Sunday, May 1, 2016

Page 1 focus on minorities recalls discrimination of the past

A poster on the shuttered New Jersey Naval Museum in Hackensack, above, and the beached gangway that once gave visitors access to the USS Ling, below. The World War II sub is stuck in the mud of the Hackensack River, and tied up to property owned by North Jersey Media Group, publisher of The Record. 


Positive images of Native Americans, Muslims and African-Americans in North Jersey appear on the front page of The Record today in a rare focus on minorities.

The stories recall past instances when the editors marginalized those groups.

Ford pollution

The Record's 2005 series -- "Toxic Legacy" -- won journalism awards, but did little to prove Ford Motor Co. waste -- first dumped in 1967 -- was sickening and killing members of the Ramapough Native American tribe in Ringwood.

And in 2010, The Record urged the Ramapoughs to settle their lawsuit against the automaker for $12.5 million, allowing the lawyers to grab the lion's share of the money, and pay 633 adults and children only $4,368 to $34,595 each.

Today, the Woodland Park daily reports borough residents want to hold a referendum to kill a plan to cap 166,000 tons of contaminated soil in favor of removing it (A-1).

Still, the first reference to the Ramapoughs on Page 1 today is a mean-spirited description of their "low-income neighborhood."

Crime stories

Less than a decade ago, an African-American would have to be charged with a serious crime to land on the front page, unless the editors were running Black History Month stories.

Today, the funeral and burial of Teaneck Mayor Lizette Parker, 44, is Page 1 news, including a moving tribute from a Muslim councilman who once was part of a coalition that spurned her (A-1).

Still, The Record continues to ignore the hard-working, God-fearing Jamaican-American community in Englewood, Teaneck and Hackensack unless one of them is involved in gun violence or drug dealing.

Silk City Syrians

After the November terrorist attacks in Paris, Governor Christie wanted to bar Syrian refugees, even children, from New Jersey.

The editors' response took more than a week, but they finally published a positive story about Syrian merchants in Paterson decrying the governor's stereotype.

Today, Muslim leaders in New Jersey are quoted as "reacting warily" to an FBI plan to "cut terrorism off at its roots," as the headline states (A-1).

Still, The Record is the only major daily in the state that failed to call for Christie's resignation after he endorsed GOP presidential front-runner, Muslim hater and racist Donald Trump.

The USS Ling in a photo taken a week ago.

Local news?

Just one look at today's Local section tells Bergen County readers they won't find much news about their towns today.

On L-1, they find an enormous weather-related photo, and another column on the test for a learner's permit.

On L-3, a "Monthly News Quiz" wastes an enormous amount of space, and four major stories in the section are from Passaic County (L-1, L-2 and L-3), further cheating Bergen readers.

Healthier eating

In today's Better Living profile, Susan Ungaro of River Vale says she want the James Beard Foundation "to help move the needle on important food policy issues" (BL-1).

Celebrity chefs "can teach America how to eat better and be healthier and be socially conscious about important issues," says Ungaro, president of the culinary arts foundation.

Sadly, Restaurant Reviewer Elisa Ung, the reporter who wrote the profile, and Record Food Editor Esther Davidowitz don't see any part for journalists in that mission.

What else can readers conclude from Ung rarely telling them whether the food she samples is naturally raised or grown, and her obsession with meat and artery clogging desserts?

Meanwhile, Davidowtiz fills her food pages with promotions of restaurants, bakeries and other businesses that advertise in The Record. 

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