Wednesday, November 30, 2016

We're damned if Christie does and damned if he doesn't

Governor Christie appears to be stuffing down food to cope with the stress of a failed presidential campaign and not being tapped for the Cabinet or other post in the administration of President-elect Donald J. Trump. On Tuesday, Christie's office provided this photo of him announcing a $300 million renovation of the State House.


How many times do readers of The Record have to slog through another news story and boring political column on Governor Christie's future?

More than two pages of today's edition are devoted to Christie, President-elect Donald J. Trump's Cabinet picks and whether Jersey's own GOP thug will get a job in the wacko's administration (1A, 8A and 9A).

The huge double-decker headline on Page 1 isn't news:

"Christie says:
'I'm not leaving'"

What would be news is for Trenton reporter Dustin Racioppi to tell readers just how many vetoes Christie has executed, and potentially how many more are in store, if he stays in office until January 2018.

Christie, who is believed to have used the veto more than 500 times since January 2010, has made known his opposition on many issues, including hiking the minimum wage, imposing a tax surcharge on millionaires and even early voting.

So, we're damned if he serves his full second term, and gets a chance to kill bills to do all of that and more.

And if he becomes Trump's attorney general, we could be damned when he support states that try to suppress the minority vote or recommend against filing federal civil rights suits against white police officers who shoot unarmed blacks?

Flights to Cuba

The upbeat story on the first commercial flight from Newark to Cuba notes many of the passengers on Tuesday were New Jersey residents who planned to visit relatives on the island (1A).

Staff Writer Monsy Alvarado doesn't mention it, but tens of billions of dollars in remittances sent to Cuba from New Jersey, Florida and other states have kept the island afloat since the U.S. trade embargo was imposed in 1962.

'Kelly missed mark'

In a letter to the editor today, David Singer of Demarest criticizes veteran Columnist Mike Kelly for claiming "Hamilton" cast members' message to Vice President-elect Mike Spence "flopped" (10A).

Singer wrote:

"The message was respectful: The audience was asked not to boo the vice-president elect. Michael Spence was welcomed, thanked for attending, and then asked to please hear the grave concerns created by the hostile language used in the Trump/Pence campaign."

How did Kelly miss all of that or the cast's fundamental right to free speech, even in the august presence of the vice-president elect?

"It's Kelly who missed the mark with his critique," Singer says.


Local news?

Gannett's dumbing down of local news continues today with the majority of stories in The Record's Local section written by less-experienced weekly reporters (1L to 6L).

Most of the Local front is devoted to traffic limitations on a bridge linking Fair Lawn to Paterson (1L).

Despite the huge headline, this is hardly breaking news:

"Bridge's condition
prompts traffic cap"

The story carries the byline of John E. Seasly, The Record staff writer who did only a so-so job when he covered Hackensack.

For example, Seasly refused to cover the campaign by nine candidates for three seats on the Board of Education last April or report on a $100-million-plus school budget that voters were asked to approve or reject.

He also missed a major event in the city's downtown redevelopment:

Construction of a 14-story, 382-unit apartment building at Main and Mercer streets was halted in late July when pile driving damaged a day care building next to the site.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Democracy could bring guns and mass shootings to Cuba

News media estimates of Cubans bidding farewell to Fidel Castro range from tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands, including these mourners wending their way to the Plaza of the Revolution in Havana on Monday (AP photo). 


The death of revolutionary Fidel Castro prompted Cuban-American Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., and many others to express the hope the island is "a step closer to freedom," as an editorial in The Record put it.

Just which rights would be appropriate in Cuba beyond freedom of speech, of the press and other basic freedoms?

You wouldn't be free to call for the overthrow of the socialist government, which provides universal health care and education to 11 million island residents despite the crushing U.S. trade embargo dating to 1962.

And, god forbid, Cubans would be given the right to bear arms, and imitate Americans' propensity for gun violence, school shootings and other mass killings.

Cubans also don't deserve a two-party system poisoned by money (Menendez himself is facing trial on corruption charges), suppression of minority voters and white police officers shooting a large number of blacks.

First flights

Americans on the first flights from New York, Newark and Miami to Havana in more than 50 years will be vacationing in the safest major tourist destination in the Caribbean.

They'll enjoy Havana's unique paladares, restaurants of no more than 12 seats set up in private homes; great Afro-Cuban music, eco-tourism and much more on the 777-mile-long island.

They'll even be able to rent a car and drive to a cafe on a hill where they can use binoculars to look at the U.S. prison in the Guantanamo Bay naval base. 

