Thursday, July 14, 2016

Second look: Pedestrian fatals, corrections, more stale news

You know your vacation is over when you're stuck in traffic on the Route 4 east exit ramp to Jones Road in Englewood, above, instead of driving through the scenic Adirondack Mountains in New York State, below.

Editor's note: I have the time but not the inclination to read all of the papers I missed while on vacation. Here are impressions of editions dating to June 29.


The editors of The Record still have not provided a clear explanation of why a driver hasn't been charged in the death of two pedestrians last month.

About two weeks ago, Editor Deirdre Sykes led the front page with a detailed story on the deaths of Ioannis Kapantais, 69, of Park Ridge and Mao-Chia Hu, 64, of Montvale.

Kapantais was a baker at the Pompton Queen Diner in Pequannock who "was taking an evening stroll in Park Ridge" in walking shoes he had received for Father's Day, The Record reported.

Hu, a former IBM computer engineer, was "holding hands with his wife" when he was struck in a crosswalk by an out of control car, the newspaper said.

But the story didn't appear until June 29 -- 10 days after the accident and Kapantais' death, and two days after Hu died at Hackensack University Medical Center.

And the report, which carried the bylines of rewrite man Abbott Koloff and police reporter Stefanie Dazio, was the first time The Record told readers who the men were and identified the driver, James Duncan, 61, a Park Ridge resident and police reserve volunteer.

Conflicting probes

The story makes a big deal of conflicting statements, news releases and reports from the Bergen County Prosecutor's Office, Bergen County Sheriff's Office and Park Ridge police.

Duncan, the driver, "had suffered an unspecified 'medical episode'" that "led to the vehicle leaving the roadway," according to the prosecutor's Fatal Accident Unit.

Still, prosecutors said, "no determination has been made relative to any potential criminal or motor vehicle charges."

Slighting locals

Sykes still doesn't get that she is the editor of a newspaper that made its reputation covering local news.

On the same front page as the long-overdue story on the pedestrian fatalities, Sykes ran a column on the death of a woman who coached college basketball in Tennessee, and who the vast majority of readers never heard of.

A few days later, the obituary for Martha Kerge -- a former Tenafly councilwoman, business owner, real estate broker and teacher -- was literally buried on L-5 in Local.

More corrections

Corrections continue to pile up on A-2.

They range from the Better Living cover misidentifying "the most common treatment for advanced macular degeneration" to misspelling names in stories or photo captions to reporting the wrong country where Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel was born.

This week, an A-2 correction ran on Tuesday to fix a quote from Leonard Zax of the Hamilton Partnership.

On Wednesday, A-2 corrected Staff Writer Christopher Maag, who was wrong when he reported in a splashy Page 1 story that the Gateway Tunnel environmental review had been suspended by Governor Christie.

Putting us to sleep

A columnist shoots himself in the foot and instantly puts readers to sleep when his second sentence begins: "It was 1958."

But on July 6, that didn't stop Mike Kelly from bemoaning the end of the factory system many decades ago, and relating in excruciating detail on A-1 how that affected an elderly Garfield couple.

Crime 24/7

You can't blame readers for being anxious for their safety when Sykes leads Local sections day after day with murder and mayhem.

The banner headlines on the local-news section on July 7 blared:

Woman shot dead in Carlstadt
SWAT team surrounds man inside home

And the bottom of the same page reported more mayhem:

7 towns, 3 crashes, 1 arrest
Elmwood Park man
chased for 12 miles

Screwing commuters

If you ride locally or commute to Manhattan on a bus or train, you've never found a friend in The Record's supremely lazy transportation reporters.

Last Friday on the Local front, so-called Road Warrior John Cichowski published an elaborate argument for the government to subsidize a real estate mogul's expensive Hudson River ferry service. 

At an average round-trip fare of $18, it's no surprise NY Waterway ferries run about 25 percent to 30 percent capacity while bus and rail riders fight over seats.

The Record's other reporters, meanwhile, quake in their shoes at the prospect of asking Port Authority officials why they don't expand service by adding more exclusive bus lanes to and from the Lincoln Tunnel.

Today's paper

Today, as in the past, Sykes and the morons she employs to lay out the paper continue to give a cold shoulder to prominent local residents.

The Record has published story after story about the Just Pups store chain, including today's Page 1 account.

But the obituary for Vaughn Harper of Teaneck, the "soothing and inimitable baritone" voice of WBLS radio's late-night "Quiet Storm" show is relegated to the Local front (L-1).

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