rips NY Times on Ratner
Charging that the New York Times has shied away from critical coverage
of Bruce Ratner’s Atlantic Yards housing, office skyscraper and basketball
arena plan because of its own land deal with the developer, about two
dozen Brooklynites gathered outside the newspaper’s Manhattan headquarters
last Thursday to draw attention to the issue.
Thing is, almost nobody covered the event.
While the more assertive members of the group descended upon any employee
of the Times who would enter or exit the building’s bronze-finished
revolving doors, no reporters from the city’s daily newspapers —
the Daily News, New York Post, New York Sun or the Times — showed
up for the 1:30 pm press conference outside the newspaper’s 229 W.
43rd St. headquarters.
The only reporters who did turn out were from Brooklyn-based weekly newspapers.
The event was spurred by the release of a 169-page report on the Times’
coverage of Atlantic Yards, authored by a freelance journalist named Norman
“About 25 people showed up,” said Daniel Goldstein, spokesman
for the anti-Atlantic Yards neighborhood group Develop-Don’t Destroy
Brooklyn, which helped publicize the independently published report and
has made it available on their Web site, www.dddb.net.
The hefty tome details the Times’ coverage of the $3.5 billion project
proposal, which Ratner’s Forest City Ratner Companies says will cost
the city $1.1 billion by the end of 30 years.
Each chapter of the report, which employs calculations used by the city’s
Economic Development Corporation, information from transcripts of public
meetings, press releases, development agreements, and a bevy of articles
that have appeared in The Brooklyn Papers and the New York Observer, among
other daily and weekly newspapers, to make the case that there have been
many gaps in the coverage by the Times.
Because Forest City Ratner is currently developing the Times Tower, where
the newspaper’s headquarters will relocate, on Eighth Avenue at 40th
Street in Manhattan, Oder wrote in the report’s introduction, “It
might be expected that the Times, the company’s flagship newspaper,
would offer thorough coverage, taking care to dispel any hint of conflict
“An assessment of the Times’ coverage of the Atlantic Yards
unearths numerous stories missed,” Oder wrote, characterizing the
reporting as “inadequate, misleading, and mostly uncritical of Forest
“The Times seems to have abandoned its responsibility to look carefully
at Bruce Ratner, Brooklyn’s largest developer,” he wrote.
The Times could not be reached for comment by press time.
Oder was inspired, he said, by an article that ran in the Times on July
5, titled “Instant Skyline Added to Arena Plan.”
“I was outraged. They already had 17 towers planned, including the
tallest building in Brooklyn,” he said.
The article also made a waves for running the exclusively obtained photographs
of a lit-up, intricate model of the buildings to be designed by Frank
Oder, a freelance reporter who has written for the Daily News, Village
Voice, New York Press, New York Newsday and Gotham Gazette, said he first
tried writing to the Times in letters to the editor which never ran, and
received no reply.
[The Times did, in its July 5 edition, run eight other letters of complaint
from Brooklynites regarding its Atlantic Yards coverage.]
Then he reached out to Develop-Don’t Destroy Brooklyn to see if the
group had done its own investigation on the Times coverage.
“I never dealt with them before,” said Oder, who then offered
to take the Gray Lady to task.
Though the groups endorsing the report include DDDB, the Fort Greene Association,
Park Slope Neighbors, the Prospect Heights Coalition and NoLandGrab.org,
in his introduction, Oder claims “final responsibility for the report.”
Goldstein said the group of protestors hit up everyone that crossed their
“We certainly believe we made people in that building aware that
this report exists,” said Goldstein. “People were coming in
and out of that building, and we leafleted everyone who came through.”
©2005 Community News Group