Thursday, April 17, 2008

Time for a Times editorial?

Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn makes a reasonable case for the New York Times to publish an editorial on Atlantic Yards--after all, there's been some dramatic news and lots of discussion lately.

However, given that several of the stories cited--including the desire for more public subsidies, criticism from a City Council Member, and an attempt to assess the public cost and subsidies--haven't appeared in the Times at all, I'd suggest that more reporting is the first order of business.

Also, how about reporting on the long leash the developer has to build the project, according to the State Funding Agreement? How about a rigorous attempt to assess the public costs and subsidies for the project, taking off from the New York Post article that got a lot of tongues wagging?

The cost of inattention

It's clear now that the Times disserved readers by not paying more attention to Atlantic Yards after the project was approved in December 2006.

As for the editorial page, in December 2006, I pointed out how the Times was silent when the key Public Authorities Control Board vote approached, even as other news outlets weighed in. The Times editorial page, I surmised, was caught between its publisher's support for developer Forest City Ratner and the fruits of its own reporting, which showed Empire State Development Corporation Chairman Charles Gargano misspeaking about eminent domain.

Some more reporting now might lead to similar gridlock. (The Times editorial page has practice with cognitive dissonance, little more than two weeks ago hailing a "real bidding process" for the Hudson Yards.) After all, the editorial page "reflects the spirit of the Times" and the opinion of the publisher, as editorial writer Carolyn Curiel said last year.

But the editorial page and the newsroom are separate. And there's lots of news to report about AY.

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