Monday, November 15, 2010

What's different today from Jane Jacobs's time? The Village Voice, and the journalistic milieu

I've written periodically about The Battle for Gotham: New York in the Shadow of Robert Moses and Jane Jacobs, by Roberta Brandes Gratz.

When the book was issued in the spring, Gratz spoke at a bookstore in SoHo and, at one point, recalled the battle to stop Robert Moses from building a highway through that then-transitional neighborhood.

"There was a very important element, which we don't have today, and that was the Village Voice. Mary Nichols of the Village Voice was totally in [Jane] Jacobs's camp," Gratz said. "Because the daily press paid very little attention to these issues. The Voice was out there, so the press was on top of it."

What's different now

It's different today on several levels. First, the Voice is a shadow of its former self in terms of attention to city politics. Second, the Voice has mostly (though not completely) ignored Atlantic Yards. (Did the Voice cover Justice Marcy Friedman's Atlantic Yards ruling last week? Nah.)

Third, even when the Voice has a major scoop--take for example the astonishing story of Mayor Mike Bloomberg's support for the African Art Museum promoted by rival Bill Thompson's wife--it often gets ignored by the dailies.

Sure, there are new voices and venues, notably blogs. But the Voice, once an important counterweight to the dailies, no longer offers that voice. And the dailies are diminished as well.

1 comment:

  1. Agreed, the Voice is a faint whisper of its muckraking 1960s self. However, the Nov. 10-16, 2010 VV [Andrew Cuomo, Cover Boy] contains 2 must-read, relentlessly researched pieces of investigative reporting: Wayne Barrett's "PECKING ORDER: Andrew Cuomo Goes to Albany, Where the Lobbyists Are Waiting....A mercenary class of elite lobbyists is at the heart of every state scandal, and nothing will change in New York until their death grip is broken" & Tom Robbins' "The Rabbi Who Conned Himself: Milton Balkany hedges and misses his bets."
    --- Patti Hagan-------
    Still on the stands.)

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