Sunday, February 26, 2012

A house ad in the Times and a question mark about coverage of Forest City Ratner's role in the Yonkers corruption case

It was curious that, after a Forest City Ratner executive testified last Thursday about the developer's questionable behavior connected to its Ridge Hill project, a key part of the corruption case against two Yonkers figures, no article appeared in the New York Times.

(The New York Post covered it, alone among the mainstream city media, while the suburban Journal News has steadily examined Yonkers corruption issues. Consultant/activist Gary Tilzer, in his True News blog, has steadily criticized the local media for ignoring the case.)

After all, the Times had two reporters in the courtroom and, by any objective standards, the goings-on were more newsworthy than, say, coverage of promotional efforts by the Nets. After all, also taking the stand was the current mayor of Yonkers, Mike Spano, a former lobbyist for Forest City.

And the Times, presumably, has unfettered space online in its CityRoom blog.

Space unused in print

It seemed even more curious after a look at the print paper Friday. There, at the bottom of A22, a page devoted to metropolitan coverage, was a house ad (right) for the Times. Such house ads are typically used to fill space when there's no paying ad or article to take precedence.

Had the Metro desk prepared another news article for print, it could have fit in that space. But it didn't.

While the Times has not offered daily coverage of the Yonkers trial, it has published two articles.

So presumably coverage will resume at some point this week. One question is how much the testimony by Scott Cantone and Bruce Bender, key executives for the developer in both the Ridge Hill and Atlantic Yards cases, will be described.

The Times's obligation

I don't say that the Times, by virtue of the parent company's partnership with Forest City Ratner in building the Times Tower, is in the developer's pocket. But I do think that business relationship obligates the Times to be exacting in its coverage, and the newspaper regularly falls short. This week will be another test.





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