FULL REPORT (pdf 4.3mb)
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Report Main Page
The New York Times
September 1, 2005
Dear Mr. Keller:
Your letter to the editor in the August 21, 2005 edition of The New
York Times Book Review argues eloquently for the value of journalism:
"the idealism of reporters who think they can make the world better,
the intellectual satisfaction of puzzling through a complicated issue, the
competitive gratification of being first to discover a buried story, the
pride in striving to uphold a professional code of fair play, the quest
for peer recognition and, yes, the feedback from attentive and thoughtful
readers. He makes no allowance for the possibility that conscientious reporters
and editors are capable of setting aside their personal beliefs or standing
up to their advertisers (and the prejudices of their readers) to do work
they believe in."
How disappointing it was to read your words and be reminded how the Times
has failed to meet these very ideals in its coverage of Forest City Ratner's
Atlantic Yards project, as the attached report illustrates:
We genuinely hope that the Times's weak coverage of Mr. Ratner's
Atlantic Yards proposal, and the myriad critical issues swirling around
it, can be rectified in the immediate future, as this story has years to
- Times reporters have missed the opportunity to gain "the
intellectual satisfaction of puzzling through a complicated issue."
Rather, they have ignored complex issues, such as the cost of the project,
the number of jobs the project would bring, and the racial politics
- Times reporters have not been "first to discover a buried
story." In fact, they have missed big stories right in front of
their eyes; for example, by not covering a crucial City Council hearing.
- Times reporters have not upheld "a professional code
of fair play." For one example, stories on construction projects
elsewhere have explained false projections of the number of jobs, but
the Times has not done so in this case. Authorities the Times
has quoted in coverage of other controversies have been ignored here.
- Times reporters and editors have not followed up on "feedback
from attentive and thoughtful readers." Many letters have been
sent to the Times—we and many, many others have written them,
including to the Public Editor—about flaws and biases in the Times's
coverage of Atlantic Yards—to no discernible effect, either by way of
response or in changed reportage.
- Times reporters in this case have not been doing the equivalent
of "standing up to their advertisers"–in this case,
their parent company's business partner–"to do work [the
reporters] believe in." We have a perception, if not proof, of
bias: coverage shows a continued pattern of inconsistency and inattention.
Given the potential for conflict of interest, the Times should
take care to cover Forest City Ratner exactingly. It has not.
Daniel Goldstein, Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn
Phillip Kellogg, Fort Greene Association
Lumi Michelle Rolley, NoLandGrab.org
Eric McClure, Park Slope Neighbors
Patti Hagan, Prospect Heights Action Coalition
Publisher Arthur Sulzberger, Jr.
Assistant Managing Editor and Standards Editor Allan Siegal
Metro Editor Susan Edgerly
Editorial Page Editor Gail Collins
Editorial Board Member Carolyn Curiel
Public Editor Byron Calame