Wednesday, July 26, 2006

"Near the planned Atlantic Yards"? The Times resists another correction

The caption on the photo in yesterday's New York Times blight story read:
This portion of Dean Street, between Flatbush and Sixth Avenues near the planned Atlantic Yards, is in a part of Brooklyn that a state agency has defined as blighted.

But it's not "near" the project site. I e-mailed the Times:
The caption for the article incorrectly described the portion of Dean Street pictured as being "near the planned Atlantic Yards." Actually, the street would be included in the project, with towers of 322 feet and 428 feet replacing the current buildings.

The Times responds

I got a quick response from Senior Editor Greg Brock, who oversees corrections:
I think you misread the caption. It is talking about Dean Street in the present -- as it exists now. Not what it will be in the future as part of the Atlantic Yards. Here is the caption: "This portion of Dean Street, between Flatbush and Sixth Avenues near the planned Atlantic Yards, is in a part of Brooklyn that a state agency has defined as blighted."
Delete the location and you will see the point of the caption: "This portion of Dean Street is in a part of Brooklyn that a state agency has defined as blighted."
That's talking about the present, and is correct.
The location: "between Flatbush and Sixth Avenues near the planned Atlantic Yards" is also referring to its present location. And that is correct, also.
Your note said: it would be included. Once it is included, we will refer to it that way.


[As the graphic above shows, Dean Street would be the site of two towers bordering the arena, in the southwest portion of the project site.]

Near the planned AY

I responded quickly:
I have no disagreement with the truncation: "This portion of Dean Street is in a part of Brooklyn that a state agency has defined as blighted."
But the addition of "near the planned Atlantic Yards" renders the sentence incorrect, since it suggests that the "planned Atlantic Yards" would be somewhere else. The planned Atlantic Yards would include the street.


Huge contrast

I didn't get a response, and no correction appeared today. But a correct caption would have better signaled the huge contrast between the row-house scale of Dean Street and the planned project.

The houses are roughly 50 feet tall. The planned arena would be 150 feet tall. The towers would be more than twice as tall. As architect Frank Gehry said last year, "Everything we’re building is out of scale with the existing area."

Building 2, just below the center of the arena, at Dean Street and Flatbush Avenue, would be 322 feet. Building 3, at the corner of Dean Street and Sixth Avenue--replacing the buildings in the right corner of the photo at top--would be 428 feet.

Those two buildings would be just to the right of the center in the rendering at right. The scale of the surrounding neighborhood is suggested by the tiny blocks in the lower right.

Showing the real scale

I regret having to wrangle about obvious corrections, as I've done regarding "rezoning" and the "open railyard." It distracts from the more important challenge--for me, for Times editors--of looking at larger issues. But if the Times prizes the "journalism of verification," the newspaper should be accurate.

Also, it's notable that, for whatever reason, the Times has yet to print a graphic rendering of the true scale of the project.

What if the caption had pointed out that the buildings in the photo would be replaced by an arena three times their size, and by towers six and eight times their size?

Or if the Times had produced a montage with the Dean Street buildings and a rendering of the proposed scale of the street?

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