« Developers Say Labor Pact Saves Less Than Claimed | Main | Atlantic Yards YES! Late-night subway riders NO!! »

April 30, 2009

Atlantic Yards through the looking glass

If you can wrap your head around this... NoLandGrab.org was referenced in Atlantic Yards Report's article analyzing a UK mag Prospect Magazine cover story that referenced the Atlantic Yards fight and Atlantic Yards Report.

In other words, not only is Bruce Ratner's Atlantic Yards a poster project for eminent domain abuse, massive public subsidization of the private sector, lack of transparency, and piss-poor urban planning, but the media culture that has emerged from this shameful real estate morass is now a self-referencing "case study" of how new media is shaping and responding to citizens' new news diet.

Atlantic Yards Report, In debate about the future of news, AY and AYR become a case study

In the UK's Prospect magazine, the cover story, an epistolary debate between author (and Outside.in founder) Steven Johnson and Princeton professor of communications and public affairs Paul Starr, is headlined Will the coming age of news be better than the old?

Interestingly enough, both the optimistic Johnson and pessimistic Starr cite Atlantic Yards and AYR to buttress their arguments.

I think that any discussion of the media ecology around Atlantic Yards needs several explanatory footnotes, which I offer below, but I believe that the volunteer media response to Atlantic Yards is an unusual phenomenon, not easily duplicable, which places me much closer to Starr's camp.

Someone has to do the work of journalism--reading documents, showing up at meetings, asking questions, making analytical connections over a period of time--and it's not easy.

Prospect, Will the coming age of news be better than the old?

Steven Johnson:

Let’s talk about what it’s like in my home town, Brooklyn, right now. You talk about the decline in state government reporting in New Jersey. For the past three years, the dominant civic issue in Brooklyn has been a controversy over the Atlantic Yards, a big urban redevelopment project. On Outside.in the page for the Atlantic Yards brings together news, reporting, commentary and chatter. There are 30 stories from the past five days. The New York Times print edition ran exactly one story mentioning it in the past month.

How much richer will coverage of an important civic issue like Atlantic Yards be in five years?

Paul Starr in reponse:

Let’s take a closer look at your business, Outside.in, and see whether it is a substitute for professional journalism. I see that when you launched Outside.in in October 2006, you used the same Atlantic Yards example. It’s two-and-a-half years later, and I’m sure by now you must have a second. But anyone looking around your site will see that investigative reporting is not what it does. From what I could tell, it doesn’t do any reporting of its own. It aggregates what appears elsewhere. There seems to be no standard of relevance or significance. And if what appears elsewhere is garbage, it helps to spread that garbage because, by its nature, an automated news site lacks the one thing that every good editor has­—a crap detector.

NoLandGrab: To Starr's point, if anything, NoLandGrab.org, though primarily a news aggregator, has spent the last five years being an Atlantic Yards "crap detector." Ironically, we assumed this responsibility because the old media abdicated theirs, which leaves us WHERE in this debate?

Posted by lumi at April 30, 2009 6:06 AM