Sunday, January 3, 2016

Memorable stories no substitute for memorable journalism

A driver leaving a gas station in Teaneck saw nothing wrong with crossing the double-yellow line on Cedar Lane near River Road, blocking a turn lane and trying to find a hole in traffic stopped at the light.


The Record's first Sunday edition of 2016 is chock full of "nuts" to readers:

There's the 2015 local news in review (L-1), more speculation on what the future holds for New Jersey (A-1), and only mild criticism of Governor Christie, who has put his personal ambitions above the welfare of residents (O-1).

Editor Martin Gottlieb, a New York Times veteran who is retiring at the end of the month, has started the year off with a whimper, not a bang.

Cranky Stile?

The danger of leading the Sunday paper with another Charles Stile column is that readers will simply turn the page to avoid more of the same old political drivel from one of Christie's chief apologists (A-1).

Surprise. Stile sounds cranky today, but still tempers his criticism, refusing to call Christie what he is, the worst governor in state history.

Ditto for Columnists Carl Golden and Mike Kelly on today's Opinion front.

Here's Stile:

"Without a fully engaged governor setting the agenda from his State House office, the deep-seated issues affecting the lives of average New Jersey residents ... are largely unresolved" (A-1).

Can you hear readers snoring?

Other columns

On the Opinion front, Golden comments on a near-bankrupt Transportation Trust Fund, a public pension system sinking further into debt; rising property taxes, still highest in the nation; and the disaster of casino gambling.

Say it, Carl: We are mired in deep doo-doo, all of Christie's making.

But what can you expect of Golden, a former Record staffer and onetime flack for two previous Republican governors?

Kelly's long-winded column says the day before Christie formally announced he was running for president, he created a panel to look into ways of making it easier for residents to buy and own guns, but you have to plow through six paragraphs to figure that out (O-1).

Outrage, please

The three columnists show once again why newspapers are becoming obsolete:

Stile, Golden and Kelly don't seem to have strong opinions about anything. Their columns sound like the kind of news analysis papers have been running for years.

From their pulpit, these so-called journalists should channel the outrage of the public over some of Christie's dastardly acts. 

Instead, they merely push words around into reasoned arguments.

Indeed. The strongest criticism of Christie comes from Columnist Brigid Harrison, a political science and law professor (O-2). 

Hey, Marty. Why isn't her column on Page 1 today?

Local news?

On the Local front today, a roundup of the "memorable stories of 2015" runs nearly two-and-half pages (L-1, L-2 and L-3).

But did local staffers, who brought up the rears of Assignment Editors Deirdre Sykes and Dan Sforza, produce any memorable journalism?

I was moved more than once by the local obituary writer, Jay Levin, who does a masterful job of summing up the lives of notable North Jersey residents.

Can you recall any other memorable local journalism?


News of Hackensack, the biggest Bergen County community and once the paper's home, continues to wither and die.

Three areas of neglect were Hackensack's corrosive party politics, the impact of Hackensack University Medical Center and other non-profits on rising property taxes, and school and school board news.

In Englewood, The Record completely ignored segregated elementary and middle schools, and empty storefronts downtown.

Teaneck officials should get poor marks for Cedar Lane, one of the most congested downtown streets in North Jersey, and their refusal to install more turn lanes or even have cops directing traffic instead of setting speed traps.

Only the recent hit-run death of a homeless man at Cedar Lane and Garrison Avenue moved the editors to pay any attention to the street.

Funny business

Downtown economies were completely ignored by the business editors in 2015, as in previous years, and today's cover story doesn't bode well for them (B-1).

Readers are ill-served by the four staff-written profiles that read like public relations for the New Jersey and Business Industry Association, Valley National Bank, New Jersey Retail Merchants Association and Cushman & Wakefield.

Of course, business, food and some news coverage follows the money -- all of the advertising revenue that flows into North Jersey Media Group from banks, malls, real estate offices, commercial customers, restaurants, automakers and car dealers.

This year won't be any different.

No comments:

Post a Comment

If you want your comment to appear, refrain from personal attacks on the blogger. Anonymous comments are no longer accepted. Keep your racism to yourself.