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CNG Watch: Bloomberg interviews, sandwich war, and "banned" book, but nothing on the Carlton Avenue Bridge

Both major Brooklyn weekly newspapers (owned by Rupert Murdoch's Community Newspaper Group) this week put Mayor Mike Bloomberg's interview with the CNG reporters and editors on the front page. It was a reasonable choice and the Courier-Life article even incorporated some critical feedback from Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn's Daniel Goldstein.

The Brooklyn Paper (right) made the interview the lead story, with the entertaining tale of a battle between two Vietnamese sandwich shops as the off-lead. The Courier-Life (at left, below) placed the interview as the off-lead (which couldn't fit in the scan I made), while placing a story about the Brooklyn Public Library "banning" a book as the lead.

Neither saw fit to cover the clearly documented news, published on Tuesday morning, well before their deadlines, that the reopening of the Carlton Avenue Bridge would be delayed until at least January 2011 and likely far longer.

Yes, both produce a lot of copy with a handful of reporters, but they are not informing their readers of some important news.

A need for accountability

The Courier-Life's choices are especially dubious, given that, on page 2, the newspaper published a hard-hitting story that followed up on an astonishing New York Times report on state legislators double-dipping.

Thomas Tracy's article was headlined Benefit bonanza: Longtime legislators can reap retirement packages while still in office and subtitled "Which of your Brooklyn representatives are claiming benefits while still in office?"

The article begins by noting how hard it is to get legislators to reveal their age:
Then try to find out if they’re going to claim their state employee retirement benefits while still in office, a perfectly legal, but ethically dubious practice conducted by Flatbush Assemblymember Rhoda Jacobs and several other state lawmakers, according to a recently published New York Times article.

A review of borough legislators carried out by this paper showed that not only are state Assembly and Senate members shy about answering this simple question, they’re even more close-mouthed about their ages.

Dyker Heights Assemblymember Peter Abbate, Sunset Park Assemblyman Felix Ortiz, Midwood Assemblywoman Helene Weinstein, and Sheepshead Bay State Senator Carl Kruger, did not return repeated calls for a response. We’ll forgive Borough Park Assemblyman Dov Hikind, and Red Hook State Senator Velmanette Montgomery. Both were reportedly on vacation -- Hikind was out of the country -- when we called.

Williamsburg Assemblymember and Kings County Democratic Boss Vito Lopez refused to comment.

That's front-page news.


Instead, the Courier-Life chose Stephen Witt's dubious article headlined BPL BOOK BAN. First, it's not a ban; as the article indicates; Tintin Au Congo has been moved to a closed collection.

Second, the story was broken on August 19 by the New York Times, which offered a thoughtful analysis--absent in the C-L--of the issues involved. (The Daily News followed up two days later.) Third, the book was moved in 2007. Fourth, Witt closes the article by erroneously stating:
Stephen Spielberg is currently making a movie based on the book.

Actually, the Tintin movie is not based on the book.


  1. And "Stephen" Spielberg, whomever he may be, will likely get sued by famous director Steven Spielberg, who owns the film rights.


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