Saturday, November 19, 2011

Streetsblog explains how the bike lane coverage/editorials were steered (though it would be harder to prove the same with Atlantic Yards)

In another bang-up installment of its investigation of the Prospect Park West bike lane saga, Streetsblog this week offered The NBBL Files: Weinshall and Steisel Manufactured Anti-Bike Coverage. Noah Kazis and Ben Fried wrote:
One of the defining elements of the Prospect Park West bike lane saga was the inordinate amount of media attention it received. For months, this one short stretch of pavement in Brooklyn ignited coverage from just about every New York City broadsheet, tabloid, evening news broadcast, and glossy magazine. Everyone kept talking about it — even the British press.

NBBL could count on New York Post real estate columnist Steve Cuozzo and CBS 2 political correspondent Marcia Kramer to advance their agenda.

To be fair, it had all the elements of a great story...
Friends in high places

But they also had the press on their side.

They write:
[Iris] Weinshall, the former DOT commissioner and wife of Senator Chuck Schumer, and [Norman] Steisel, the former deputy mayor under David Dinkins, repeatedly used their media connections to shape coverage of the bike lane dispute.
The Daily News contact

The most valuable contact, according to the documents Streetsblog obtained? The Daily News editorial board, which regularly echoed NBBL arguments.

That's the same editorial board that has so vigorously, embarrassingly cheerleaded for Atlantic Yards.

An AY parallel?

So, would it possible to pull back the same cover regarding Atlantic Yards? I doubt it.

Streetsblog filed Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) requests with several entities, but likely the most valuable was the City University of New York, where Weinshall and fellow NBBL leader Louise Hainline work.

It's a public university, so their emails--since they didn't think to use separate, non-work accounts--are FOILable. Not so easy to FOIL would be the emails between, say, Forest City Ratner CEO and New York Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger.

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