Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Third story on small-plane crash still doesn't get it right

Abma's Farm & Market in Wyckoff was closed on Labor Day.


Readers know Labor Day is what editors call "a slow news day," but that's still no excuse for the third story in four days on pilot Jack Rosenberg.

The Spring Valley, N.Y., man is shown in a Page 1 photo today, recovering in a hospital bed from broken bones and other injuries, wearing what looks like a skull cap.

The Record's story not only doesn't say whether Rosenberg is an Orthodox Jew or if the slice of pizza he ate was kosher (A-6), it raises other questions.

Why is the Woodland Park daily doing a third story on the crash, and why is it all over the front page?

What's the big deal? 

Don't all small-plane pilots who go down after their engines conk out try to avoid injuring or killing other people on the ground?

Flawed story 

And why was first-day coverage of the crash on Friday missing the crucial details about Rosenberg deliberately turning his crippled plane away from cross-country runners and others on a Tenafly field?

Or, as the overworked police reporter, Staff Writer Stefanie Dazio, put it:

"As Jack Rosenberg looked out the window of his small plane ... hurtling 60 [mph] to 70 mph over the Cresskill and Tenafly border and saw dozens of young faces on a school field that would have made a perfect landing site, the father of seven knew he'd have to find another spot" (A-1).

Even my shortened version of that lead paragraph is enough to choke a horse.

Small-plane menace

Small planes like the one Rosenberg was piloting seem to crash all too often, usually with fatalities. 

When they're not crashing, small, medium and large planes, and the noise they make, have a huge impact on the quality of life in Bergen County, especially if you live in Hackensack, Teaneck and other towns near Teterboro Airport.

One story on Rosenberg would have been enough, but The Record's reporters and assignment editors never seem willing to hustle and do the legwork needed for such thorough reporting.

The two follow-ups corrected an error in the first account that Rosenberg contacted air-traffic controllers at La Guardia Airport; it was Teterboro Airport.

Overlooked pilot

Instead of a rehash and regurgitation of pilot Jack Rosenberg's crash, some enterprising editor should have put the obituary of a Tuskegee Airman on the front page today.

You'll find the compelling life story of Calvin Spann, 90, a former Englewood resident, literally buried in the back of Local (L-8).

The obit illuminates how African Americans in North Jersey still face discrimination today.

As a lieutenant in the U.S. Army Air Corps, Spann flew 26 combat missions, including the longest bomber escort mission of the 15th Air Force.

When Spann returned home, he wanted to become a commercial pilot, but the major airlines wouldn't hire African Americans.

The sub-headline on Spann's obituary says incorrectly he "faced segregation after war." 

He "found a job in pharmaceutical sales and settled in Englewood," the obituary notes.

Spann faced discrimination, but the black and Hispanic children attending Englewood schools today still face segregation in the elementary and middle-school grades.

Virtually all of the white children in Englewood attend private schools, and officials have sought to desegregate only the high school.

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