Skip to main content

A response to the New Yorker on bloggers and journalism

New York Times Public Editor Byron Calame's blog points to "a most thoughtful analysis of the current state of Internet journalism," a New Yorker article by Nicholas Lemann headlined Amateur Hour: Journalism without journalists.

I think Lemann--and by extension Calame--gives too little credit to Internet journalism; then again, I have a very Atlantic Yards-centric view of the blogosphere, and I can point to numerous examples where the bloggers (not just myself) best the mainstream media.

Lemann writes:
The more ambitious blogs, taken together, function as a form of fast-moving, densely cross-referential pamphleteering—an open forum for every conceivable opinion that can’t make its way into the big media, or, in the case of the millions of purely personal blogs, simply an individual’s take on life. The Internet is also a venue for press criticism... But none of that yet rises to the level of a journalistic culture rich enough to compete in a serious way with the old media—to function as a replacement rather than an addendum.

Well, my blog offers much more original reporting and analysis regarding the Atlantic Yards project than can be found in the MSM and NoLandGrab aggregates everything related to the project, often with a corrective or analytical or even sardonic comment. I've covered public events in much greater detail than in the MSM, and broken story after story from documents. Jonathan Cohn's blog Brooklyn Views has led discussion of Floor Area Ratio and the project's scale.

After all, even the Times acknowledged--in an article that skated around many of the issues that the bloggers have raised--that this project has stimulated an enormous amount of criticism and response from the blogosphere.

New vs. old media

Lemann writes:
The most fervent believers in the transforming potential of Internet journalism are operating not only on faith in its achievements, even if they lie mainly in the future, but on a certainty that the old media, in selecting what to publish and broadcast, make horrible and, even worse, ignobly motivated mistakes.

Well, sometimes the mistakes are just miscues, arrogantly defended, sometimes they are corrected belatedly, and sometimes even the Public Editor doesn't see clearly.

Looking at examples

Lemann takes a jaundiced view:
Citizen journalists bear a heavy theoretical load. They ought to be fanning out like a great army, covering not just what professional journalists cover, as well or better, but also much that they ignore. Great citizen journalism is like the imagined Northwest Passage—it has to exist in order to prove that citizens can learn about public life without the mediation of professionals. But when one reads it, after having been exposed to the buildup, it is nearly impossible not to think, This is what all the fuss is about?

His examples are some often-amateurish stuff: most would be familiar to anybody who has ever read a church or community newsletter...but it does not mount the collective challenge to power which the traditional media are supposedly too timid to take up.

Well, he should be reading more widely.

It's about reporting

I believe in the "journalism of verification," and Lemann does too:
Even at its best and most ambitious, citizen journalism reads like a decent Op-Ed page, and not one that offers daring, brilliant, forbidden opinions that would otherwise be unavailable. Most citizen journalism reaches very small and specialized audiences and is proudly minor in its concerns.
...To keep pushing in that direction, though, requires that we hold up original reporting as a virtue and use the Internet to find new ways of presenting fresh material—which, inescapably, will wind up being produced by people who do that full time, not “citizens” with day jobs.


Well, I do this in (most of) my off hours, and that adds up to much more focus than the reporters that have to consider Atlantic Yards in the context of much-broader coverage of Brooklyn and beyond.

As journalism professor (and former New York Newsday Brooklyn Bureau chief) Paul Moses wrote in a column about Brooklyn and the media, "Nowhere in the country do so many people get so little local coverage."

Jeff Jarvis's response

Journalism professor and citizen journalism proponent Jeff Jarvis responded to Lemann:
So Lemann continues to paint this as a fight: bloggers v. journalists. He continues to try to define journalists as the professionals, to define the act by the person who performs it (and, implicitly, the training he has) rather than by the act itself. He continues to try to limit journalism to journalists, wanting in his last line for reporters (note, he didn’t say reporting) to move to citizens’ journalism....
I so wish I had seen him instead imagine the possibilities for news when journalists and bloggers join to work together in a network made possible by the internet. I wish he had seen journalism expanded way past the walls of newsrooms and j-schools to gather and share more information for an informed society. I wish he had used his lofty perch to see beyond the horizon to a new future for journalism and the students he — and I — are teaching now.


