Thursday, August 16, 2012

The Count: In Midst of Barclays LIBOR Scandal, Big NY Times Story About Jay-Z Promotion of Barclays Center Mentions “Barclays” Twice, Scandal Naught

(Above, a still from Jay-Z’s 2012 Olympics Budweiser Advertisement, slightly altered to promotionally say “Barclays” instead of promotionally saying “Nets”- Or, the alteration could have been to have the hat say “Ratner/Prokhorov.”)

If you wonder whether I am counting. . . I am.

Yesterday I posted a Noticing New York article* observing that the biggest “Barclays” story in the New York Times, in fact the only story that comes up in a long list of stories if you search the Times site for “Barclays” is the Barclays LIBOR scandal. I therefore suggested that the Times start appropriately contextualizing its stories about the “Barclays” Center (the Ratner/Prokhorov basketball arena), opening awkwardly in the very midst of this scandal, by referring routinely to the arena as the “problematically-named Barclays Center” or something else of that informative ilk.

(* Tuesday, August 14, 2012, With Discordant Synchronicity The “Barclays” Center Will Open At LIBOR Scandal’s Peak: What The New York Times Is And Isn’t Covering.)

I wondered whether the Times would begin to do so or continue compartmentalizing the news. I didn’t have to wait long for an answer. No sooner had I posted the Noticing New York article than an article went up on the Times site (which was then featured on the next day’s front page) that was about Jay-Z’s promotion of the Ratner/Prokhorov “Barclays” Center: The 1587-word story, ripped straight from the developer-subsidy collector’s press-releases, skillfully managed to mention the arena’s troublesome “Barclays” name only twice and to never mention the scandal associated with that name at all. (See: With Arena, Rapper Rewrites Celebrity Investors’ Playbook, by David M. HalbfingerAugust 15, 2012.)

How about that? A front page article in the Times the subject of which is how the new “Barclays” Center is being promoted and that article makes no mention of the awkwardness of the name of that arena in that promotion?

As for whether the Times is dedicated to compartmentalizing news about the opening of the arena to facilitate glowing developer-pleasing PR style articles, Atlantic Yards Report’s Norman Oder was on the spot with analysis confirming that this is, no doubt, the case: Wednesday, August 15, 2012, NYT: Jay-Z & Nets have "written a new playbook for... strategic celebrity investor" (and generating unskeptical publicity).

Among Mr. Oder’s observations in this regard:
• The article didn’t note that the arena promoters used Jay-Z “at the groundbreaking to distract people from the fact that a Russian billionaire [Mikhail Prokhorov] was getting the benefit of public subsidies.”

• That “Jay-Z was important in generating publicity, and in getting journalists/tv hosts like Rosanna Scotto to turn into simpering fans. And he's still generating publicity, as with this article.”

• That the Times left out of the front page article (it was carried over to run prominently on the bulk of page 3 as well) its disclosure about developer Forest City Ratner (offered with whimsically erratic inconsistency): “The company, which was the development partner for the Midtown headquarters for The New York Times Company....”
Besides the suggestion that future Times stories about the arena’s promotion be contextualized by referring routinely to the arena as the “problematically-named Barclays Center” I suggested that the Times start running stories about how local New York government officials are looking at suing Barclays Bank even as New York taxpayers have been committed to simultaneously subsidizing the bank's promotion. . . . Well. . .

No sooner was my Noticing New York article making this second suggestion posted than the Times ran its first short story about New York officials taking action against Barclays. More on this available from Noticing New York soon.

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