Friday, July 10, 2009

David Carr's review of the I.F. Stone bio, the alleged lack of shoe leather reporting, and the blog coverage ignored

Dear Mr. Carr,

I'm befuddled by your blanket dismissal of the blogosphere in today's New York Times review of the new biography of legendary independent journalist I.F. Stone.

In your concluding paragraph, you wrote:
After reading Mr. Guttenplan’s extensive, loving reconstruction of Stone’s outside-in approach to journalism, it might be tempting to suggest that Stone was a protoblogger, a postmodern journalist who hacked his own route to an audience long before there was something called the Internet. But his insistence on shoe leather over rhetoric has yet to be replicated in digital realms. As it is, his life and work are reminders that knowing more than anyone else is the surest way to win an argument.
(Emphasis added)

Sure, no journalist using the blog format has produced a body of work to rival Stone's output, but there's lots of shoe leather reporting out there. Scott Rosenberg cites Talking Points Memo and Firedoglake, among others, in his new book Say Everything.

Closer to home, and I know you live in New Jersey, you somehow haven't noticed how my Atlantic Yards Report often provides a far more comprehensive account of the Atlantic Yards controversy than does the Times.

Just in the past six weeks, consider coverage of the May 29 State Senate oversight hearing; the June 22 Metropolitan Transportation Authority Finance Committee meeting (and more); the June 23 Empire State Development Corporation board meeting; and the June 24 MTA board meeting (with video).

And consider how the Times fell down, either ignoring the events entirely or downplaying crucial details.

As for winning an argument, consider this dispute I had with the Times over the newspaper's unwillingness to correct an unqualified prediction that the Barclays Center, the arena in the Atlantic Yards plan, will be built.

Please keep in mind that the unlimited space provided by the Internet, as well as the ample opportunity for citations and factchecking, should foster much more work, not less, in the spirit of Stone.

I read with interest your piece last Saturday about stumbles by the Washington Post's publisher. Consider that the Times, given its inadequate, distorted, and absent coverage of Atlantic Yards--a project of the parent New York Times Company's business partner, Forest City Ratner--is long overdue for similar scrutiny.

Regards,
Norman Oder
Atlantic Yards Report
Brooklyn, NY

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