Friday, February 5, 2016

First Hackensack story in many weeks is really stale news

Visitors to Hackensack University Medical Center are treated to a panoramic view of the Manhattan skyline from the top of the parking deck -- little consolation to Hackensack residents whose taxes are higher because the medical complex claims a non-profit tax exemption on $257 million in property.

This sculpture, once displayed in the lobby, was modeled after Managing Editor Dan Sforza of The Record.


The Record's front page today again tries to pass off legal arguments in the 2012 criminal case against former Hackensack Police Chief Ken Zisa as legitimate news.

In the last month or two, Editors Deirdre Sykes and Dan Sforza have virtually ignored municipal news from Hackensack, where the Zisa family political dynasty ruled for decades before the election of reformers in May 2013.

No reporter for The Record has covered the last three City Council meetings, and the Woodland Park daily hasn't reported at all on the city's free-spending school board.

Today, former Hackensack reporter Todd South does his best to get readers interested in Zisa's attempt to have an official misconduct charge thrown out (A-1).

Months after the 2012 guilty verdicts against Zisa, South reports, the trial judge, Joseph S. Conte, "in a rare move, dismissed three of the five convictions against him, a decision that outraged jurors and confounded legal experts" (A-6).

Governor Christie

Sykes, named as top editor in the newsroom a week ago, continues to waste an enormous amount of space and resources on Governor Christie's doomed campaign for the GOP presidential election (A-1).

Two bylines appear on today's story, Herb Jackson and Dustin Racioppi, over a New Hampshire dateline.

But The Record's reporting on financing of the Christie campaign is weak, compared to WNYC-FM, a public radio station (A-8).

Matt Katz reported this morning the founder of Home Depot withdrew his financial support of Christie in the last quarter of 2015.

Still, the Christie campaign received $70,000 from lawyers at Gibson Dunn -- the firm that issued a whitewash of the governor's role in the George Washington Bridge lane closures that cost taxpayers more than $8 million.

Local news?

Sensational crime and court news again dominates the section that is supposed to be devoted to local news (L-1 to L-6).

A filler photo has fans of the environment cheering the destruction of a gas-guzzling Cadillac Escalade in Old Tappan (L-6).

Confused critic

"Istanbul is among the biggest of a wonderful selection of Middle Eastern restaurants ... along Main Avenue in Clifton," says Restaurant Reviewer Elisa Ung (BL-16).

With that sentence, Ung completely ignores an equally wonderful selection of Middle Eastern restaurants just over the Clifton-Paterson border, on Main Street in South Paterson.

On Jan. 26, three days after the snow stopped falling, a bus stop remained buried under snow, above, and drivers were forced to use only one lane on two-lane Euclid Avenue, below.

Reporter's secret

Before she was hired as a reporter for North Jersey Media Group's weekly papers, Kristen Agnes was a sales associate at Victoria's Secret.

That may explain why her story on Page 1 of this week's Hackensack Chronicle is sending mixed messages about the lousy job city plows did cleaning up from the late January blizzard.

Her lead paragraph reports "ma[n]y residents attended the City Council meeting on Jan. 26 to voice their concerns regarding snow removal."

But her next four paragraphs quote City Manager David Troast, praising employees for an "excellent job handling over 24 inches of snow."

And the headline seals the deal:

"Officials laud snow removal effort"

Except for a photo or two, The Record completely ignored the botched cleanup in Hackensack, Teaneck and many other towns, as Sykes and Editor Dan Sforza have been doing for more than a decade.

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