Sunday, December 31, 2006

Forest City Ratner and the Courier-Life chain: payback time?

The two weekly chain newspapers in Brooklyn have distinct identities. The broadsheet Brooklyn Papers, family-owned, is based in DUMBO and focuses on the neighborhoods of Brownstone Brooklyn. The tabloid Courier-Life chain, based in Sheepshead Bay, is a major supporter of the Chamber of Commerce (its publisher chairs the group, and the chain publishes the Chamber's newspaper) and was recently purchased by the New York Post.

The Brooklyn Papers has editorialized against Forest City Ratner's Atlantic Yards plan and covered it critically, while the Courier-Life has endorsed it and covered it more gently. In fact, the December 15 issue contained the double-whammy of an editorial and an op-ed by Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz, which sounded like a press release from the developer.

Actually, it was a triple-whammy. That week's paper included another boost for the plan, a two-page centerfold of project renderings from architect Frank Gehry and landscape architect Laurie Olin. Given that there was no text other than "The Future of Atlantic Yards," it sure didn't look like a piece crafted by the editorial department. Then again, it wasn't labeled an advertisement.

Saying thanks

In this week's issues of the Courier-Life, we get an advertisement from the developer, labeled "Thank You New York." That's a bit odd, given that the project web site, which presumably reaches a broader constituency, banners "Thank You Brooklyn."

Notable is the citation of $1 billion in "net tax revenue." (Actually, the state now estimates $944 million, which omits many subsidies and public costs.) Two weeks ago, Cymbrowitz wrote $1.3 billion. And the Atlantic Yards web site still uses a misrepresentative cumulative total that ignores costs, $5.6 billion.

There's no ad in the Brooklyn Papers this week. But there is that revealing interview with Borough President Marty Markowitz.

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