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July 17, 2009

Courier-Life's Witt responds to letter, misses the point completely

Atlantic Yards Report

More brutal weirdness from Courier-Life "reporter" Stephen Witt.

I wrote a letter June 15 to the Courier-Life chain complaining about unfounded criticism of me; rather than publishing it in the first issue possible, the newspaper has waited until the fifth issue, with a similarly unfounded response from reporter Stephen Witt.
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Witt's response

Stephen Witt responds:
Mr. Oder,
Rev. Daughtry deserves his say. The fact that many longtime community people support the project has been largely ignored by all the media, including your highly speculative brand of "citizen journalism." I do note that since my article came out you and a few other media outlets that push the public agenda are beginning to include these views. I also don't agree with journalists that buy into your view that Rev. Daughtry and other groups who signed the CBA are somehow tainted as sources because Ratner helped fund their non-profits. These groups represent thousands of people of all income levels. They are respected in the community and their points of view are just as valid as those who oppose the project. I suggested you take your "brutally weird" self down to the BUILD office and speak to those in the waiting room looking for work.

My rebuttal

It's not a question of whether Rev. Daughtry deserves his say; surely he has been having his say, especially while heckling at the May 29 state Senate oversight hearing.

It's just that, as I wrote, Daughtry's arguments are debatable, and Witt ignores countervailing evidence, such as my citation of Daughtry's longtime ally Charles Barron, an Atlantic Yards opponent, and the long delays in delivering the benefits Daughtry seeks.

Witt ignores the evidence I provide regarding whether I have contacted Daughtry or learned "his side."

Witt initially disparaged me by writing that "many media outlets utilize [my blog] for information without checking his facts," but offered no evidence of errors in my work. He continues to do so in his response, citing my "highly speculative brand of 'citizen journalism.'"

Highly speculative and "brutally weird"? I think that applies to the "real land-grabbers" quote Witt dutifully published.

Yes, I've been to the BUILD office. I recognize that large construction projects create jobs and that people involved in groups and unions that train people or organize workers have an interest in seeing those projects go forward. But that doesn't obviate the responsibility to examine the project.

Witt suggests that it's simply "my view" that groups that signed the CBA are tainted as sources. I direct him to experts on CBAs like Good Jobs New York, Good Jobs First, and the Partnership for Working Families.

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Posted by eric at July 17, 2009 11:09 AM