Skip to main content

Crime trumps traffic: the Post-tabloidization of the Courier-Life tabloid

Yesterday, I picked up my copy of the Park Slope Courier, part of the Courier-Life chain, and looked for any mention of the proposed traffic changes that have the neighborhood up in arms. There was no coverage of concerns or a preview of the Community Board Transportation Committee meeting Thursday (which occurred past the paper's deadline). So much for the "Your Neighborhood -- Your News" slogan.

The front page stories concerned a Park Slope man stabbed in Manhattan last weekend, a local teen who needs a transplant, and a local man convicted of molestation. Crime--and human interest--but not "our news." Oh, let's not forget--a banner advertising "The Boro's ultimate classifieds" and "16 pages of SmartSource coupons."

The latter is the result of the chain's sale last September, when the longtime family owners accepted an offer from Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. , which owns the New York Post. In the process, the Courier-Life has actually gotten worse.

It's always had weaknesses--it's less aggressive than the rival Brooklyn Paper in covering Brooklyn's neighborhoods, and co-publisher Dan Holt's chairing of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce raises questions, as the Brooklyn Paper has noted, about the paper's coziness to Brooklyn's establishment.

But it also has covered a good range of stories, and put important ones on the front page. Last week, however, the Courier-Life cover stories concerned a Prospect Heights man who has threatened Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, a new playground for a local school, and photo of a cute kid.

There was some more substantial news inside the paper. The traffic controversy got three paragraphs, at the end of an article about traffic calming on Third Avenue, with no mention of Park Slope concerns in the headline.

Looking for local news

The Brooklyn Paper has its flaws, including its own tabloid tendencies, but it's been on top of the traffic story, offering front-page coverage two straight weeks on the traffic plan. The Brooklyn Paper even covered the Thursday hearing online.

(Of course, several journalists using blogs provided faster and more substantial coverage, but the Brooklyn Paper left the Courier-Life in the dust on that one. And the Brooklyn Paper was the only outlet to offer video.)

On Thursday, I did see a photographer who contributes to the Courier-Life at the meeting, so maybe we'll see some coverage next week. Still, anyone who thinks that "GUNNING FOR KELLY" and "SHOCK OVER SLAYING" are the big news headlines in Park Slope has been spending too much time in tabloid-land.

Let's not forget the February 2 issue. The front-page headlines were "SEX FIENDS & OUR KIDS" and "Hundreds vie for glory in shopping cart race." Inside were "City doubles down on Atlantic Yards project" and "New vision for Gowanus: Rezoning plan underway."

Note: I've exempted from comparison the Brooklyn Downtown Star, to which I contribute. While it offers some substantial coverage (and more space than the other weeklies), it [clarification] is is part of a chain with only two editions aimed at Brooklyn (including the Greenpoint Star), while the above weeklies have multiple neighborhood editions. Like the Brooklyn Paper, the Downtown Star is family-owned, part of the Queens Ledger chain.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

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…

Is Barclays Center dumping the Islanders, or are they renegotiating? Evidence varies (bond doc, cash receipts); NHL attendance biggest variable

The Internet has been abuzz since Bloomberg's Scott Soshnick reported 1/30/17, using an overly conclusory headline, that Brooklyn’s Barclays Center Is Dumping the Islanders.

That would end an unusual arrangement in which the arena agrees to pay the team a fixed sum (minus certain expenses), in exchange for keeping tickets, suite, and sponsorship revenue.

The arena would earn more without the hockey team, according to Bloomberg, which cited “a financial projection shared with potential investors showed the Islanders won’t contribute any revenue after the 2018-19 season--a clear signal that the team won’t play there, the people said."

That "signal," however, is hardly definitive, as are the media leaks about a prospective new arena in Queens, as shown in the screenshot below from Newsday. Both sides are surely pushing for advantage, if not bluffing.

Consider: the arena and the Islanders can't even formally begin their opt-out talks until after this season. The disc…

Skanska says it "expected to assemble a properly designed modular building, not engage in an iterative R&D experiment"

On 12/10/16, I noted that FastCo.Design's Prefab's Moment of Reckoning article dialed back the gush on the 461 Dean modular tower compared to the publication's previous coverage.

Still, I noted that the article relied on developer Forest City Ratner and architect SHoP to put the best possible spin on what was clearly a failure. From the article: At the project's outset, it took the factory (managed by Skanska at the time) two to three weeks to build a module. By the end, under FCRC's management, the builders cut that down to six days. "The project took a little longer than expected and cost a little bit more than expected because we started the project with the wrong contractor," [Forest City's Adam] Greene says.Skanska jabs back
Well, Forest City's estranged partner Skanska later weighed in--not sure whether they weren't asked or just missed a deadline--and their article was updated 12/13/16. Here's Skanska's statement, which shows th…

Not just logistics: bypassing Brooklyn for DNC 2016 also saved on optics (role of Russian oligarch, Shanghai government)

Surely the logistical challenges of holding a national presidential nominating convention in Brooklyn were the main (and stated) reasons for the Democratic National Committee's choice of Philadelphia.

And, as I wrote in NY Slant, the huge security cordon in Philadelphia would have been impossible in Brooklyn.

But consider also the optics. As I wrote in my 1/21/15 op-ed in the Times arguing that the choice of Brooklyn was a bad idea:
The arena also raises ethically sticky questions for the Democrats. While the Barclays Center is owned primarily by Forest City Ratner, 45 percent of it is owned by the Russian billionaire Mikhail D. Prokhorov (who also owns 80 percent of the Brooklyn Nets). Mr. Prokhorov has a necessarily cordial relationship with Russia’s president, Vladimir V. Putin — though he has been critical of Mr. Putin in the past, last year, at the Russian president’s request, he tried to transfer ownership of the Nets to one of his Moscow-based companies. An oligarch-owned a…

Former ESDC CEO Lago returns to NYC to head City Planning Commission

Carl Weisbrod, Mayor Bill de Blasio's City Planning Commission Chairman and Director of the Department of City Planning, is resigning,

And he's being replaced by Marisa Lago, currently a federal official, but who Atlantic Yards-ologists remember as the short-term Empire State Development Corporation CEO who, in an impolitic but candid 2009 statement, acknowledged that the project would take "decades."

Still, Lago not long after that played the good soldier at a May 2009 Senate oversight hearing, justifying changes in the project but claiming the public benefits remained the same.

By returning to City Planning, Lago will join former ESDC General Counsel Anita Laremont, who after retiring from the state (and taking a pension) got the job with the city.

Back at planning

Lago, a lawyer, in 1983 began work as an aide to City Planning Chairman Herb Sturz, and later served as the General Counsel to the president of the NYC Economic Development Corporation, Weisbrod himself.