Thursday, June 2, 2016

Publicity hungry medical center scars a Zika baby for life

Zika Fever Virus from a mosquito is linked to the microcephaly birth defect -- an abnormal smallness of the head -- mostly in South America.


As I stared at the photo of a newborn girl with an unusually small, deformed head and her eyes shut tight, I wondered why The Record is running the image on the front page today.

By releasing the photo, publicity hungry Hackensack University Medical Center is invading the privacy of the baby and her mother, who was infected with the Zika virus in Honduras (A-1).

Is this the baby photo the mother dreamed about? 

Or, will the image haunt the girl for the rest of her life as "the first baby born in the continental United States with microcephaly traceable to the Zika virus," according to The Record. 

Does her birth in Hackensack make her a U.S. citizen, and expose her to sensational media coverage for years to come?

Bad neighbor

Residents of Hackensack have long regarded HUMC as a bad neighbor, because the non-profit pays no taxes on property worth $257 million -- shifting the burden onto long-suffering homeowners.

Of course, the sprawling medical center can do no wrong, according to the editors of The Record.

North Jersey Media Group -- publisher of the Woodland Park daily -- saw no conflict when Vice President/General Counsel Jennifer A. Borg sat on the hospital board, HUMC advertising appeared regularly on North and the local news staff covered one unpopular expansion after another in Hackensack.

Today's Page 1 story on the Honduran mother and baby carries the bylines of two medical writers, Mary Jo Layton and Lindy Washburn.

Assisting them was Staff Writer Monsy Alvarado, one of the few Hispanics in the newsroom.

Hackensack news?

One look at today's local-news section tells Hackensack residents they apparently no longer live in the circulation area.

Looks like Editor Deirdre Sykes ran out of room for Hackensack news after running three major Silk City stories from Joe Malinconio of the Paterson Press (L-1 and L-3).

She also ran the long obituary of a vaudeville comedian know one has heard of, and devoted a quarter of a newspaper page to dozens of rescued cats (L-6).

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