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June 27, 2011

The demise of the New York Times's once-routine Forest City Ratner disclosure (as mandated by the Public Editor), and another reason why it's meaningful

Atlantic Yards Report

The New York Times has much less frequently been appending a once routine disclosure to its articles about Forest City Ratner's Atlantic Yards project. And that's meaningful for a reason I haven't previously stressed.

Consider, for example, the 6/24/11 blog post headlined In Brooklyn, the Rats Move Out Before the Nets Move In. No disclosure appeared, though an 11/25/09 article, Ruling Lets Atlantic Yards Seize Land, contains such a disclosure:

The company, which was the development partner for the Midtown headquarters for The New York Times Company...

Disclosure dropped

No did such disclosure appear in the 6/16/11 review of the new documentary Battle for Brooklyn, the 3/17/11 article headlined Prefabricated Tower May Rise at Brooklyn's Atlantic Yards, and, more crucially, a 3/18/11 article headlined With Federal Case and Modular Building Plan, New Attention for Atlantic Yards Project.

Why was that more crucial? Because, as the headline suggests, the Times itself is responsible for part of the new attention and, as I wrote, the Times soft-pedaled a key issue: Forest City Ratner's apparent exploitation of the federal government's EB-5 investment immigration program.

Importance of disclosure

There are at least two significant reasons why disclosure is important, and one of them I haven't previously stressed.

The more obvious reason is that disclosure puts readers on alert, as well as reporters and editors, that Times coverage should be exacting--and sometimes it isn't.

The other is simply that it should put readers, reporters, and editors on notice that Times coverage should appear in the print paper, not, as with the article on rats, relegated to the City Room blog.

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Related coverage...

Atlantic Yards Report, Atlantic Yards down the memory hole: Times web site erases attribution to Public Editor Byron Calame's call for the paper's full disclosure of ties to Ratner

Posted by eric at June 27, 2011 11:34 AM