Saturday, August 01, 2009

In the Brooklyn Paper, a tale of a rebel flag trumps Atlantic Yards coverage

Nope, coverage of Atlantic Yards didn't make the front page of the Brooklyn Paper this week.

It should have. There was big news ready for the paper's deadline--not just the fallout from the informational meeting held July 22 but at least the first part of Wednesday's public hearing held by the Empire State Development Corporation.

But the lead story--the most important news of the week, in the judgment of the paper's editors--concerns a Bay Ridge man who hung a Confederate flag out the window. (Click on graphics to enlarge)

That kind of tabloid story has little civic significance.. It doesn't even sell papers, as the Brooklyn Paper is given away.

Most of the other main stories are legit: the Coney Island rezoning, the controversy over a group that trashed Prospect Park, and the return of Brooklynite and "front-running Public Advocate candidate Bill de Blasio" to the ballot. (Despite definitive information about de Blasio's low status in the polls posted as a comment on the newspaper's web article, the print coverage maintained the distortion.)

Then again, there was a story about a quirky liquor store owner leaving town. That was more important than Atlantic Yards?

And the coverage

Coverage of Brooklyn's biggest project--a source of unending controversy--appears on page 5 (below), with an overview article and a set of mini-interviews

The Brooklyn Paper's coverage wasn't bad, within constraints of time and space, but the claim that supporters and opponents were merely "rehashing familiar arguments" is simply wrong.

A number of elected officials and civic groups called for a Supplementary Environmental Impact Statement in light of the implied changes in the project and the many unknown elements. And the failure of the Empire State Development Corporation to produce a new site plan and economic analysis, plus the inability for the police to review security before the arena design is approved, also generated outrage.

That's news. And, not all that long ago, when the Brooklyn Paper was independently owned and quite focused on Atlantic Yards--much smaller AY stories were overblown and placed on the front page. (Remember the picture of Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn spokesman Daniel Goldstein's baby? Or Forest City Ratner's erroneous web claim that architect Frank Gehry was born in Brooklyn?)

But the Paper's Atlantic Yards coverage has diminished somewhat since the newspaper was bought earlier this year by Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation.

In the letters

The Brooklyn Paper editors surely know Atlantic Yards is a significant story. After all, they published a whole sidebar on the Letters page with excerpts from comments posted on the paper's online coverage of the July 22 information session.

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