Tuesday, January 19, 2016

What engages editors leaves most readers out in the cold

Between January 2009, when the original station house was destroyed in a fire, and March 2014, when a new Anderson Street Station opened in Hackensack, above, NJ Transit commuters relied only on bus shelters and ticket machines before boarding a train. A long Page 1 story in The Record on Monday never explained why commuters living in Wood-Ridge's Westmont section aren't being provided similar accommodations until a long-delayed train station opens there.

Actually, the Anderson Street Station is only a shelter open to the elements on two sides. Two small heat lamps are affixed to the ceiling. This morning, a banana peel, water bottle and other litter was evident, above and below.


Pity all of the commuters who were delayed this morning for more than 90 minutes at the George Washington Bridge tollbooths, twice the usual wait.

Meanwhile, packed trains and buses again forced many North Jersey riders to stand on the trip into Manhattan.

You'd think The Record's reporters covering the Port Authority and NJ Transit would have examined why these transportation agencies have been failing commuters for years.

NJ Transit could easily double the capacity of bus service into the city, if the Port Authority added a second exclusive lane into the Lincoln Tunnel during the morning rush.

And if those lanes were operated in the afternoon as well, homeward-bound commuters would face fewer delays leaving the antiquated midtown Manhattan bus terminal.

Too little, too late

Instead, transportation writer Christopher Maag wrote a long front-page story Monday on why a train station for residents of Wood-Ridge's Westmont section is years behind schedule.

Even though the piece went on and on, Maag never explained why, in the meanwhile, NJ Transit doesn't just set up bus shelters and ticket machines so commuters who moved into the so-called transit village finally can ride a train into the city.

And Staff Writer Paul Berger, the new Port Authority reporter, has actually written two stories on the agency's search for a new chief executive.

Today, Berger referees a pissing match between Newark and Port Authority officials over the agency's lease of Port Newark land (A-3).

None of those stories serve the large majority of North Jersey commuters stuck in traffic or standing in the aisles of buses and trains.

Today's front page

Page 1 today carries weighty stories on the front-runners for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination, a newly independent state Alzheimer's group and the racially charged battle over affordable housing in New Jersey's home-rule communities.

And for some insane reason, Editor Martin Gottlieb is wasting readers' time with a story on the Dec. 14 police shooting of a man who crashed his car in Rochelle Park, and sat inside for more than five hours.

This is hard-hitting local news, Gottlieb must have insisted at Monday afternoon's news meeting, waking up local Assignment Editors Deirdre Sykes and Dan Sforza, who had planned to lead their section with this snoozer. 

Local news?

Still, once readers get a look at Sykes' and Sforza's local-news section today and see it's for the birds, they'll be rifling through the paper for something of real interest.

The biggest local news is the rescue of more than 200 birds from "deplorable conditions" in a Passaic city shop (A-1 and L-1).

Food follies

The Better Living cover today is devoted to more 2016 "food trends," an insult to readers who shop for food and eat out regularly (BL-1 and BL-2).

One is "fermented" cabbage, declares Staff Writer Sophia F. Gottfried, who bases her piece on what she was told by "North Jersey chefs and restaurant insiders."

I guess she has never heard of kimchi.

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