Monday, February 06, 2006


Curious FCR omission in Times story about Senegal-to-NYC rower

The Times today ran an 1,190-word story about Victor Mooney, a Brooklyn man who's working on a rowboat he plans to row from Senegal to New York to raise consciousness about AIDS. But there was no mention of corporate contributor Forest City Ratner, the company mentioned at the top of the Goree Challenge home page.

The article, headlined A Slow, Solo Crossing of the Atlantic Is One Man's Response to the AIDS Crisis, acknowledges some corporate donors:
He eventually approached more than 70 companies for help, nearly all of it in-kind. Snapple made his only cash donation so far, for $5,000. Mr. Mooney needs to raise $30,000 more to pay off the boat kit and cover his expenses during journey, which he expects will take seven months. Whatever he raises above that will go to charity.
The United Parcel Service offered to ship the finished boat to Senegal. A Lowe's in Brooklyn pitched in thousands of dollars' worth of tools, while West Marine, a marine equipment supplier, contributed radios, fittings and other electronics. West System, another supplier, gave Mr. Mooney rolls of fiberglass cloth and nearly 100 gallons of epoxy and glue.

The quote on the Goree Challenge homepage:
"I'm proud to be helping Mooney. We wish him well in his mission and journey."
Bruce Ratner, Chairman and CEO of Forest City Ratner Companies and Principal Owner of New Jersey Nets

Space from Forest City Ratner

Forest City Ratner, as the Courier-Life chain reported 9/29/05 in an article headlined Brooklyn Iron Man Prepares to Row the Atlantic, has donated the space where Mooney works. It's a building the developer controls and would later demolish for the Atlantic Yards project. Mooney's web site calls it "the Atlantic Yards Boathouse," which furthers the notion that Atlantic Yards is a place rather than a project.

Why leave Forest City Ratner out of the article? It's a judgment call, and not an easy one. Is the donation of a work space more worthy of mention than the donation of supplies? Maybe the omission was a question of space, and that paragraph got cut from the final version of the article.

Maybe a mention of Forest City Ratner would require the Times to publish--or at least consider publishing--the disclosure that the parent Times Company has a business relationship with the developer. And that disclosure might distract from an article about fight against AIDS, which has little to do with Forest City Ratner.

However, given that Forest City Ratner gains such a prominent spot on the Goree Project's home page, that the donation of the space was highlighted in a press release and local news coverage, that the construction space is called the Atlantic Yards Boathouse, and that local charitable donations have been part of the Forest City Ratner community strategy, I'd say that, on balance, a mention was in order.

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