Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Today's focus on local news is welcome, but may not last

Atlantic and Main streets in Hackensack once was the site of the Washington Institute, founded in 1769 and considered to be "one of the finest educational institutions in the state, according to this marker, and "it brought recognition to the Village of Hackensack."


Three of the four major elements on Page 1 of The Record today focus on local issues, and the local-news section actually has reports from towns on almost every page.

Although local news bores most of the editors and reporters, this is the stuff homeowners and others need to know to judge how well their tax dollars are being spent.

On Page 1 today, Staff Photographer Tariq Zehawi turned in a great enterprise shot from Hackensack's Junior Police Academy, showing he has a lot more talent than readers see in his ambulance-chasing accident photos, which are often used as filler in Local.

But Staff Writer Monsy Alvarado did a poor job of researching her story on Palisades Park's Korean residents asking for an interpreter at Borough Council meetings (A-1).

Her first paragraph mentions interpreters in municipal courts and hospitals, but that ignores the interpreting staff attached to every state Superior Court.

Trump, Clinton

The Record and other media largely continue to ignore the issues in the presidential campaign, but at least the stories about GOP nominee Donald J. Trump's racism and Democrat Hillary Clinton's emails are played on A-7 today.

The lead story -- "Chilling posts by Trump staffers" -- is from The Associated Press:

"Donald Trump's paid campaign staffers have declared on their social media accounts that Muslims are unfit to be American citizens, ridiculed Mexican accents, called for Secretary of State John Kerry's death by hanging and stated their readiness for a possible civil war" (A-7).

Catholic sex abuse

In contrast to all of the Page 1 stories about the pope and the Newark archbishop, settlement of a child sex-abuse lawsuit against Bergen Catholic High School was pushed back to the Local front today.

Still, there is no explanation why the $1.9 million settlement from last November is just being reported, nor any mention that lawyers for the victims will likely take about a third of the money (L-1).

Traffic tickets

Monday's Page 1 story on the drop in the number of tickets issued to drivers on Bergen County roads and highways is missing so much information you have to wonder why The Record published it.

Staff Writer Jean Rimbach begins by reporting that "most drivers" will welcome the decline in enforcement by the Bergen County Bureau of Police Services, but that would mean the majority break traffic laws.

That's preposterous.

In fact, a minority of drivers speed and drive recklessly, and endanger others who have enough to worry about on Bergen County's antiquated road network.

There is one reference to "a reduction in moving and non-moving violations," but nowhere does Rimbach discuss such specifics as speeding tickets.

Least productive

Typically, Rimbach spends weeks or months on such projects, under the protection of Editor Deirdre Sykes, the newsroom's mother hen, and Sykes publishes the results no matter how flawed.

The Record already missed a bigger story -- a dramatic drop in the number of speeding summonses issued by state police on the New Jersey Turnpike and Garden State Parkway in the past five years. 


Speeders are having a field day

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