Thursday, March 13, 2008

"Brooklyn-born" Gehry claim gone from AY web site; what about "Downtown Brooklyn?"

Last week, as I reported, Forest City Ratner was still claiming, on its official Atlantic Yards web site that architect Frank Gehry was born in Brooklyn.

That's not true, and it was confirmed in the architect's own words.

The switcheroo

Now that the whistle has been blown a couple of times, the developer has tweaked the page at issue, and the Brooklyn-born" claim has been excised.

What about "Downtown Brooklyn"?

If Forest City Ratner is aiming for fidelity, maybe it's time to reconsider the claim that Atlantic Yards is in Downtown Brooklyn. (Arguably, it would significantly extend the boundaries.) The New York Times in April 2006 finally agreed the project isn't in Downtown Brooklyn, publishing a mega-correction.

Press critic Allan Wolper, writing in the June 2006 issue of Editor & Publisher, wondered why the developer hadn't made the correction in its own materials:
But two days later, Forest City Ratner hadn’t corrected its Web site, which described the project as being in downtown Brooklyn. That’s why it’s so dangerous for the paper to into business with corporations they are supposed to be monitoring.

Covering developer p.r.

No correction ever came. The Times has mostly neglected the developer's p.r.--which I've suggested should be treated as campaign advertising--and has even saluted it.

In an unskeptical 10/14/05 article headlined To Build Arena, Developer First Builds Bridges, the Times reported:
Forest City Ratner also contracted with Knickerbocker SKD, a media consultant, to produce two promotional mailings, each going to more than 300,000 households in Brooklyn. They oversaw publication of a newspaper-style brochure, dubbed The Brooklyn Standard. More recently, Forest City retained the Terrie Williams Agency, a prominent black-owned public relations firm, to represent those groups that signed the community-benefits agreement.

More than two years later, the effort is not the "modern blueprint" the Times posited.

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