with Iran and the corruption charges against the senior U.S. senator from New Jersey have absolutely nothing to do with each other.

And the federal jury that may be asked to decide his guilt or innocence will do so based on the evidence and the law, not Menendez's record in the Senate.

In fact, President Obama has vowed to veto any bill that tries to kill the Iran deal, so why waste so much valuable space on the front page reporting congressional objections? 

GOP bully

Governor Christie has lost more ground as a Republican presidential candidate -- he's now in 11th place -- so why is the story on the front page today in place of more legitimate state news (A-1)? 

Another Page 1 story carries this headline:

"First step
on path
to a new 
rail tunnel" 

Of course, the "first step" comes nearly five years after Christie killed the last project to build new rail tunnels under the Hudson River and expand service to and from the city.

But it is only in the last 18 months or so that the editors, their so-called commuting columnist and other transportation reporters have paid any real attention to North Jersey's long-standing mass transit crisis.

Local news?

A meeting of the Hackensack City Council was scheduled for Tuesday night, but I don't see anything in Local today (L-1 to L-6).

On L-3 today, a story reports a non-fatal fire Monday night on Polify Road in Hackensack displaced six people and that five first-responders were treated.

Today's story describes "a garden apartment complex;" on Tuesday, a brief about the same fire said they were "town houses."

On L-2, businesses are offering discounts during Senior Citizen Appreciation Week in Passaic County.

There is no explanation of why the Allwood Diner, IHOP, Triangle Diner, McDonald's and Amor Cucina are offering free dessert or ice cream to seniors, many of whom are diabetic or simply watching their weight and cholesterol.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

What to do when not just coverage, but paper is all wet

Two police officers and a metal detector await visitors to Municipal Court in Hackensack, above. On Monday afternoon, I pleaded not guilty and asked the judge to dismiss a $37 ticket my son received for violating alternate-side parking on Euclid Avenue, the first we've received in eight years of living there. He denied my request, and hit me with an additional $39 in court costs and related fees.


I just spent 8 minutes and 44 seconds on hold and then speaking with a woman about a replacement for my copy of The Record, which was delivered soaking wet this morning.

The paper was in its usual place on the driveway, but folded inside a single plastic bag that was open.

I'd publish a photo of what the wet paper looked like when I unfolded it, but the litigious Jennifer A. Borg, vice president and general counsel of North Jersey Media Group, would likely file a copyright infringement suit against me.

On my second call for a dry paper, the woman I spoke with had a very pleasant voice. 

She explained The Record starts delivering replacement copies at 10 a.m., so they hadn't reached me by 10:30, when I called.

She said my earlier request for a replacement was noted in "the system," and I would be getting a dry copy.

While I was on hold, I heard repeated promotional messages for The Record, including a claim the Woodland Park daily has the "best" local-news coverage around.

I also heard part or all of three recorded pieces from the Ridgewood Symphony Orchestra.

Today's paper

The word "Alzheimer's" makes a rare appearance on the front page of The Record today, but this story is about whether the state or municipalities should have the power to oversee group homes for those suffering from the disease or dementia (A-1).

The Record has largely ignored Alzheimer's disease and the obesity epidemic in favor of covering autism.


The editors also largely ignored the nightmarish commute to New York City in the past decade, but now you see a story about train and bus delays on Page 1 every couple of days.

Yet, most of A-1 today is devoted inexplicably to Governor Christie's "drug stance," and how it will affect a presidential candidacy experts say is doomed to failure.

Meanwhile, the editors can't bring themselves to declare that a governor who has made such a mess of his home state isn't fit to run the country, and certainly doesn't deserve front-page coverage of his campaign.


Two more embarrassing corrections appear on A-2 today.

Instead of local news, the editors of Local bring us lots of Law & Order news today (L-1, L-2, L-3 and L-6).

Hard to believe local Assignment Editors Deirdre Sykes and Dan Sforza couldn't find any municipal news from Bergen County's biggest towns -- Hackensack, Teaneck and Englewood. 

Coincidentally, the local obituary reports the death of Amos C. Saunders, 81, a retired Superior Court judge in Paterson (L-1).


My replacement copy of The Record was never delivered today, and I worked from the soaking copy I had dried in the sun.

In July, when I returned from a 10-day vacation, I received papers from only three or four days of the time I was away, even though I requested that all of them be delivered.

It's no surprise The Record's delivery apparatus is so pathetic.

As the old saying goes, the fish stinks from the head (publisher's office) down.