Sunday, November 15, 2015

Weak local daily paper is not up to reporting Paris terror

Work continues on the Bergen County Justice Center after completion of a garage at Court and South River streets in Hackensack. Both structures will be tax exempt, adding to the burden of residential and commercial taxpayers in the county seat.


When you're the editor of a local daily paper that relies on the weakest and cheapest news service around, you shouldn't try to tackle a story as big as the terror in Paris.

Yet, Editor Martin Gottlieb of The Record dares to publish a front page with an Associated Press story that calls Friday night's attacks "the deadliest violence on [French] soil since World War II" (A-1).

That's a totally ridiculous comparison between a war that killed an estimated 350,000 civilians in France and terrorism that "left at least 129 people dead and 352 injured."

The exaggerated Associated Press coverage also doesn't make any reference to the long and troubled relationship between France and the Muslim countries the onetime colonial power ruled, including Algeria and Syria.

It gets worse

Just below the fold today, Columnist Mike Kelly claims North Jersey has the same kind of "potential terrorist targets that stir some of the deepest fears among law-enforcement experts charged with protecting" residents here (A-1).

Instead, Kelly should point out that pathetic local police departments from Paramus to Paterson aren't even up to doing their job of protecting residents from everyday violence.

And Production Editor Liz Houlton still does not get the incongruity of running a dated thumbnail photo of Kelly's shit-eating grin or an amateurish headline with such a grave story.

"In U.S., ramping up 
readiness for the worst"

Local angle

The Record's staff also tried to localize the story, but the best the editors and reporters could do was to quote one North Jersey resident who was in a Paris bar during the attacks and another who grew up there.

On Saturday's front page, an entire story or sidebar was devoted to two Bergen County residents, a teenager who took a year off and an Englewood pastry chef who heard about the attacks while on a business trip in Japan.

The first is Malo Guegen, 18, a privileged Haworth resident who is living with his uncle in Paris, where he was in a bar watching the soccer match between France and Germany on TV. 

The second is Florian Bellanger, the pastry chef, who grew up in Paris, and who was worried about his two brothers, who still live there. 

Today, a front-page sidebar is devoted to "people across New Jersey and New York" who "took moments to reflect and grieve over the Friday night terrorist attacks" (A-1). 

North Jersey news

The Local section today and Saturday couldn't provide a starker contrast to the events in Paris.

Today's lead story would have us believe life in Allendale is nearly perfect, with residents having little more to worry about than how high school athletic fields are being lit (L-1).

In Hackensack, residents are breathing a sigh of relief after 111 volunteers from nine groups collected litter from across the city on Saturday (L-1).

I am still waiting for a story on Hackensack's free-spending Board of Education, which pays lunchroom aides $22 an hour.

Almost all of Saturday's Local section was devoted to crime and court news, including the sentencing of four defendants in the 2013 home invasion and robbery of multimillionaire developer Fred Daibes.

Last year, Daibes dropped a plan to build apartments on 19.7 acres along River Street in Hackensack owned by North Jersey Media Group, publisher of the The Record.

Tunnel vision

Kelly has a second column in today's Sunday edition, this one about the agreement to build new Hudson River rail tunnels, a project Governor Christie aborted in October 2010.

Basically, Kelly rewrote a Page 1 news story that appeared just two days ago, asking who will pay the estimated cost of $20 billion (O-1).

Kelly and transportation reporter Christopher Maag, who wrote Friday's story, didn't bother to calculate the societal value of expanded rail service, including greater worker productivity, and less traffic congestion and air pollution.

The headline and Kelly's text also are incorrect: Two tunnels will be built, not one.

More bullshit

Critic Elisa Ung sounds just like a restaurant owner today, arguing against the high cost of grass-fed beef, a leaner, healthier type that is raised without harmful antibiotics and growth hormones (BL-1).

Ung's lame argument is that grass-fed beef isn't as profitable for restaurants.

In today's slanted column, misnamed The Corner Table, human and animal welfare aren't even mentioned.

She also is wrong by asserting that grass-fed meat is available only in upscale grocery stores, ignoring the organic grass-fed steaks and ground beef from Australia sold at ShopRite supermarkets.

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