Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Hacked (F**k Ratner) traffic sign is huge news. Go figure.

Eric McClure of NoLandGrab was way ahead of me in rounding up the many news outlets that assigned crucial journalistic resources to the story of a hacked Variable Message Sign.

It's believed to be the work of Atlantic Yards "opponents" (though no one's claiming credit).

(One interesting aspect: note how the Times, the Post, and the Daily News shielded readers by altering the photo to mask the profanity. Photo by duelin' markers via Flickr.)

And McClure beat me to the media criticism:
Let us make a prediction (and save Norman Oder the trouble): the hacked-sign story will get more ink than the give-away of naming rights worth hundred of millions of dollars, or the 25-year build-out, or the false hoods about billions of dollars in economic benefit, or...
My comment

Thus goaded, I did have to post a comment on the Times's City Room blog:
Really, NY Times? You consider this a news story, but, say, bogus claims by the developer and the governor about jobs and tax revenues either get ignored or reprinted without analysis.

http://atlanticyardsreport.blogspot.com/2010/03/atlantic-yards-job-creation-engine-only.html

http://atlanticyardsreport.blogspot.com/2010/03/new-york-times-and-atlantic-yards.html

And the Times still hasn’t reported that, despite an announced 10-year buildout, the Development Agreement for the project allows for 25 years, with ample opportunity for extensions.

In other words, the traffic sign might have been hacked to:
Construction
For 25 Years

http://atlanticyardsreport.blogspot.com/2010/03/for-record-faq-about-atlantic-yards.html

Safety questions

Forest City Ratner spokesman Joe DePlasco, in high dudgeon, tells the Post:
Some irresponsible prankster apparently thinks it's fun to compromise public safety by hacking into the sign and changing the message. It is not funny. It is serious and offensive and, most importantly, a safety issue. We are reporting the vandalism to the Police Department."
He has a point: it is a safety issue, though not along the lines of an emergency notification. But maybe Forest City Ratner was partly responsible, according to the Post:
A white box below the large sign contains a typing pad for what is known as a "variable message" system. According to local merchants it was unlocked for days, allowing anyone to get in.

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