Soft news

Readers of The Record today and Monday have plenty of time to speculate about Cuba's future in view of all of the "soft" news and ho-hum local news assembled by Gannett editors.

Today's front page has only one hard news story -- the attack on the campus of Ohio State University.

Monday's Page 1 had no hard news, just a couple of feature stories that would have been more appropriate on the Local front.

Plus, 1A carried another boring political column from so-called Washington Correspondent Herb Jackson, whose updated thumbnail photo still has him propping up his head. 

Local news?

Check out some of the headlines in the local-news section today and Monday:

to sum up
on Ramsey
Wawa plan"

"Wayne's world
means football"

"Missing Florida dog
is found in Paterson"

"Englewood church rebounding after fire"

"2 towns consider sharing complex"

"Hasbrouck Heights set to license cats"

"North Bergen's Police Dept.
welcomes body armor grants"

Many of the local-news stories in The Record now are being written by reporters from the weekly papers owned by Gannett's North Jersey Media Group.

Generally, they are younger and have less experience than reporters for the Woodland Park daily, and the stories show that.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Cubans live longer, don't worry about guns, crime or drugs

Pope Francis and Fidel Castro meeting on Sept. 20, 2015, during the pontiff's trip to Cuba (Credit: Alex Castro-AP).


The Record's news, feature and travel editors and columnists are trying to keep readers from learning a dirty little secret about Cuba.

The island has long been the safest major tourist destination in the Caribbean.

Cuba doesn't have crime, gun or drug problems, making it a paradise on earth for its 11 million residents, and a great place to vacation.

In fact, the life expectancy on the biggest island in the Caribbean is 80, CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta reported on Saturday.

That's quite a feat for a country that is often portrayed in the news media as one of the poorest in the world, especially when you realize the life expectancy in the United States is 79.

In reporting the death of Fidel Castro, the Sunday edition of The Record is filled with negatives about the Cuban revolutionary, communism and life on the island -- a former U.S. colony (1A, 9A, 10A, 11A).

The headline over the huge black-and-white photo of Castro in 1970 reads:


Castro handed over the presidency to his younger brother, Raul, in 2008 and was in declining health for several years, so he really wasn't the "leader" of Cuba on his death.

Much of today's coverage reflects The Record's relentless focus on politics -- the same filter used to report on Governor Christie, the racially inspired congressional gridlock during the Obama presidency and the nasty White House campaign that ended with the election of wacko racist Donald J. Trump.

In 2000, on one of my visits to Havana, Cuba, I took a photo of three teenagers. They reflected the diversity of an island that until the 1959 revolution had been strictly divided between whites and blacks.

I made seven trips to Cuba between 1997 and 2004, and stayed with a family in Havana on most of my vacations. I rented cars to explore such eco-tourism as bird watching and scuba diving. Here, I saw a group of friends gathering at the Bay of Pigs on a hot January afternoon.


Gannett editors launched a major redesign of The Record with the edition of Nov. 16, a Wednesday.

When you compare today's Sunday edition to the Sunday paper of Nov. 13 -- before the redesign -- the differences become clearer.

The redesign appears to use more white space and smaller type, especially in photo captions, but the type used for text is not as dark as before.

So, pages with big blocks of type make the paper appear grayer.

Headlines and captions were far from perfect before Gannett bought the Woodland Park daily in July, but now even more errors appear:

In the Page 1 caption on the death of Castro, his full name is used twice -- usually a no-no.

Last week, in a front-page promotion of a column on rehabilitation of Route 495 to the Lincoln Tunnel, the headline, caption and sub-headline all repeated the subject of the story.

From the website Mike Kelly Writer.


The redesign also uses updated thumbnail photos for most columnists, such as the one that appears with two Mike Kelly columns today (1A and 1O).

The old photo, in use for nearly a decade, showed an annoying shit-eating grin.

Although Kelly's own website shows he has a lot of gray hair, the new photo makes him appear to have colored his hair, and he looks like he is holding up his head with his right hand.

Local news?

Although readers today won't find any news from the vast majority of the 90 or so towns in the circulation area, the Local front carries a long story about a single parking spot in Ridgewood (1L).

The Record has devoted move coverage to the village's downtown parking woes and solutions than to the entire school system in Hackensack. 


Many readers rejoiced at the departure of Elisa Ung, who was the paper's beef-and-dessert obsessed restaurant reviewer for more than nine years.

