NJ Creatives Network
Written by Eileen Watkins
7 George St.
Wanaque, N.J. 07465
When The Record’s humor columnist, Bill Ervolino, had to cancel at the last minute, his boss generously filled in as guest speaker for S•W•A•N’s September meeting. Frank Scandale, Editor of The Record for the past two years, gave S•W•A•N members a glimpse of what life is like for the full-time journalist.
Scandale’s 23-year career has put him on the front lines of high-profile stories such as the Jon Benet Ramsey case, the Oklahoma City bombing trials, the Columbine shooting, and the World Trade Center disaster. Still, he admits he didn’t set out to make a career in the newspaper business.
Born in Brooklyn and raised in Westfield, New Jersey, Scandale aspired to be a creative writer. After attending Glassboro State College and the University of Copenhagen, he found himself back in Westfield doing odd jobs. He began writing for The Daily Journal, first as a stringer and then full-time. Seeing his name in print on the newspaper’s front page proved addictive. He covered criminal and political stories that brought him in contact with many lawyers, including his future wife Lorraine.
When financial troubles threatened The Daily Journal, Scandale went to a weekly travel publication. This frustrated him, though, because he could not write honestly about terrorist threats for fear of alienating advertisers. He tried Reuters for a year and a half, turning out financial wire stories. "It was the most stressful job I ever had," Scandale recalls. "People on Wall Street were betting their fortunes on the market – I didn’t dare make a mistake."
He decided the pace of a daily newspaper suited him best, and went back to The Daily Journal. When its editor, Isabelle Spencer, moved to The Denver Post, Scandale followed. He spent 10 years in Denver, rising to Assistant Managing Editor of News, and overseeing coverage of national stories. He served as lead editor and spokesman for the paper on the Ramsey case, and mustered his reporters "like an army" to cover the Columbine shootings. He admits that he saw tough reporters broken by the emotional trauma of the latter story. In daily journalism, Scandale explains, "You’re dealing with the gruesome side of life, and you don’t get paid very much."
No sooner had he returned east to The Record than the planes hit the World Trade Center towers. Scandale’s extensive "disaster experience" helped him rise to the challenge of covering that catastrophic event.
Although Scandale says there’s no such thing as a “typical” day for him, he rises near dawn to keep up with his three children, and usually arrives at work to face 100-150 waiting e-mails.
One constant is the 10:30 a.m. news meeting, at which he and fellow editors critique the previous day’s paper and plan the next day’s coverage. "I do the planning and make the final decisions," Scandale says. "I don’t edit or write, except for my own column." As proof of his ability to deal with lighter topics, he entertained the S•W•A•N audience by reading a humorous column he wrote on the differences between male and female viewpoints.
Scandale notes that his job doesn’t really stop when he leaves work – "Even when I’m off, I can’t turn it off. But it’s a challenge every day, and I know I’ll never be bored!"
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