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March 18, 2012

The Sydney Schanberg back story: "the city's newspapers, like the big politicians," were part of "the shame of Westway"

Atlantic Yards Report

The other day, in writing about the estimable Times Metro columnist Michael Powell's understandable but still dismaying decision to steer clear of the Yonkers corruption trial, I made reference to columnist Sydney Schanberg, who crossed a line with his bosses in the mid-1980s.

The episode is instructive, though it doesn't suggest direct parallels, since Schanberg was an opinion columnist, on the Op-Ed page, while Powell is a Metro columnist, his conclusions based more firmly in reporting.

Could you imagine if the Times had an Op-Ed columnist willing to critique the paper itself? What might he/she have said about that softball interview with Bruce Ratner last week, which didn't even mention the Yonkers corruption trial that, even to a business booster like Greg David of Crain's, made the company look bad?

Or what might such a columnist say about the Times's Sunday Real Estate section, which has nothing to say to the 99%--or, in New York City, maybe the 80%.

...

When Greg David of business-friendly Crain's suggests that the dailies under-covered the Yonkers trial, giving Ratner a pass, that's worth noticing. And, yes, the Times has picked up coverage of the defense case. But the newspaper missed the chance to cover the Forest City Ratner in detail.

And even in covering the defense case, the Times's beat reporter missed a piece of piquant testimony regarding Forest City Ratner's due diligence: Zehy Jereis, the fixer Forest City hired for an essentially no-show job, had such nonexistent computer skills he was incapable of creating a Word document.

(The reporter had actually left the courtroom, presumably calculating, not implausibly, that he had more than enough material from Jereis's direct testimony to fill the allotted space.)

lilnk

Posted by steve at March 18, 2012 11:37 PM