PATERSON, NJ – The Paterson Pulse, the controversial monthly newspaper known for a subjective brand of journalism that pitted its publisher in bruising battles with elected officials he targeted, has announced that its next issue will be its last.
“Hallelujah,’’ said Councilman Aslon Goow.
“God is good,’’ said Councilman Andre Sayegh.
“It would be beneath me to comment on that,’’ said Board of Education member Jonathan Hodges.
Al three of them are among the city officials whom the Pulse’s publisher, Sirrano Keith Baldeo, has filed complaints against in court. Sayegh and Hodges, meanwhile, have filed their own charges against Baldeo.
The Pulse’s Facebook page on Friday featured a message from Baldeo. Here it is, without any changes made to the errors in grammar, punctuation or spelling: “In the next few hours the Final Issue of the Paterson pulse will hit the streets, if you are lucky to get a copy, you can read my full page editorial why it's been a great 5 years in Paterson, and the reasons..we are ending this venture. we're"Not going but Going bigger". 'their should always be change and growth when you do something.. if not you have to create it.”
It was not clear whether the financial problems that have plagued the newspaper business in New Jersey and throughout the country played a role in the Pulse’s demise.
To some residents, the Pulse was Paterson’s version of the National Enquirer. For example, over the past year, the paper ran several stories about a city police officer whom the Pulse called “the Hitler Cop.’’ It routinely ran a page of shame highlighting the Pulse’s version of the misdeeds of public officials that its publisher disliked.
Some of the paper’s practices made journalism purists cringe. For example, stories often were accompanied by photos that featured Baldeo posing with public officials who were on good terms with the publisher, especially Mayor Jeffrey Jones. In fact, a Pulse article about Jones’ “100 accomplishments” during his first few months in office later was posted on the city’s website as a “press release” and eventually was projected as a slideshow graphic during the mayor’s State of the City Address in June.
In other ways, the Pulse provided public information in a way that fulfilled its First Amendment mission. For example, it would publish the salaries of all city employees and lists of city council resolutions that authorized the expenditure of taxpayers’ money.
Baldeo’s battles with some public officials, however, ended up costing the taxpayers as well. For example, Paterson Public Schools this year paid $2,250 to cover Hodge’s legal bills for a case Baldeo brought against the schools commissioner.
Baldeo claimed that Hodges was violating the First Amendment when Hodges disposed of copies of the Pulse that had been left at a city school. But Hodges argued that he was simply protecting Paterson students from a publication he said is rife with inaccuracies and grammatical errors.
Eventually, the charges against Hodges in that case were not pursued by Passaic County authorities. Baldeo said the statute of limitations ran out.
Last winter, Baldeo, filed criminal and disorderly persons complaints against Goow over heated disputes that erupted at a city council meeting on Oct. 26, 2010 and at Pulse-sponsored election debate earlier in the fall. Goow is asking that the city appoint an attorney to represent him in that case.
Lately, Baldeo has filed charges against Sayegh and Councilman Julio Tavarez. Articles in the Pulse have accused the two of trying to intimate businesses that advertise in the paper.