Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Commentary, lack of editing are two of paper's biggest flaws

Hundreds, if not thousands, of New Jersey residents have already received mail-in ballots for the Nov. 8 election; and made their choices for president, 5th District congressman and county offices, as well as voted "yes" or "no" on two ballot questions. Meanwhile, an editorial in The Record today endorses Democrat Hillary Clinton for president.


As usual, readers are having a hard time telling what point Columnist Herb Jackson is trying to make on Page 1 today.

Do ads paid for by "the super PAC of the National Association of Realtors" -- saying that Democratic congressional candidate Josh Gottheimer would "protect the 30-year mortgage" -- mean the businessman is in the pocket of special interests (A-1)?

As Jackson reports, Gottheimer's opponent, Rep. Scott Garrett, a Republican from Wantage in Sussex County, "crossed the Realtors group by pushing a bill in 2013 that would have scaled back the role of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the government-backed companies that buy mortgages from lenders."

Readers of the front page still don't know what all of this means until Jackson quotes "an outspoken critic of federal housing policy" saying that Garrett, in effect, was trying to stop "more government subsidies for housing."

It gets worse. If you stick with Jackson (few readers will get beyond A-1), you find out the bill pushed by Garrett would mean "thousands of people in New Jersey would have to pay more or not get a mortgage at all," according to New Jersey Citizens Action (A-6).

Then, the column goes on and on, giving the impression that Jackson and other columnists at The Record are encouraged to write long, convoluted pieces that violate the cardinal rule of daily journalism:

Telling the reader in the first or first few paragraphs exactly what you're trying to say.

And for opinion columnists like Jackson, Mike Kelly and Charles Stile, the lack of opinions in their work is even more alarming.

This trio of columnists rarely express opinions; they usually only quote so-called experts on each side of an issue in a tedious he said/she said account that resembles a news story or analysis.

Lack of editing

In his front-page column on Monday, Stile reports that as hundreds of Republicans across the country are abandoning GOP presidential nominee Donald J. Trump, "Governor Christie strode right into the vortex" (A-1).

"There's a simple reason why: He has no other place to go [italics added]."

Another Christie column appeared on Monday's Editorial Page (A-11), written by Editorial Page Editor Alfred P. Doblin:

"Republicans are lining up in disgust [over Trump boasting about kissing and groping women]. Not Christie.

"He's all in with Trump, probably because he has nowhere else to go" [italics added].

Kelly column

Kelly's Sunday column on the Opinion front cried out for editing, because only readers who slogged through the veteran reporter's awkward phrases, such as "Christie's self-definition," got to see him throw the strongest punches ever at the GOP thug and Trump sidekick (O-1).

His column begins with a tedious recap of testimony in the Bridgegate trial that Christie unleashed a series of F-bombs against a Monmouth County freeholder who criticized him and called him fat.

Christie reminded him he is "the fucking Governor of this state."

Kelly also spends a few paragraphs recounting the governor's tough-guy act during his nearly seven years in office.

It's only on the continuation page -- in his last four or five paragraphs -- that Kelly gets to the F-ing point:

Kelly uses "[expletive]" for the word Christie used in his tirade against the freeholder, "fucking" or "fuck" (Sunday's O-4):

"Our [expletive] governor actually believed he had the intellectual depth and temperament to be president of the entire nation ....

"... Bridgegate has reminded us that Chris Christie's bully act has grown old -- that this man has the quick-trigger temperament of a teenager.

"Yes, Christie is definitely a governor defined by expletives, In these expletives, he has made himself fragile and forlorn and forsaken.

"Soon, he will be forgotten -- finally."

A second mail-in ballot asks voters to say "yes" or "no" on allowing casinos to operate in North Jersey, and whether they want the state constitution amended so that all gas-tax revenue goes toward road and rail repairs and improvements.

Clinton endorsement

Today's editorial on the presidential race and an "Open letter to Trump" are laid out across A-8 with portraits of Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald J. Trump by Staff Artist R.L. Rebach.

"The choice is clear: Hillary Clinton. She is qualified, prepared and capable," according to the editorial endorsing her for president.

"Donald Trump will fight with Americans; Hillary Clinton will fight for America."

The open letter to Trump concludes:

"America needs a president, Mr. Trump, not a predator.

"Abandon this race."

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