Sunday, June 19, 2016

Editors clash on Orlando killings: Hate crime or terrorism?

New York Post front pages from last Tuesday, above, and last Monday, below, contained clashing portraits of Omar Mateen, who used a military style assault weapon and a handgun to kill 49 people in an Orlando, Fla., gay dance club last Sunday.
A week after the slaughter inside Pulse nightclub, The Record of Woodland Park and other news media continue to struggle with whether the U.S.-born ISIS sympathizer was committing a hate crime against the LGBT community or was a terrorist.


Readers of The Record are pulled this way and that by today's front-page package on the slaughter inside a gay dance club in Orlando, Fla.

A week after Omar Mateen gunned down 49 people, readers aren't sure whether he was a Muslim terrorist or a Muslim who hated homosexuals or a little bit of both (A-1).

A news story from Asbury Park reports the advocacy group Garden State Equality used its annual fundraising walk to honor the victims of the Pulse dance club attack.

Below the fold, Staff Writer Mike Kelly continues to portray Mateen as an extremist in a column that recalls the 9/11 hearings in 2004, and then launches into a tedious exploration of a so-called debate on what words to use to describe a Muslim terrorist.

The Record's editing and production staff missed a major error in Staff Writer Matthew McGrath's story on the Garden State Equality walk -- the attack in Orlando was a week ago, not the "six days" ago that begin the second paragraph on Page 1.

Local news?

On the Local front, Staff Writer John Cichowski jumps through hoops to try to interest readers in a story on pedestrian safety at NJ Transit rail stations (L-1).

The veteran columnist actually left the office to cover a dog-and-pony show the state's mass-transit agency staged in Secaucus to dramatize the danger of walking and burying your head in a smartphone.

NJ Transit has come a long way, and no longer labels people who are killed by trains, including suicides, as "trespassers."

Cichowski pats the state agency on the back for being "proactive" by building fences in two communities.

But he doesn't mention a long stretch of track in the middle of Railroad Avenue in Hackensack that remains unfenced even though a middle school student was killed by a train there in 2010. 

LOL moment

On the Business front today, a large photo of apartment construction on Main Street in Hackensack provides a laughing-out-loud moment for residents (B-1).

In the foreground, Staff Photographer Tariq Zehawi captured one of the many homeless men who roam around the city not far from the Bergen County shelter, where they are served three meals a day.

The story doesn't mention the Borgs are planning to unload 19.7 acres in Hackensack on an apartment developer in return for $20 million or more -- a deal that presumably will go forward even if they sell North Jersey Media Group and The Record to the Gannett company, as reported last week.

It's no secret

On the Better Living front today, Staff Writer Elisa Ung divulges two North Jersey chefs' "secrets" for losing weight, and provides four of their recipes (BL-1 and BL-2).

Except readers don't learn any "secrets," only stories of self-control and choosing lots of vegetables, fruit and naturally raised meat over all of the artery clogging dishes and sugary desserts the paper's chief reviewer promotes in her weekly restaurant appraisals.

Still, one element of Ung's column deserves praise, and that's the clever headline:


Me, me, me

A second column from Kelly labels as "nonsense, pathetic nonsense" the notion that if more law-abiding citizens were allowed to carry guns, "murderers like Omar Mateen could be stopped before they fired off too many shots" (O-1 and O-2).

But before readers see that rare opinion, they have to plow through Kelly's describing his journalism experience over a four-decade career:

"I was 23 years old when I covered my first mass murder," Kelly says in his first sentence.

Later, he reports, "This columnist has been caught in street gun fights in the Middle East."

Give me a break.

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