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The clear front-runner for the Chutzpah of the Year Award goes to The (Bergen) Record Executive Editor Dan Sforza, who has made a pitch for new subscribers touting election coverage that never happened.
“Now is the time to make sure you are involved in the process. Right now, we have previews, candidate lists and more at our NorthJersey.com election page,” Sforza wrote. “Not only does it provide you with the information you need to make an informed decision, but it showcases the critical role a free press plays in our society.”
Sforza’s representations are misleading – and maybe worse.
Had someone they cover made such blatant representations, The Record would be all over it.
“A subscription to NorthJersey.com will also tell you everything you need to know to vote in the NJ Assembly and results on election night,” Sforza wrote.
The Record has not yet covered legislative races in districts 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39 and 40.
Just one story on the Bergen County Freeholder race: they reported on October 16 that the GOP candidates won’t go to candidate forums.
Still, The Record asks readers to help them out.
“You can be a part of supporting that role by subscribing to NorthJersey.com now, in advance of the election, so we can keep reporting on the issues critical to how you live in North Jersey,” said Sforza. “There has never been a better time, with our current subscription sale taking place through Oct. 31.”
Sforza’s plea is understandable. His newspaper has lost 71% of their paid print edition circulation since Gannett bought it in 2016, according to publicly available circulation reports. Next month, shareholders will vote on a bid by GateHouse media to buy the Gannett chain — a move that could put jobs at The Record and other New Jersey daily newspapers in jeopardy.
Here’s what The Record did provide in Sforza’s bid to pick up subscribers:
* A full list of candidates running for local office – and ballot questions — in Bergen, Essex, Morris and Passaic counties – a research project that must have completely taxed Gannett’s investigatory skills.
* An October 22 story on legislative candidate spending.
* An October 21 story on key legislative races, updated on October 30.
* A story about the statewide referendum on property tax deductions for veterans.
* A deep dive into the North Arlington school referendum that ran on October 28.
* Coverage of the Glen Rock mayoral debate from October 18
* News of the voter registration deadline published on October 14/
* A link to a 2015 Rutgers-Eagleton poll on Assembly race turnout.
Indeed, the 10th story on the northjersey.com website from the link provided by Sforza in his pitch is one about the results of the June primary election.
In July, The Record reported that Bergen County Democratic Chairman Paul Juliano was looking to flip Assembly seats in the 39th, but until the newspaper announced their endorsements of Republicans today, there was no news of the race.
In October, The Record covered the race for Mayor of North Arlington and Passaic County Sheriff each once. There has been no coverage of contested mayoral campaigns in Rutherford and East Rutherford, despite an extraordinary presence of journalists in the region for the opening of the American Dream mall.