Ung consumed obscene quantities of mystery beef and other artery clogging food, all on an expense account, and showed extreme deference to celebrity chefs.

Still, Gannett hasn't replaced her.

On Friday, in place of the usual weekly restaurant appraisal, readers found a list of Theater District restaurants taste tested by Food Editor Esther Davidowitz and Robert Feldberg, the theater critic.

The week before, Better Living editors listed expensive North Jersey restaurants that were serving Thanksgiving dinner.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Gannett botches coverage of 2 fatals, demotes U.S. senator

From CBS New York, a photo of Belinda Mercado Loughlin, a labor-and-delivery nurse who was killed in a two-car collision in Teaneck on Thursday afternoon blocks away from an aunt's house, where she was planning to have Thanksgiving dinner before going to work.


Today's amateurish, four-paragraph story on a fatal two-car Thanksgiving Day crash in Teaneck speaks volumes about how Gannett has royally screwed up local-news coverage in The Record.

Even though the victim was identified in a TV news report on Wednesday night, the story in The Record (1L) and on as of late this morning doesn't identify her.

Belinda Mercado Loughlin, a labor-and-delivery nurse at Holy Name Hospital, was killed in the collision at Degraw Avenue and Queen Anne Road in Teaneck, only blocks from her aunt's house, where she was planning to celebrate Thanksgiving.

2nd fatality

In The Record on Wednesday, editors finally identified a woman who was struck and killed in a River Road crosswalk in front of  the Fairleigh Dickinson University campus early Monday morning (3L).

They said Weiqi Wang, 27, was from China and was living in Teaneck after completing graduate studies at FDU.

The driver, Carlos A. Poole, 49, of New Milford was charged with careless driving, failure to yield to a pedestrian in a crosswalk and having an obstructed view.

Wang's death is similar to the deaths of other pedestrians in Hackensack and Leonia in recent years that demonstrate the need for criminal charges when a driver strikes and kills someone in a crosswalk.

But Editorial Page Editor Alfred P. Doblin and Road Warrior Columnist John Cichowski have treated their deaths as so much road kill, judging from their lack of comment.

Sen. Menendez

In a story about feeding the homeless on Thanksgiving, The Record today misspelled the name of U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., as "Sen. Bob Mendez" in the text (3L).

A photo of the senator on the same page showed him pushing a cart with Thanksgiving dinners at Eva's Kitchen in Paterson.

But the caption demoted him to a U.S. representative.

When Gannett redesigned the newspaper last week, the production and much of the editing was moved to a Neptune design center, where the company's six other New Jersey dailies are put out.

The design center might as well be on the planet Neptune, judging from how Gannett screwed up the senior New Jersey senator's name and title.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Future of Gannett journalism: 5 times more ads than news

NJ Transit buses in the exclusive lane to the Lincoln Tunnel are driven against the flow of westbound traffic during the morning commute. The Port Authority has ignored calls for a second XBL, as the lane is called, and never explained why exclusive bus lanes don't operate in the evening, too.
For decades, this portion of Route 495 to the Lincoln Tunnel has been called the helix. On Wednesday, The Record's so-called commuting columnist labeled it a "bridge," and raised an alarm about a rehabilitation project that won't start until late next year at the earliest.


I might actually try reading the Thanksgiving Day edition of The Record now that I've caught my breath after wrestling with what felt like 5 pounds of advertising inserts.

I quickly bundled them up for recycling, along with Sports, leaving me with four news and feature sections, containing pages that appear to carry more advertising and less news than before Gannett redesigned the print edition.

Stephen A. Borg, the former publisher, was no slouch when it came to advertising and marketing, and he even created a North Jersey Media Group unit that staged food-truck and other events.

Those events were promoted in the paper and covered by the news staff.

With the sale of NJMG to Gannett for a reported $40 million in July, the Borgs now call themselves Fourth Edition Inc., and work out of their old offices in Woodland Park.

Today's paper

It's front-page news when President-elect Donald J. Trump doesn't appoint another middle-aged white man or white supremacist to his Cabinet (1A).

Today's A-section has news on 4A, 8A and 9A that would normally appear in Local.

Local news?

Since Gannett let go more than 200 NJMG employees, reporters and editors for daily and weekly papers now work out of the same newsroom.

That means readers of the local-news section have been seeing many unfamiliar bylines, which belong to reporters from the weeklies.

Generally, they are younger and less experienced, and make a lot less money than reporters for The Record and Herald News.

