Friday, December 16, 2016

Editors finally focus on crisis in Aleppo, Syrian-Americans

In this map of Aleppo, Syria, published in August by the Carnegie Middle East Center, the Old City is in East Aleppo, right, where fighting to retake rebel-held areas and the humanitarian crisis have reached a crescendo in recent weeks.


Today, The Record's editors finally discover a local angle for reporting on the deepening humanitarian crisis in Aleppo, Syria.

Staff Writer Hannan Adely interviewed Prospect Park Mayor Mohamed Khairullah and other Syrian-Americans who have lost touch with friends or relatives or know people who have been killed in the Syrian civil war (1A and 4A).  

This Page 1 story reminds readers of the one Adely wrote in November 2015 -- more than a week after Governor Christie announced that he wanted to bar all Syrian refugees from entering New Jersey.

Why the delay? Syrians have been immigrating to Paterson since the early 1900s.

In his column on Nov. 22, 2015, Staff Writer Mike Kelly called Christie "a crazy uncle" for saying he would not even allow Syrian orphans under the age of 5 into the United States.

His Page 1 column the day before was completely devoid of criticism or condemnation of anti-Muslim rhetoric in the wake of the Paris terror attacks.

Putin and Trump

Until today, The Record has avoided reporting on the links between President-elect Donald J. Trump and Russia.

A story on 11A today traces Trump's "soft spot for Russia" to his desire to sell his luxury condos to wealthy Russians.

Trump, a major apologist for Vladimir Putin, also has dismissed reports from U.S. intelligence agencies that the Russian dictator tried to influence the outcome of the Nov. 8 election in favor of the New York billionaire.

You need a magnifying glass to read the legal notices in The Record.

Book deal, legal ads

Since Sunday, The Record's news editors and editorial writers have been consumed by what they see as an assault on the right of the press to profit from the publication of legal ads (1A, 8A and 16A).

One question isn't addressed: 

Does anyone actually read those legal notices, which are printed in small type?

Today's front page is dominated once again by a package of legislation that includes Christie's "book bill;" raises for his Cabinet, legislative staffs, judges, county prosecutors and others; and eliminating the long-standing law requiring local governments to publish legal notices -- such as budgets, ordinance changes and contracts.

"Motivation for pushing the bill, and tying it to action on salaries and book deal, said to be revenge by Christie against newspapers for their coverage of his administration," according to The Record.

Local news?

Still, readers of The Record have to ask whether the publication of budgets and ordinances gives the news staff an excuse to ignore important local news, such as the campaign by nine candidates in the April election for three Board of Education seats in Hackensack.

There was no discussion of the issues in The Record or Hackensack Chronicle.

Nor did the daily or weekly paper report any of the details of the proposed $104 million school budget before voters went to the polls to approve or reject it -- even though education accounts for 44% of every homeowner's property tax bill.

Another 'food crawl'

Have "food crawl" articles in Better Living replaced the weekly restaurant review, and is it a budget-cutting move?

Freelancer Shelby Vittek is back today with a "Polish Food Crawl" on 14BL and 15BL, although the out of focus cover photo of pirogis with sour cream doesn't look appetizing at all.
Elisa Ung, the restaurant reviewer who left the paper in November, likely blew $200 to $300 or more on two meals with a friend at every one of the fine-dining restaurants she reviewed.

When Ung was hired more than 9 years ago, The Record allowed the restaurant critic to treat three other people to two dinners at each restaurant.

When The Record introduced the "Informal Dining" reviews Ung did once a month, that cut the paper's expenses.

Now, if the food crawl has replaced all restaurant reviews, the additional savings would be significant. 


  1. Ah...Victor. I knew you couldn't resist a snarky comment about Elisa Ung and her expense account. Just a bissele sour grapes? C'mon man. You are better than that!!

    1. I know the expense account is supposed to allow a critic to remain independent, but in her case, it didn't improve her restaurant reviews or her Sunday column, The Corner Table, which often fawned over celebrity chefs and amounted to little more than advertising for fine-dining restaurants.

      And for someone who had a full-time job writing about food for more than nine years, Elisa Ung allowed restaurant owners to serve low-quality food at high prices, because she rarely described whether the meat was naturally raised or tried a salad or ordered a vegetable.

    2. And as my awareness and the awareness of such publications as Consumer Reports grew about the tremendous use of harmful human antibiotics to raise animals on industrial farms -- and that's where the vast majority of restaurant food comes from -- she just stood still.


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