Sunday, August 2, 2015

Editors reward Jon Stewart for keeping his hands off press

This sign might give you hope, if you have a medical emergency while driving on Route 4 east in Paramus, but the urgent-care center itself isn't close to opening, below. Why would Paramus officials approve the sign weeks before the building is ready?

On Friday, you could still see the original entrance and exterior paint of the shuttered Dos Cubanos, a Cuban restaurant, which is being renovated for the CITYMD urgent-care center, part of a Manhattan-based chain. When the center finally opens, how many patients will be rushing over after an artery clogging meal at the fried-chicken restaurant next door?


You'll have to read between the lines of Virginia Rohan's front page tribute to Jon Stewart to realize his greatest failure is never lampooning newspapers -- large ones like The New York Times and small ones like The Record.

Martin Gottlieb, editor of The Record, is a veteran of The Times, and both newspapers have revealed deep flaws -- from scandals over fabricated quotes to lazy, irresponsible local editors who wink at official misfeasance, malfeasance and nonfeasance.

Stewart, the stand-up comedian and actor, never even bothered looking across the Hudson at the state of print journalism in his native New Jersey.

No. For "The Daily Show" targets, all you have to do in look at the continuation page, which is peppered with familiar TV news acronyms: CNN, MSNBC and CNBC, as well as the infamously slanted Fox News (A-8).

A-1 photos

Poor Virginia Rohan, The Record's veteran TV writer, who gave us the Stewart appraisal. 

Isn't Production Editor Liz Houlton discriminating against her by running a contemporary thumbnail photo of Rohan (A-1) while using dated photos of Columnists Mike Kelly (O-1) and John Cichowski (L-1)?

Talking about front-page photos, check out the racy image of Emilee Carton, manager of the Lilly Pulitzer store in Hackensack, whose cleavage-baring low neckline is upstaging the racehorse behind her (A-1).

On the Web site of the store in The Shops at Riverside, Lilly Pulitzer is billed as "the unofficial uniform of the affluent at play."

That's appropriate considering the wealthy Borg family own the Woodland Park daily and (201) magazine, considered by some to be the bible of Bergen County's moneyed elite.

Stretching the definition of transportation, the editors assigned NJ Transit reporter Christopher Maag to cover the race at Monmouth Park, and he tries mightily to polish all of those horse turds (A-1, A-8). 

Zisa and Molinelli

Also on Page 1 today, the rare byline of Staff Writer Jean Rimbach appears over an "Analysis" prompted by an appeals court vacating the convictions and prison sentence hanging over the head of former Hackensack Police Chief Ken Zisa. 

Rimbach claims that and other setbacks constitute "a bad run" for Bergen County Prosecutor John Molinelli (A-1).

Of course, you won't find any mention of Joseph S. Conte, the Zisa trial judge, who was harshly criticized by the appeals court.

"The judge [Conte] did not forcefully tell the jury that the prosecutor's remarks ... were improper, and he did not unequivocally tell them that the improper information must be disregarded," the ruling stated.

And The Record has never examined Conte's record on the bench -- and how many times he's been reversed by higher courts -- before he retired and joined a Hackensack law firm.

Local news?

There isn't much to read today in the local-news section, ostensibly edited by Deirdre Sykes and Dan Sforza, unless you're a dog owner (L-1).

Nothing is changing with New Jersey's full-service gas stations, so why is the Road Warrior wasting our time with a long column on self-serve pumps (L-1)? 

Finally, an opinion

Mike Kelly finally manages to offer an opinion about something, the cancelled Hudson River tunnels project (O-1).

"This year, we have seen in graphic detail what happens when elected officials do not take care of important pieces of our transportation infrastructure" (O-1).

How's that for hard-hitting local journalism from the columnist with the shit-eating grin thumbnail photo?

Oh, by the way, "Hudson River tunnel," which appears in his first paragraph, is incorrect. Two tunnels were under construction.

On O-2, the Margulies cartoon about Governor Christie is a stretch.

But Opinion columnist Brigid Harrison, a professor, places the blame squarely on Christie for why a poll found our satisfaction with life in the Garden State hit a 35-year low.

Lions or humans?

On Friday's A-1 and A-4, The Record inadvertently published a condemnation of the media for their propensity to ignore human misery.

"It's so cruel," a woman in Harare, Zimbabwe, told The Associated Press, referring to the slaying of Cecil, a protected lion.

"But I don't understand the whole fuss, there are so many pressing issues in Zimbabwe -- we have water shortages, no electricity, no jobs -- yet people are making noise about a lion?"

You'd hear the same complaint from residents of Paterson, who live in fear of a drive-by shooting taking the life of another innocent victim, but who are saddled with a police director who has failed to attack the city's gun problem.

Yet, instead of questioning why Paterson Police Director Jerry Speziale shouldn't be replaced, The Record spends more time reporting on his lawsuit against the Port Authority, where he once worked, and his problems clearing security at airports.

New Orleans

It's sad to see that Travel Editor Jill Schensul waited nearly 10 years after the devastation of Katrina to declare that New Orleans "is back" and "better than ever" (T-1 today and last Sunday).

That's the danger when journalists go on press trips arranged by hotel owners, chambers of commerce and mayors.

She could have visited New Orleans in 2010, and written about the renewal up to that point, helping to steer tourists to one of America's most distinctive cities.

I saw much of what she described this month on a visit in the summer of 2009, including jazz clubs along Frenchmen Street, restoration of the St. Charles Streetcar line and a French Quarter that was as vibrant as ever.

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