Skip to main content

CNG watch: Courier-Life editor leaves, Brooklyn Paper's Kuntzman takes over; two chains start sharing more content

Not surprisingly, the New York Post's Community Newspaper Group (CNG) has moved toward consolidating its two chains in Brooklyn, the Brooklyn Paper and the Courier-Life.

The evidence? The departure of the latter's editor and increased sharing of copy among the two chains.

As can be seen by a close look at the Courier-Life mastheads from last week (below) and this week, longtime Courier-Life Editor Kenneth Brown has been replaced by Brooklyn Paper Gersh Kuntzman.

Moreover, the lead article in at least one edition of the Courier-Life, my local Park Slope Courier, contains the same article on Prospect Park's "meadows of shame" that appeared on the front page of the Brooklyn Paper, written by a Brooklyn Paper reporter.

Meanwhile, the Brooklyn Paper prominently features Courier-Life reporter Stephen Witt's questionable coverage of the seemingly dubious lawsuit filed by City Council Member Letitia James. (More on that below.)

What does it mean?

What does it all mean? I can't be sure, since I got rather terse responses from CNG spokeswoman Suzanne Halpin:
We’ve been sharing content all along. In this week’s issue we’re sharing more, and we’ll continue to do that. Yes, there have been some staff changes.
Given the absence of an announcement or an opportunity for Brown to offer a valedictory, it looks like he was axed and the two papers, not unlike many other news organizations facing the squeeze, will rely on fewer staffers to put out the same publications.

Meanwhile, a comparison of mastheads of the Brooklyn Paper (above, this week's issue, while last week's issue is below) suggests that Senior Editor Vince DiMiceli has left the Brooklyn Paper. I've heard secondhand that the capable DiMiceli has simply moved over to work on the Courier-Life chain.

Update 8:15 am. I got an additional quote from a New York Post spokesperson:
"There are 11 papers under the Courier Life umbrella, of which Gersh Kuntzman edits four (the downtown versions plus the Brooklyn Paper) and Vince DiMiceli edits seven (the non-downtown editions).

Mr. Brown is no longer with the company.

The papers have been sharing resources and content since their acquisition by the Post last year."
Predictions from last year

After the sale of the longtime independent weekly a year ago, in March 2009, I asked Kuntzman if the newspapers would be consolidated and he said he didn't know.

I wrote that I expected that the two chains would be consolidated, at least in part, as they start agreeing not to tread on each other's territory. However, their layouts, printing plants, and web sites are all disparate, so true consolidation might take a while.

The consolidation so far seems less a divvying up of territory than simply sharing content.

The Brooklyn Paper, it seems, has mostly been left alone by CNG, but I'll stand by my prediction--as quoted in Times coverage--that "The Brooklyn Paper’s news coverage of Atlantic Yards will diminish somewhat (as it already has), and its editorial criticism will diminish even more."

After all, where was that Brooklyn Paper article on the Development Agreement that gives Forest City Ratner 25 years to build Atlantic Yards?

Changes and questions

At the very least, it might be tougher to put out a quality product with even fewer people. Each paper has only a handful of reporters to cover (parts of) what would be, if independent, the country's fourth-largest city.

The Courier-Life web site and layout might improve.

And the tone of the two weeklies might change.

Will the Courier-Life replace its three columnists, who infrequently write anything about Brooklyn, with columnists who focus on the borough?

Will we see more of the Gershi-ification of the Courier-Life?

(That's more glibness, puns, and--to quote former Brooklyn Paper publisher Ed Weintrob--a "familiar hysterical slant," all hallmarks of editor Kuntzman's tabloid style. To be fair, Kuntzman has published some serious news coverage--today's Brooklyn Paper has a follow-up on security at the Atlantic Terminal by Stephen Brown--and he's prodigiously productive. But there's a tension between producing entertainment and pursuing a role as a civic watchdog.)

Will the Courier-Life be as heavily edited as the Brooklyn Paper, or will the Courier-Life--which has much more of a newshole--continue to publish press releases verbatim and copy virtually unedited?

Will the career arc at the two papers change? Brooklyn Paper reporters tend to stay for a year or two and move on; Courier-Life reporters tend to stick around.

The notorious Mr. Witt

And will the notorious Stephen Witt be allowed to continue to cheerlead unquestioningly for Atlantic Yards?

This week's coverage of the lawsuit James filed, claiming injury after walking into a hitch that a man had (allegedly) improperly left on his car, wasn't encouraging.

Witt's slam on James ran, initially, without any comment from James or link to any backing documents. James may have filed a frivolous lawsuit, but it wasn't easy to evaluate.

Then Witt wrote a quick follow-up story, pointing out that James "has been the subject of considerable mockery on the Internet."