Wednesday's paper

Staff Writer Christopher Maag, who covered NJ Transit and the city of Hackensack for The Record, had a Page 1 byline on Wednesday that identified him as "columnist."

No thumbnail photo of Maag appeared, as with The Record's other columnist. 

His story on "one family's journey from Syria to Paterson" is a tearjerker, especially if you've been following the horrific news from Aleppo and other towns that are being destroyed during the civil war.

The focus was on Ghussoon Zouabi, 39, who recalls the food shortages in Syria and who has been cooking non-stop since she arrived in South Paterson for her family, for the homeless and for others.

"When we got to my parents house [in Paterson], the kids opened the fridge and pulled all the food out and ate it. I sat on the floor and cried."

Zouabi arrived in the United States in March 2013. 

Last year, after the terrorist attacks in Paris, Governor Christie called for a ban on all Syrian immigrants to New Jersey, including children, but it has been widely ignored.

Route 495

Staff Writer John Cichowski appears to be the only columnist who continues to use a dated thumbnail photo, which is probably a decade old.

On Wednesday's Local front, his Road Warrior column quotes commuters who use Route 495 to the Lincoln Tunnel.

But Cichowski isn't concerned about congestion in the exclusive bus lane, the lack of rush-hour seats on NJ Transit buses or how Route 495 was closed for an hour in each direction when Trump left Manhattan for his New Jersey golf club last week.

Instead, the addled reporter looks more than a year ahead to the start of a major rehabilitation of the Route 495 helix, which he refers to as a "bridge" (1L).

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Amen to today's editorial: 'Trump cannot trump' free speech

This cartoon from Rayma Suprani is a reminder U.S. news media have reported President-elect Donald J. Trump's frequent praise of Russian President Vladimir Putin, but never reminded Americans that Putin's bombers are killing innocent civilians in Aleppo, Syria, and prolonging the civil war.


The negative reaction to an actor in "Hamilton" reading a prepared statement from the cast to Vice President-elect Mike Pence makes you wonder if we're still living in a country founded on free speech.

For example, among the letters to the editor of The Record today, Paul Ferrantino of Wanaque claims that "as a retired professional actor, I am embarrassed by the behavior" of the "Hamilton" cast (8A).

Though he doesn't name him, Ferrantino goes on to criticize actor Brandon Victor Dixon:

"Taking advantage of a captive audience, which included the vice president-elect of our United States, in this way was nothing more than a dirty trick, or at the least, an unfair way to espouse one's political views."

"Dirty trick" or "unfair"? No way.

Civics lesson

The Record's unsigned editorial on the brouhaha ends with the forty-five words in the First Amendment to the Constitution:

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

The First Amendment is a reminder that President-elect Donald J. Trump was wrong to tweet his demand for the actor to apologize.

Today's editorial puts it this way: 

"... No free pass is given on matters related to the First Amendment. The pun is intended. Trump cannot trump that. There is no [political] honeymoon for stomping on free speech" (8A).

Cast statement

The prepared statement from the hit show's cast "raised the concerns of people of color, of immigrants and of the LGBT community that the new administration may not do them right," as the editorial puts it.

"We truly hope," the actor told Pence, "that this show has inspired you to uphold our American values and to work on behalf of all of us."

Good luck with that, given all the hate speech Trump indulged in during the campaign.

But who can blame the cast for seizing the opportunity to speak directly to the vice president-elect in the hope the message will be delivered to the Dictator-In-Chief?

What a paper!

The main element on Page 1 today demonstrates how U.S. Customs officials have bamboozled another reporter into writing a story on "banned foods" international visitors supposedly hide in their suitcases (1A).

"Hundreds of pounds" of contraband are destroyed each week at Newark Liberty International Airport, the story reports.

Is that really worthy of a front page that has only three stories on it?

Staff Writer Monsy Alvarado is no kid just out  of journalism school, but you won't find a word about any actual harm foreign pests or animal diseases have wrought in the United States.

Customs officers should concentrate on stopping illegal drugs and guns from entering the country, and not obsess over worms in Portuguese chestnuts.

Another big weakness in the story is Alvarado never explaining why visitors bother to stuff their luggage with foods that are widely available in supermarkets and specialty stores in ethnically diverse New Jersey.

Local news?

In Local today, Bergen County readers find stories from only seven of the 90 communities in The Record's circulation area, including three from Paterson and two from other Passaic County towns.

And many readers note with horror that error-prone Staff Writer John Cichowski -- aka Road Warrior or is it Road Worrier -- apparently decided not to follow the example of many other staffers his age who retired during last week's drastic Gannett downsizing (1L).

