By VICTOR E. SASSON
The reported sale of family owned North Jersey Media Group, publisher of The Record, likely sent shock waves through the Woodland Park newsroom on Thursday, especially among older staffers.
How readers will fare is less certain, because The Record's local-news operation has been on life support for several years.
"Gannett is famous for cutting the budget and staff of newspapers it buys; for replacing veteran journalists with younger, lower-paid employees; for doing cookie-cutter newspapers subject to tightly centralized corporate rules," a columnist for Urban Milwaukee.com wrote last October.
If Gannett replaces newsroom veterans in Woodland Park, the move would recall the major 2008 downsizing ordered by Publisher Stephen A. Borg -- several months after he obtained a $3.65 million mortgage from NJMG to buy a McMansion in Tenafly.
Then, staffers with 20 or more years of experience were shown the door or told to accept buyouts, including the director of photography, community editor and co-supervisor of the copy desk.
Before the downsizing, it was common newsroom practice for supervisors to favor younger employees for promotion, such as the replacement of the food editor with a man who was less than half her age and had none of her talent.
In 2011, Gannett was reported to have reduced editorial staffs at three of its New Jersey dailies -- Daily Record, Home News and Courier News -- to 53 from 99.
Potential cuts in Woodland Park would include such veteran columnists as Mike Kelly, John Cichowski, Bill Ervolino and Charles Stile.
The New York Post broke the news on Thursday afternoon, reporting that Gannett "is getting ready to add to its stable of New Jersey newspapers by snapping up The Record and some weekly newspapers."
Media reporter Keith J. Kelly said:
"The news sent a jolt through the Record newsroom. Beleaguered staffers, who have survived recent rounds of belt-tightening without getting a raise in years, were stunned.
Many were said to be standing around in small groups talking after broke the news of the impending sale Thursday."A number of former Record reporters and editors who have been working at The Post for a decade or more may have been among the "sources" Kelly cited.
Gannett in N.J.
Gannett already owns the Asbury Park Press and five other dailies in New Jersey, and they joined The Star-Ledger in calling for the resignation of Governor Christie after he endorsed wacko racist Donald J. Trump in the presidential race.
The Record is the only major daily in New Jersey that didn't do the same, leading many readers to question whether the Woodland Park daily still is part of a free and independent press.
The sale of The Record to Gannett has been rumored for years, especially in view of the two publishing companies' business and journalism ties.
Gannett's USA Today and other papers have been printed under contract at NJMG's Rockaway plant.
NJ.com picked up the report from The Post, noting NJMG owns The Record and 49 community newspapers, one of which is the weekly Hackensack Chronicle.
NJ.com is owned by The Star-Ledger, the state's largest newspaper.
The Record is second largest, but its average circulation of 170,163 on Sundays and 135,544 Mondays to Fridays probably includes copies of the Herald News, which was designated an "edition" of the larger paper years ago.
The paper has been owned by the Borg family since 1930.
The Bergen Evening Record was founded in 1895, and prospered for more than 110 years in Hackensack, where the Borgs once lived in mansions on Prospect Avenue and Summit Avenue, in the city's Fairmount section.
The younger Borg is president and publisher, and his father, Malcolm A. "Mac" Borg of Englewood, is chairman of NJMG.
Jennifer A. Borg, Stephen's big sister, is vice president and general counsel of NJMG.
The company also operates NorthJersey.com and Bergen.com, and publishes (201), a lifestyle magazine for Bergen County's wealthiest families.
Page 1 of The Record reports Democratic lawmakers have blocked Christie "from loosening one of New Jersey's toughest gun-control laws on Thursday, turning the tables for once on a governor known for his prolific use of the veto pen" (A-1).
In the court of public opinion, Christie was at the center of the George Washington Bridge lane closures a month before he was reelected in November 2013.
So, why is The Record again using precious space on the front page today to quote his continued stonewalling of an illegal political operation inside the Governor's Office that targeted Democrats, including the mayor of Fort Lee?
Taxpayers were forced to pay more than $10 million to Christie's lawyers for a complete whitewash of his involvement, yet Record editors, columnists and reporters long pointed to the so-called Mastro report as evidence the GOP bully had absolutely nothing to do with ordering the gridlock.
Today, Restaurant Reviewer Elisa Ung recommends you fight traffic all the way to Ramsey, then fork over $25 for a small portion of potato dumplings at Bici, a pricey Italian restaurant where she makes the manager sound like a stalker (BL-16).
Ung complains manager Marcelo Gambarato "needs to become less intrusive," calling his five visits to her table "overkill, since most involved having full conversations."
She still managed to eat plenty of rich, artery clogging food topped off by a few gooey desserts.
"Gambarato was so over-hospitable that I was little worried he would follow us down the street and call us the next day," the reviewer notes at the end of her 2.5-star appraisal (Good to Excellent).
She doesn't mention whether he asked for her telephone number.