(If that's the criterion, well, where's the story about Witt, whom the Brooklyn Paper, when independent, once needled?)

The New York Daily News picked up, and ran an editorial calling James a knucklehead, whereupon she said she'd withdraw her suit.

Now James may well have made an unwise move, perhaps inspired by Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz's notable payday.

But Witt's willingness to carry water for James's unsuccessful challenger, Delia Hunley-Adossa, does not exactly inspire confidence in his reporting.

Remember how, after the New York Times's blog The Local reported last August that they had trouble reaching Hunley-Adossa, the candidate claimed, via Witt, a smear campaign by The Local?

Witt dutifully reported that Hunley-Adossa had always been reachable by him. However, Kuntzman told The Local, "“We at The Brooklyn Paper have been astounded by the lack of response to our questions from Delia and her campaign."

Now Witt works for Kuntzman.

Life at CNG has just gotten cozier, and we'll have to wait to see how and if things change.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Barclays Center/Levy Restaurants hit with suit charging discrimination on disability, race; supervisors said to use vicious slurs, pursue retaliation

The Daily News has an article today, Barclays Center hit with $5M suit claiming discrimination against disabled, while the New York Post headlined its article Barclays Center sued over taunting disabled employees.

While that's part of the lawsuit, more prominent are claims of racial discrimination and retaliation, with black employees claiming repeated abuse by white supervisors, preferential treatment toward Hispanic colleagues, and retaliation in response to complaints.

Two individual supervisors, for example, are charged with  referring to black employees as “black motherfucker,” “dumb black bitch,” “black monkey,” “piece of shit” and “nigger.”

Two have referred to an employee blind in one eye as “cyclops,” and “the one-eyed guy,” and an employee with a nose disorder as “the nose guy.”

There's been no official response yet though arena spokesman Barry Baum told the Daily News they, but take “allegations of this kind very seriously” and have "a zero tolerance policy for…

Behind the "empty railyards": 40 years of ATURA, Baruch's plan, and the city's diffidence

To supporters of Forest City Ratner's Atlantic Yards project, it's a long-awaited plan for long-overlooked land. "The Atlantic Yards area has been available for any developer in America for over 100 years,” declared Borough President Marty Markowitz at a 5/26/05 City Council hearing.

Charles Gargano, chairman of the Empire State Development Corporation, mused on 11/15/05 to WNYC's Brian Lehrer, “Isn’t it interesting that these railyards have sat for decades and decades and decades, and no one has done a thing about them.” Forest City Ratner spokesman Joe DePlasco, in a 12/19/04 New York Times article ("In a War of Words, One Has the Power to Wound") described the railyards as "an empty scar dividing the community."

But why exactly has the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s Vanderbilt Yard never been developed? Do public officials have some responsibility?

At a hearing yesterday of the Brooklyn Borough Board Atlantic Yards Committee, Kate Suisma…

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…

So, Forest City has some property subject to the future Gowanus rezoning

Writing yesterday, MAP: Who Owns All the Property Along the Gowanus Canal, DNAinfo's Leslie Albrecht lays out the positioning of various real estate players along the Gowanus Canal, a Superfund site:
As the city considers whether to rezone Gowanus and, perhaps, morph the gritty low-rise industrial area into a hot new neighborhood of residential towers (albeit at a fraction of the height of Manhattan's supertall buildings), DNAinfo reviewed property records along the canal to find out who stands to benefit most from the changes.
Investors have poured at least $440 million into buying land on the polluted waterway and more than a third of the properties have changed hands in the past decade, according to an examination of records for the nearly 130 properties along the 1.8-mile canal. While the single largest landowner is developer Property Markets Group, other landowners include Kushner Companies, Alloy Development, Two Trees, and Forest City New York.

Forest City's plans unc…

At 550 Vanderbilt, big chunk of apartments pitched to Chinese buyers as "international units"

One key to sales at the 550 Vanderbilt condo is the connection to China, thanks to Shanghai-based developer Greenland Holdings.

It's the parent of Greenland USA, which as part of Greenland Forest City Partners owns 70% of Pacific Park (except 461 Dean and the arena).

And sales in China may help explain how the developer was able to claim early momentum.
"Since 550 Vanderbilt launched pre-sales in June [2015], more than 80 residences have gone into contract, representing over 30% of the building’s 278 total residences," the developer said in a 9/25/15 press release announcing the opening of a sales gallery in Brooklyn. "The strong response from the marketplace indicates the high level of demand for well-designed new luxury homes in Brooklyn..."

Maybe. Or maybe it just meant a decent initial pipeline to Chinese buyers.

As lawyer Jay Neveloff, who represents Forest City, told the Real Deal in 2015, a project involving a Chinese firm "creates a huge market for…