Monday's paper

If they read The Record, commuters who ride NJ Transit buses into the city don't know whether a new midtown bus terminal is on or off.

The latest episode in blow-by-blow coverage ran on The Record's front page on Monday, when Staff Writer Paul Berger reported on a "feud" between the Port Authority board chairman -- an appointee of Governor Christie -- and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (1A).

With actual construction of a new terminal many years away, wouldn't it be nice if Berger tried to explain why there are no rush-hour seats on NJ Transit buses and why officials don't add more exclusive bus lanes into and out of the Lincoln Tunnel.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Gannett accelerates once-great daily's slide into mediocrity

Thanksgiving will be celebrated this week, but readers of The Record of Woodland Park aren't thankful for the drastic changes made by the Gannett Co., which has shown the door to more than 200 employees of North Jersey Media Group and reduced the local-news content through a major but unannounced redesign of the print edition.


What do readers think of last week's drastic redesign of The Record of Woodland Park?

"It sucks! Gutted and USATodayified" was this morning's tweet from @occupybergennj in a direct reference to Gannett, publisher of The Record and USA Today.

"The weekly edition of the local news decimated as well as Friday's Better Living," said another tweet from the group.

A reader who lives in a Hackensack high-rise emailed me this comment:

"The Record appears to be on life support. Do they have a living will for someone to pull the plug?

"Other readers of The Record I have spoken with are greatly disappointed with the new print version."

The descent of The Record into mediocrity coincides with a major makeover of the website in Gannett's bid to attract younger readers and generate more advertising revenue.

The editors and staff appear to be putting most of their effort into the website while neglecting the print edition, and that is certainly alienating thousands of readers.

Today's paper

The front page of the Sunday edition may get markets to once again use the paper to wrap fish.

The major piece on the rights of transgender teens in North Jersey is of so little interest to the vast majority of readers you have to wonder why it is taking up half of the front page.

Does the issue even affect 100 teens? I don't think the story says just how many transgender teens are attending North Jersey schools.

The second major piece on how the drought "reveals pieces of history" in the Wanaque Reservoir is the kind of environmental reporting The Record does every time water levels fall dramatically (1A).

Slanted reporting

Staff Writer James M. O'Neill, who wrote the piece, and fellow environmental reporter Scott Fallon have a blind spot -- the impact of auto emissions on our health and climate change.

Readers have seen many stories on the recent 23-cents-per-gallon hike in the New Jersey gasoline tax, but nothing on its potential to reduce driving, improve air quality and ease traffic congestion.

Noting record-high carbon-dioxide levels, Tesla CEO Elon Musk estimates that 53,000 Americans die every year from auto emissions.

But stories in The Record and other media continue to pander to the automakers and dealers who spends millions to advertise and sell all the gas-guzzling pickups and SUVs they are churning out.

Meanwhile, editors run wire-service stories that ignore the environmental benefits of hybrid and electric cars, calling them unpopular when gas prices are low (7B).

Christie columns

The last major element on Page 1 today is one of two exceedingly boring political columns about Governor Christie (1A and 1O).

Readers who are sick of all the transition news will choke on yet more rumination from Charles Stile on how Christie will fare in the two months before President-elect Donald J. Trump is inaugurated.

If you think that's bad, the first paragraph of Mike Kelly's Christie column might prompt you to throw up:

"Somewhere in the strange bubble of bullish blather and banality that now surrounds Chris Christie, you have to wonder if he harbors any regrets about how his political life has unfolded -- or not unfolded" (1O).

No. Actually, most readers are wondering how the GOP bully has managed to avoid testifying in public and under oath about the 2013 George Washington Bridge lane-closure scandal.

Or, how many more vetoes he'll execute to thwart the will of the majority in the state Legislature.

Local news?

I am sure I am not the only reader stunned by how in the last decade under the ownership of the Borg family, this once-great newspaper slowly gave up any pretense of presenting a comprehensive local-news report.

And how in less than five months after Gannett purchased North Jersey Media Group, that process has accelerated so dramatically.

That can be the only explanation for the shameless promotion of a big advertiser's Black Friday sale as the lead story in today's local-news section (1L).

And, you'll have to excuse me for kvetshing, but what is a story about Yiddish doing on the Local front?

And who cares that tiny Woodcliff Lake is replacing the roof of an elementary school (1L)?