Jarvis continues:
Once again: This is not about replacing the professionals. This is about complementing them, improving their work with additional questions and facts, doing the things they can’t do because there are not enough of them. I would hope that Lemann would see the opportunities for journalism schools and journalism to spread what they know so that journalism can be practiced more widely.

Indeed, what journalist in New York has the time to try to read and analyze the Empire State Development Corporation's Draft Environmental Impact Statement?

Comments

  1. Journalists vs. bloggers....Isn't there a bit of good ol' job security at play here?

    And frankly, I find it a little funny that someone is defending err....the New York Times....as some sort of standard of professionalism (jason blair, judith miller, et al).

    Journalists could do a much better job than bloggers - but at this point - the special interests that dictate their agenda, or shield world view - even in New York City - prevent them from doing so. How long did it take 'professionals' to realize there was opposition to Atlantic Yards? Longer than it should have, since they were too busy sitting on their asses listening to what Forest City PR men were telling them.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Lets not forget the professionals actually get paid, so they do their half assed work then go for coffee, while bloggers work all day doing something else, then come home and do what the journalists should have been doing.

    I really have nothing nice to say about the entrenched media and their constant assault on independant media. There are many good journalists, but there is also a huge set of hacks all being paid by news papers and tv companies. I think it is an endless source of amusement that they all go to Columbia or Yale to learn how to do research and write, and then they get out and half the time their reporting is boring and empty. They should be embarrassed... in fact I am sure they are.

    Calame should take a turn at exposing how lame it is that many NYTimes stories are just rewrites of the AP wire.

    ReplyDelete
  3. It might be useful to take a look at ohmynews.com. This is a very successful business model that has developed in So Korea that is based on citizen journalism.

    It is probably relevent that So Korea made probably the greatest investment in broadband in the world, and so some of the most innovative solutions are starting there.

    I'm afraid the traditional provincialism of America will now start taking it's toll, as innovations are coming from the edges.

    The discussion about citizen journalism is still in the talking stages here in the States. In Korea, my understanding is that ohmynews.com is a serious player, with massive coverage, and grew in a few years to challenge the "traditional" media.

    You can judge for yourself at http://english.ohmynews.com

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Barclays Center/Levy Restaurants hit with suit charging discrimination on disability, race; supervisors said to use vicious slurs, pursue retaliation

The Daily News has an article today, Barclays Center hit with $5M suit claiming discrimination against disabled, while the New York Post headlined its article Barclays Center sued over taunting disabled employees.

While that's part of the lawsuit, more prominent are claims of racial discrimination and retaliation, with black employees claiming repeated abuse by white supervisors, preferential treatment toward Hispanic colleagues, and retaliation in response to complaints.

Two individual supervisors, for example, are charged with  referring to black employees as “black motherfucker,” “dumb black bitch,” “black monkey,” “piece of shit” and “nigger.”

Two have referred to an employee blind in one eye as “cyclops,” and “the one-eyed guy,” and an employee with a nose disorder as “the nose guy.”

There's been no official response yet though arena spokesman Barry Baum told the Daily News they, but take “allegations of this kind very seriously” and have "a zero tolerance policy for…

Behind the "empty railyards": 40 years of ATURA, Baruch's plan, and the city's diffidence

To supporters of Forest City Ratner's Atlantic Yards project, it's a long-awaited plan for long-overlooked land. "The Atlantic Yards area has been available for any developer in America for over 100 years,” declared Borough President Marty Markowitz at a 5/26/05 City Council hearing.

Charles Gargano, chairman of the Empire State Development Corporation, mused on 11/15/05 to WNYC's Brian Lehrer, “Isn’t it interesting that these railyards have sat for decades and decades and decades, and no one has done a thing about them.” Forest City Ratner spokesman Joe DePlasco, in a 12/19/04 New York Times article ("In a War of Words, One Has the Power to Wound") described the railyards as "an empty scar dividing the community."

