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August 3, 2011

Journalism of verification? Times Public Editor concurs that confirmation by Nets/Ratner (without document or Barclays) sufficient to report naming rights deal still worth "nearly $400 million"

Atlantic Yards Report

The Times, they're not a-changin'.

Is the Barclays Center naming rights deal really worth "nearly $400 million," as the New York Times reported 7/19/11? There are many reasons for doubt.

However, as in the past, the office of the New York Times Public Editor, the independent, newspaper-paid readers' representative, has given its blessing to the Times's inadequate reporting.

In this case, the Public Editor accepted as sufficient evidence assertions by the New Jersey Nets and Forest City Ratner, despite much circumstantial and documentary evidence that the deal was worth less, including a report by an FCR-commissioned consultant valuing the deal at $200 million, the loss of architect Frank Gehry, and two renegotiations.

Worse, the Public Editor's office, failing to understand the basic nature of deal, told me that the Times had "checked with both parties involved in the transaction," the Nets and Ratner.

Actually, I responded, those two are one side of the deal; the counter-party is Barclays Capital.

Was that taken seriously? No. I was blown off.

So much for the "journalism of verification," the distinguishing factor, according to Times Executive Editor Bill Keller, between his newspaper's work and bloggers' journalism of "assertion."

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NoLandGrab: In which case, we can surely expect a Times front-page story any day now about the 15,000 construction workers building the Barclays Center — as verified by Bruce Ratner and Brett Yormark.

Posted by eric at August 3, 2011 9:07 AM