Another advertisement is disguised as a news story on 2L, where an auto body shop in Wyckoff has permission to add "spray-painting bays."

We can only hope the runoff isn't going into a nearby stream.

Friday, November 18, 2016

I'm horrified at how much more damage Governor Christie can do now that he says he'll be serving until January 2018

A political cartoon from The Charlotte Observer illustrates how the Bridgegate scandal derailed Governor Christie's White House campaign.


Just when you thought Governor Christie would end up cleaning the gold toilets and laundering the towels used as toilet paper in a Trump White House, the GOP thug says he's staying in New Jersey.

"I have no reason to believe as we stand here today that I will do anything other than serve out my full term as governor," Christie told the state League of Municipalities conference on Thursday.

Today's overlong story on Page 1 of The Record gets bogged down in yet another rehash of Christie's relationship with President-elect Donald J. Trump, and speculation about whether he will be tapped for a post in the incoming administration (1A and 8A).

Staff Writer Dustin Racioppi, who is assigned to cover Christie, also mentions this week's 10th downgrade of the state's credit rating.

But he doesn't remind readers of Christie's war against the middle class since early 2010 -- from mass transit to the state pension system -- and the potential for more damage, if he stays around until January 2018.

Governor Veto

With a record of more than 500 vetoes under his belt, nothing can stop Christie from hitting 750 vetoes or more.

He's already put the kibosh on a hike in the minimum wage, a tax surcharge on millionaires that would raise more than $1 billion, and hundreds of other bills passed by the state Legislature.

In the last couple of years, the Democrats have had limited success in putting a few questions on the ballot to get some of the vetoed measures enacted by modifying the state constitution. 

Local news?

On Page 6L of Local today, Hackensack residents will find a rare story about the city's Board of Education, which is searching for a new superintendent.

I can't recall the last time The Record of Woodland Park covered a meeting of the board.

The paper did no reporting on why the old superintendent, Karen Lewis, left so suddenly.

In fact, the reporter assigned to Hackensack didn't even cover the campaign of nine candidates for three board seats last April.

The Zisa family political dynasty, which ruled the city for decades, succeeded in getting all three of their candidates on the board.

Former four-term Mayor Jack Zisa and his brother, disgraced former Police Chief Ken Zisa, have indicated that was the first step in an attempted political comeback under the banner of Team Hackensack that will try to retake control of the City Council in May's municipal election. 

Thursday, November 17, 2016

On second day of redesign, even more superficial reporting and not a word, burp or fart from Bergen's 3 biggest towns

A political cartoon from The Sacramento Bee that ran during the campaign has turned out to be prescient. Governor Christie's T-shirt, right, says "Christie for vice president of the George Washington Bridge."


Two stories on The Record's front page today are typical of the superficial reporting and editing the newspaper has done best for more years than readers care to remember.

Lisa Marie Segarra is an unfamiliar byline, but the problem with her Page 1 story on the fatal Sept. 29 train crash in Hoboken is all too familiar:

"Sleep apnea
eyed in fatal
train crash"

Segarra and her editors assume readers know what "sleep apnea" is, and never explain how a medical condition in which a person repeatedly stops breathing as they sleep might have affected the engineer before the crash.

If she Googled "sleep apnea," the reporter would have discovered -- and might have passed along to readers -- that insufficient sleep from the condition has been linked to occupational accidents like the train crash. 

First-time buyers

With only three main elements on the front page today, the splashy piece on first-time home buyers could have been lifted from The Record's Sunday Real Estate section, long a captive of Realtors, bankers and other advertisers.

As it is, the upbeat story completely ignores how the American dream of owning your own home can quickly turn into a nightmare -- thanks to high property taxes, unscrupulous contractors and dishonest repair companies.

Wasted space

What's the point of the Charles Stile political column on Page 1 today?

As he's done time and again, Stile merely rehashes a news story about Governor Christie.

This time he regurgitates Tuesday's Page 1 story on New Jersey's credit rating being downgraded a 10th time -- a record for any governor.

All that's new is an updated thumbnail photo of the burned-out Trenton-based columnist, who has been the GOP thug's chief apologist.

Stile's focus on politics is really a waste of space in view of how the redesign of the print edition unveiled on Wednesday drastically reduces the number of stories in the paper. 

Local news?

Today's Local section holds no interest for readers in Hackensack, Teaneck and Englewood -- the three biggest communities in Bergen County.

Readers will find stories from Wyckoff, Clifton, Pompton Lakes, Saddle River and Washington Township, plus court and crime news.