2008-06-20

Times City Room defends its treatment of "South Brooklyn"

Several of us bloggers in Flatbush, at least, feel at best bemusement when the Times casts its gimlet eye upon our fair neighborhood. They sometimes seem to view us as some quaint suburban enclave, linking to a post about, say, raccoons, while ignoring local coverage of a rezoning proposal that will shape development for decades to come.

At least one reader of the New York Times City Room seems to feel the same:
Question: ... There is no doubt, that when The New York Times writes about Brooklyn, one would think that Brooklyn is Park Slope, the Heights, Cobble Hill, Dumbo, and those environments basically north of Prospect Park. When areas such as Bensonhurst, Borough Park, Bay Ridge, Flatbush, and Sheepshead Bay are ever mentioned in your publication, they are usually treated in a condescending, disparaging, misinformed manner ... Why the obvious slant, and why the ignorance from a publication that claims to be a bastion of serious and knowledgeable discourse?
- Answers About City Room, Part 3, Sewell Chan, New York Times, June 19, 2008
The Times responds:
Answer: I’m not sure I agree with your rather harsh assessment. ... The Times has devoted a lot of coverage of neighborhoods like Greenpoint and Williamsburg [still north of Prospect Park!], where young college graduates have spurred a housing boom over the last decade, and projects like Atlantic Yards, which has provoked fierce discussion about the future of economic development in Brooklyn and the preservation of small-scale neighborhoods. But I don’t think that coverage has meant that other neighborhoods receive “condescending, disparaging, misinformed” coverage. In recent months, The Times has written about a kosher soup kitchen in Borough Park, the history of Victorian Flatbush and access to the Sheepshead Bay waterfront. We’re always open to suggestions for news and feature stories in the city’s diverse neighborhoods, and The City section, published each Sunday, is filled with local updates on community news.

Related Posts

The Times discovers Kensington, May 24, 2008
Times admits past errors: We are not all Ditmas Park, March 15, 2008
Where is Flatbush, anyway?, December 1, 2007

2 comments:

Brenda from Flatbush said...

Ah, yes, the story about Victorian Flatbush--the one where they reported with a straight face that our mini-nabe was called "NoProPaSo," when I'd told the reporter I coined that term as a joke! At least we got taken seriously. The ethnic neighborhoods distal to Flatbush, when they cross the Times' radar at all, either receive the "Biff and Muffy Take the Subway and Look What They Found!" treatment, or the "Colorful Native" treatment. I sometimes expect to see a Times reporter poking around Coney Island or Marine Park in a pith helmet with a native guide.

Xris (Flatbush Gardener) said...

There's a general lack of credit where due. Increasingly, local stories are covered first, and often better, by local writers. "NoProPaSo" is part of that pattern.

The other problem is this neighborhood coverage occurs only in the context of "real estate." So if there isn't money to be made, there's no story.