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December 31, 2007

The NYT on AY, 2007: fit to blog, fit to print?

Atlantic Yards Report

How's the "Paper of Record" and Forest City Ratner business partner doing in regard to its coverage of Atlantic Yards?

Some important news about Atlantic Yards this year has appeared only in the online version of the New York Times, not the print edition of the Paper of Record, and some has been ignored completely, some has been distorted, and some has been delayed. (And, yes, some important news appeared in the Times first.)

The other daily newspapers have been quite variable, too, in their coverage of AY; the dailies can't even keep up with the daily flow of news, much less advance the story with enterprise reporting and investigations.

While the advance of the Times's City Room blog holds some promise for more comprehensive local coverage, the dailies can't keep up with AY; readers have to keep consulting blogs, the Brooklyn media, and the New York Observer. The Times

In 2007, The New York Times had one story about security concerns at the proposed Nets arena, which started in its City Room blog and later made it to the print edition.

There were some stories that appeared online, but never made it to a print edition:

-The departure of disgraced City Planning Commissioner Dolly Williams.
-The much-delayed appointment of an Atlantic Yards ombudsman by the ESDC.

Some stories just never appeared on The Times's radar at all:

-The Ward Bakery violations.
-Arguments heard in the Atlantic Yards environmental lawsuit.
-Deputy Mayor Dan Doctoroff's misgivings on theAtlantic Yards approval process.

There were stories delayed or distorted:

-A delay in reporting the additional $105 million in the city's budget for Atlantic Yards.
-A distortion on a magistrate judge's recommendation that the federal eminent domain suit be dismissed.
-Repeating that the proposed Net arena would open in 2009.

The Times does earn good marks for one story:

The Times did have a scoop regarding documents unearthed in a lawsuit filed by Assemblyman Jim Brennan and State Senator Velmanette Montgomery. I found the report murky, but the documents did (and still could) provide fodder for more analysis, such as the projected rental rate of apartments.

This was the only example of enterprise reporting--driven by journalistic curiosity rather than a reaction to events or press releases--regarding AY that appeared in the Times. And it's fairly clear that the story was generated by Brennan's calculation that the best way to release the documents was via the Times.

Otherwise, the Times (and the dailies, in general) are having enough trouble just keeping up with the news.


Posted by steve at December 31, 2007 7:25 AM