Friday, May 11, 2007

AY court hearing, added coverage (& Blogfest notes)

The May 3 court hearing regarding the lawsuit over the Atlantic Yards environmental review was fascinating, which is why I wrote an article--something of an annotated transcript--of more than 5000 words for my blog on deadline. I revised my coverage and cut it by more than half for the more general audience in this week's Brooklyn Downtown Star.

This week's Brooklyn Paper, in an article headlined Judge: What is Yards benefit?, offers the only other coverage, with some skepticism from Brooklyn Law School Professor David Reiss about the petitioners' claim that the planned Brooklyn arena is not a "civic project" under state law.

The article, however, doesn't go into the extensive debate about whether the state's definition of blight, as applied to the Atlantic Yards site, is arbitrary and capricious, and the judge's skepticism toward the Empire State Development Corporation's stance.

Blogfest notes

Last night, at the packed Second Annual Brooklyn Blogfest, I pointed out that the hearing should've been covered by the mainstream media.

Organizer Louise Crawford, who presided over an ever-growing event which next year must find a venue larger than the Old Stone House, reports that there were reporters from the New York Times, Daily News, and Washington Post in attendance. (I got there late and didn't know.)
So I assume they heard my comment about how Times Executive Editor Bill Keller claims that the newspaper practices the "journalism of verification" and bloggers don't. He's more right than wrong, I said, but "sometimes we're more right than wrong." And I'd say Atlantic Yards is a prime example.

Update on the Times's coverage

On the Times's Empire Zone blog today, the we get a rather detailed account, with some curious omissions, somewhat whimsically (or is it disparagingly?) headlined Out of Brooklyn, Endlessly Blogging. (Update: Yes, I know it's a Whitman reference; it's a tad disparaging if you think it relegates bloggers as "endless" typists rather than legit analysts.)

Of the six bloggers who spoke, here's the (crude) tally of paragraphs in the Times's account:
Steven Berlin Johnson, Outside.in, 3
Lumi Michelle Rolley, noLandGrab, 5
Robert Guskind, Gowanus Lounge, 6
Jonathan Butler, Brownstoner, 4
Norman Oder, Atlantic Yards Report, 2
Eleanor Traubman, Creative Times, 3.

Hm. I would've at least hoped that Johnson's citation of Clinton Hill as the "bloggiest" neighborhood, which was noted by the Times, would've been followed up with a mention of my criticism of their method. Last night, I pointed out that, of 30 posts on Outside.in's Clinton Hill page earlier in the day Thursday, only five were about that neighborhood, while 13 were about Prospect Heights and Atlantic Yards.

The Times's account of my presentation:
Like Ms. Rolley, Mr. Oder runs a blog that is devoted to criticizing the Atlantic Yards project, but he took pains to note that he sees himself as a journalist first.
“It’s commentary, it’s analysis, it’s reportage, but I really do call myself a journalist who uses a blog, because it’s easy to dismiss bloggers,” he said. “There are enough bloggers who are just noodling around their own personal musings that they manage to allow people who don’t understand us, who don’t read what we do carefully, to dismiss us.”


I described myself as a critic, but if this blog only included criticism of Atlantic Yards, a lot of nuance and detail would be lacking. Last month, the Times offered this more neutral description:
Norman Oder, who runs a blog devoted to Atlantic Yards issues...

The Times's defense

Regarding Rolley, the Times offered this strained parenthetical:
(She was particularly critical of The New York Times. Forest City Ratner is the development partner building the new Midtown headquarters of The New York Times Company. Business executives involved with that effort have played no role in the news coverage of Atlantic Yards, which a recent article about new legal challenges noted was “one of the biggest construction projects in the city’s history.”)

Most critics of the Times's Atlantic Yards coverage don't allege interference. As I've argued repeatedly, the business relationship imposes an obligation for the Times to produce exacting coverage, and the Times has not done so.

Beyond the cape

There are a ton of photos on Flickr. Yes, I put on the "superhero" cape, which Rolley presented to me upon my introduction. Believe me, I had no inkling of it.

Bob Guskind of the Gowanus Lounge offered some generous observations in the midst of his lengthy Blogfest recap:
As if to prove that even the most serious of Brooklyn bloggers have an exceptional sense of humor, Atlantic Yards Report's Mr. Oder--who is renowned for his in-depth and authoritative coverage of Atlantic Yards--was given a super hero cape as an "Uber Blogger" and wore the red cape while making his remarks. He discussed "the journalism of verification" and noted that AYR is "a piece of journalism" and that many blogs adhering to serious journalistic standards can be found around Brooklyn

Here's the Dope on the Slope post, as well.

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