Monday, August 29, 2016

Gannett replaces editor who spent years fighting way to top

In this Jan. 29 photo from, newsroom staffers applauded the promotion of Deirdre Sykes, left foreground, to editor of The Record of Woodland Park, succeeding Martin Gottlieb, center.


Deirdre Sykes of Harrington Park worked in nearly every desk job in The Record's newsroom before she was promoted in January to top editor of the daily paper she joined in 1987.

Now -- exactly seven months later and less than two months after Gannett Co. bought The Record -- the announcement came that Sykes will be replaced on Sept. 6.

Sykes, who is in her 60s, will be given "a new leadership position in the newsroom," according to

Richard A. Green, who was president and publisher of The Cincinnati Inquirer and The Des Moines Register, will become vice president/news and editor of The Record, replacing the second woman to serve as editor.

In a second appointment announced by Gannett, Nancy A. Meyer, 52, formerly publisher and CEO of the Orlando Sentinel Media Group, has been named president of North Jersey Media Group, publisher of The Record.

Worked overnight

Sykes joined The Record in 1987, when it was an afternoon paper headquartered in Hackensack, editing stories, and writing headlines and photo captions on the copy desk overnight shift -- the most thankless job in the newsroom.

She held numerous jobs over the years -- not all of them promotions -- including Passaic County bureau chief in Wayne, state editor, and day and night news editor, but she always managed to return to a position of control.

Her last job before she was named editor on Jan. 29, 2016, was as assignment director in charge of local news, the Trenton staff and the paper's mediocre news columnists.

Her salary at the time was believed to be $100,000 annually.

Her grandfather was John J. Walters, mayor of Harrington Park in the 194os.

Decline in local news

In her years as head assignment editor, Sykes named Staff Writer John Cichowski to the Road Warrior column, signaling an end to its usefulness to commuters, especially those who use mass transit.

Trenton staffer Charles Stile began writing a political column that appeared often on Page 1, and interpreted every burp, cough and fart from Governor Christie.

Despite Bridgegate, Christie's failed presidential campaign, his endorsement of wacko racist Donald J. Trump for president and more than 500 vetoes, Stile remains the GOP bully's chief apologist.

With Sykes as editor, The Record was the only major daily in the state that didn't call for Christie's resignation after his endorsement of Trump in February.

Mother Hen

Sykes also guided the reporting careers of Staff Writers Jean Rimbach, Lindy Washburn and others who formed a sisterhood under a woman who was widely viewed as a Mother Hen in the newsroom.

Meanwhile, local-news coverage declined, and in desperation, Sykes and her then deputy, Dan Sforza, began to fill holes with numerous accident and fire photos, Dean's Lists, long obituaries of obscure people, and crime and court news -- a practice that continues.


  1. A reader in Hackensack had this to say:

    Victor - two items

    1. I read your comments on the review of the Kosher place in Teaneck. The review was poor and what struck me was a reference to a cookie for $2.75. No one buys deserts at semi fast-food meat restaurants. The cookies are there for kids who come in with their parents. You noted that Kosher restaurants are "usually more expensive." As someone who only eats meat at Kosher restaurants there are reasons for this. Kosher meat is more expensive, the restaurant has to pay a "supervision fee" and most importantly a Kosher restaurant is closed 20%-25% of the time. They must be closed Friday night, all day Saturday and usually Saturday night. They also close for all of the Jewish holidays and for Passover. There are also four or five minor fast days when their business is way down. Also there is a nine-day period where people do not eat meat. They just have to make up for all of that lost revenue and it results in higher prices. The customers are aware of this.

    2. Today's Record was full of trash, but the biggest wastes were an obituary of at best a fourth-level actor who I had never heard of and would not remember.

    There is also an article at the end of the sports section on the golf page about Andrew Guiliani, Rudy's son, who I understand does not speak to his father. He was a mediocre golfer who is apparently giving up his pro status where he did nothing. Who cares --it is not worth reading.

    1. I figured the rabbi gets his cut at kosher restaurants, but didn't factor in all the time they are closed.


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