14 Feb Oh Media Why Hath Thou Forsaken Us
A year and a half ago, as Occupy Wall Street was just starting to take off after some crazy police brutality, I stood outside of a re-naming ceremony for the New Jersey Nets. A couple of hundred press people had dutifully shown up at this press event to hear the exciting news that the team would now be called….. the Brooklyn Nets. Jay-Z smiled and flashes flashed as they stationed themselves across the street from the rapidly rising Barclays Arena. As I am not an “official member of the media” I was not allowed inside. However I did stand outside the barricades that surrounded the media tent and watched. Afterwards I asked some of the media why they couldn’t see that a press event like this was a “magic trick” designed to divert attention from the real issues that needed to be discussed about the project. The day before police had maced people in the face with no provocation and the press was barely covering the story. Instead they did as they were asked and showed up to report on this name change. In their pieces no one mentioned the broken promises, the corrupt cash for green cards scam, the lack of promised jobs, and the toothless Community Benefits Agreement. They did as they were told.
The arena is now open, and while some of the absolute nightmare scenarios of total gridlock have not come to pass, the impacts on the surrounding communities are problematic. Today Mayor Bloomberg will give his state of the City address at the arena in order to highlight the success of the project. Thankfully there is a journalist in this town. Unfortunately the press doesn’t listen to him and no one pays for his work. Norman Oder has been writing about the seedy financial details, the corruption, and everything else for 8 years now. He breaks story after story and yet other media outlets rarely pick up on his reporting. When they do, the often fail to credit him. The NY Times ignores him despite their abysmal record of covering this story. This morning he wrote a post about the huge undisclosed subsidies that the city is providing to the developer. If these are taken into account its hard to see how the city could call this a financial success. He’s got all the numbers to back up his writing. I’m gonna have to bet though that the 400 plus press people that show up to this event will report what they are told to report. No ones going to write about the dark side of this project, because that’s not what they do. They cover press events, and they write about things they get press releases about, and they laugh at people like Norman Oder who are doing the real work of journalism. Then they’ll go home and spend a few hours on twitter bitching out Jonah Lehrer for making up a few Bob Dylan quotes.