But why exactly has the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s Vanderbilt Yard never been developed? Do public officials have some responsibility?

At a hearing yesterday of the Brooklyn Borough Board Atlantic Yards Committee, Kate Suisma…

Forest City acknowledges unspecified delays in Pacific Park, cites $300 million "impairment" in project value; what about affordable housing pledge?

Updated Monday Nov. 7 am: Note follow-up coverage of stock price drop and investor conference call and pending questions.

Pacific Park Brooklyn is seriously delayed, Forest City Realty Trust said yesterday in a news release, which further acknowledged that the project has caused a $300 million impairment, or write-down of the asset, as the expected revenues no longer exceed the carrying cost.

The Cleveland-based developer, parent of Brooklyn-based Forest City Ratner, which is a 30% investor in Pacific Park along with 70% partner/overseer Greenland USA, blamed the "significant impairment" on an oversupply of market-rate apartments, the uncertain fate of the 421-a tax break, and a continued increase in construction costs.

While the delay essentially confirms the obvious, given that two major buildings have not launched despite plans to do so, it raises significant questions about the future of the project, including:
if market-rate construction is delayed, will the affordable h…

Revising official figures, new report reveals Nets averaged just 11,622 home fans last season, Islanders drew 11,200 (and have option to leave in 2018)

The Brooklyn Nets drew an average of only 11,622 fans per home game in their most recent (and lousy) season, more than 23% below the announced official attendance figure, and little more than 65% of the Barclays Center's capacity.

The New York Islanders also drew some 19.4% below announced attendance, or 11,200 fans per home game.

The surprising numbers were disclosed in a consultant's report attached to the Preliminary Official Statement for the refinancing of some $462 million in tax-exempt bonds for the Barclays Center (plus another $20 million in taxable bonds). The refinancing should lower costs to Mikhail Prokhorov, owner of the arena operating company, by and average of $3.4 million a year through 2044 in paying off arena construction.

According to official figures, the Brooklyn Nets attendance averaged 17,187 in the debut season, 2012-13, 17,251 in 2013-14, 17,037 in 2014-15, and 15,125 in the most recent season, 2015-16. For hoops, the arena holds 17,732.

But official…

So, Forest City has some property subject to the future Gowanus rezoning

Writing yesterday, MAP: Who Owns All the Property Along the Gowanus Canal, DNAinfo's Leslie Albrecht lays out the positioning of various real estate players along the Gowanus Canal, a Superfund site:
As the city considers whether to rezone Gowanus and, perhaps, morph the gritty low-rise industrial area into a hot new neighborhood of residential towers (albeit at a fraction of the height of Manhattan's supertall buildings), DNAinfo reviewed property records along the canal to find out who stands to benefit most from the changes.
Investors have poured at least $440 million into buying land on the polluted waterway and more than a third of the properties have changed hands in the past decade, according to an examination of records for the nearly 130 properties along the 1.8-mile canal. While the single largest landowner is developer Property Markets Group, other landowners include Kushner Companies, Alloy Development, Two Trees, and Forest City New York.

Forest City's plans unc…

At 550 Vanderbilt, big chunk of apartments pitched to Chinese buyers as "international units"

One key to sales at the 550 Vanderbilt condo is the connection to China, thanks to Shanghai-based developer Greenland Holdings.

It's the parent of Greenland USA, which as part of Greenland Forest City Partners owns 70% of Pacific Park (except 461 Dean and the arena).

And sales in China may help explain how the developer was able to claim early momentum.
"Since 550 Vanderbilt launched pre-sales in June [2015], more than 80 residences have gone into contract, representing over 30% of the building’s 278 total residences," the developer said in a 9/25/15 press release announcing the opening of a sales gallery in Brooklyn. "The strong response from the marketplace indicates the high level of demand for well-designed new luxury homes in Brooklyn..."

Maybe. Or maybe it just meant a decent initial pipeline to Chinese buyers.

As lawyer Jay Neveloff, who represents Forest City, told the Real Deal in 2015, a project involving a Chinese firm "creates a huge market for…