Immediate Release: September 1, 2005
The New York Times & Forest City Ratner's Atlantic
Yards: High-Rises & Low Standards
Report: Newspaper Shirks Duty to Cover Development
by its Own Business Partner, Ratner
Coalition Requests Response from Executive Editor, Public Editor
NEW YORK, NY—The New York Times's coverage
of Forest City Ratner's proposed Atlantic Yards development in Brooklyn
over the past two years has been inadequate, misleading, and mostly
uncritical, according to a report—The New York Times
& Forest City Ratner's Atlantic Yards: High-Rises & Low Standards—by
independent Brooklyn-based journalist Norman Oder. The report was
released today by the author, and endorsed by four Brooklyn neighborhood
groups—Develop Don't Destroy–Brooklyn; Fort Greene Association;
Park Slope Neighbors, Prospect Heights Action Coalition—and the
media watchdog NoLandGrab.org.
The report is being delivered today to Times Publisher
Arthur Sulzberger, Jr., Executive Editor Bill Keller; Assistant
Managing Editor and Standards Editor Allan Siegal; Metro Editor
Susan Edgerly; Editorial Page Editor Gail Collins; Editorial Board
Member Carolyn Curiel; and Public Editor Byron Calame. The
groups endorsing the report request that the Times
promptly issue corrections of errors and that Editor's Notes disclosing
the Times's business relationship with developer Forest
City Ratner be appended to archived versions of articles. The groups
also request that Public Editor Calame conduct a thorough and prompt
investigation of the Times's coverage of Forest City Ratner
and Atlantic Yards.
The New York Times Company and Forest City Ratner (FCR), which has
proposed a massive set of 17 towers plus a basketball arena for
the Brooklyn site (spanning at least 22 acres), are partners in
building the Times Company's new headquarters on Eighth Avenue.
Don't Destroy Brooklyn spokesman Daniel Goldstein said, "Norman
Oder's report states: 'As a business collaborator, the Times Company
has an interest in Forest City Ratner's overall success. As a newspaper,
the Times has an obligation to cover FCR in all its ventures,
including the $3.5 billion Atlantic Yards project, without fear
A thorough assessment of the Times's coverage, from FCR's
announcement of the Atlantic Yards development in December 2003
to the present, reveals numerous stories missed, legitimate critics
ignored, issues downplayed, and mistakes uncorrected. Other media
outlets have reported crucial information on the Atlantic Yards
project that the Times has omitted, as this report points
out; it suggests more issues to pursue. They include: number of
jobs promised; the public costs of the project; polls showing most
New Yorkers oppose a taxpayer-funded arena; and Forest City Ratner's
public relations tactics. Also, the Times has not consistently
disclosed its relationship with Forest City Ratner—even after its
own Public Editor, the ombudsman position established in 2003 to
independently critique newsroom operations, urged such disclosure.
concluded by quoting Oder's report: "The Times's inconsistent
coverage of Forest City Ratner's Atlantic Yards development doesn't
mean that reporters and editors at the Times have been
told to go easy on Forest City Ratner. However, given the two companies'
corporate relationship, the newspaper should report on FCR exactingly,
taking care to dispel any suspicion of conflict of interest. The
Times has failed to do so."
The report and executive summary, with backup documentation, is
available at www.dddb.net/times.
For further information on report contents, contact Norman Oder:
For further information on the groups endorsing the report, contact:
Develop Don't Destroy-Brooklyn: Daniel Goldstein, email@example.com,
Fort Greene Association: Phillip Kellogg, theFGA@HistoricFortGreene.org,
NoLandGrab.org: Lumi Michelle Rolley, firstname.lastname@example.org, 917-972-1805
Park Slope Neighbors: Eric McClure. Atlantic Yards Campaign Coordinator.
Prospect Heights Action Coalition: Patti Hagan, 718-219-2137
Norman Oder, the writer of the report,
has been a journalist for more than 20 years. As a freelancer, he
has contributed to a wide range of publications, including Columbia
Journalism Review, American Journalism Review, New York Newsday,
New York Daily News,Tthe Village Voice, New York Press, and Gotham
Gazette. He earned a Master of Studies in Law as a journalism fellow
at Yale Law School. A licensed tour guide, he also has operated
a part-time tour business in Brooklyn since 2000.
Develop Don't Destroy—Brooklyn (DDDB; www.dddb.net)
leads a broad-based community coalition fighting for development
that unites communities instead of dividing and destroying them.
It co-sponsored the creation of six alternate development plans
(for both an arena and for the site targeted by FCR), which illustrate
deep flaws and weaknesses in the FCR plan.
Fort Greene Association (www.fortgreeneny.com)
is devoted to historic preservation, neighborhood and park enhancement,
as well as cultural, economic, and housing advancement.
is a media watchdog group and blog devoted to the Atlantic Yards
Park Slope Neighbors (www.parkslopeneighbors.org)
is a neighborhood organization, which was formed in 2005, committed
to the protection and enhancement of quality of life in Park Slope,
Prospect Heights Action Coalition is a group of
“street fighters” defending Brooklyn's neighborhoods from predatory
developers. It was the first organization to publicly expose and
oppose Forest City Ratner's Atlantic Yards project.