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January 3, 2010

Atlantic Yards Report Sunday Media Supplement

Author Jimmy Breslin: "People are getting away with murder all over the place, and the papers have a chance to say something about it"

Norman Oder knows a cure for Atlantic Yards when he sees one.

Perhaps it was sly subversion, perhaps it was guilt, but in a New York Times Metropolitan section cover story today headlined New York’s Resolutions, an effort to solicit advice for the city, the respondent placed first took a swing at the Times and its brethren:

Jimmy Breslin, 80

Author and newspaperman

First, you’ve got to find a way to get rid of Albany. They’ve got people up there — I mean, all you have to do is look at what they’re up to. For 30 years, they let this guy Bruno, for example, just go on and on and on. It’s the seat of larceny, so I say just get rid of it.

Then you have to start a real newspaper. Do the newspapers today even attack anybody anymore? They had Bloomberg winning by a mile and a half. The people know more than the newspapers and the television does. They sure knew not to like Bloomberg as much as they were told to. People are getting away with murder all over the place, and the papers have a chance to say something about it. But they just don’t do it.

Newsweek contributor Kotkin: Bloomberg needs to make a public policy shift away from projects like AY

Well, someone's responded to Jimmy Breslin's call to be tough on Mayor Mike Bloomberg, but it's not the local daily newspapers. Writes Newsweek contributor Joel Kotkin:

But as Bloomberg begins his new term, New York needs to reexamine its core economic strategy.

...Nurturing these neighborhoods will require a distinct shift in public policy. During the Bloomberg years the big subsidies have gone to luxury condo megadevelopments, sports stadiums, or huge office complexes. Consider the 22-acre Atlantic Yards project in downtown Brooklyn, which will include luxury housing and a new arena for the NBA's Nets; one recent report by the city's Independent Budget Office put the total subsidies provided by the city, New York state, and the transit authority at $726 million and estimated the project will hurt, not help, the city's economy over time.

Of course, AY is promoted as including more than luxury housing; the questions are how much of the subsidized affordable housing would be available to members of ACORN, which signed an agreement with Forest City Ratner, and how much the housing would cost relative to subsidized housing elsewhere.

New York Times Public Editor Hoyt focuses on freelancers, continues to ignore the Times's lapses covering Atlantic Yards

During the course of the Atlantic Yards fight, much of the New York Times' coverage has been less than stellar. A less patient person might just quit trying to get the Times to correct its coverage of the project and business partner, Bruce Ratner. But Norman Oder perseveres.

New York Times Public Editor Clark Hoyt today writes about three episodes in which the newspaper's ethics guidelines were not followed by freelancers.

In only one case did the violation lead to a tainted product on the page, so I'm dismayed that Hoyt played the issue so prominently--he could've put most of the column on the web. Meanwhile, he remains obdurately unaware of the Times's inability to cover the Atlantic Yards project, or to even disclose its business relationship with Atlantic Yards developer Forest City Ratner.

In other words, he should focus on how readers are being served.

In two recent cases--FCR's bailout of ACORN and the revision of the Barclays Center naming rights deal--the Times slipped in information either parenthetically or at the end of the article, thus downplaying significant news.

Posted by steve at January 3, 2010 5:38 PM