June 29, 2005, 6:19 pm

Full Disclosure of Ties with Bruce Ratner

The New York Times, I believe, has an obligation to alert readers when they are reading substantive articles about a company or individual with whom the newspaper has some business or professional relationship.

This obligation wasn’t fulfilled Sunday when the chatty “Questions for Bruce Ratner” in The New York Times Magazine failed to mention that the real estate developer and the parent company of this newspaper are partners in the construction of the The Times’s new headquarters in Manhattan. Given the smiling, page-high cutout photograph of Mr. Ratner that accompanied the article, it was an especially inopportune time to fail to mention his ties to The Times.
But it appears to be an unusual lapse. The Sunday article spurred me to check on how the paper has been doing overall during the past two years. Mr. Ratner’s project with The Times was mentioned almost every time he had a substantive role in an article.

Consistent disclosure of the newspaper’s relationship with Mr. Ratner is especially relevant as he moves ahead with plans to build an arena for the Nets in Brooklyn as part of a broader real estate project there. There’s vocal opposition to the Brooklyn project — and The Times will have to cover it. All the while, work will be proceeding on The Times’s new headquarters across the street from the Port Authority.

The Times’s most important obligation, of course, is to make sure there’s no bias in any articles it does publish about Mr. Ratner. But avoiding the perception of any tilt toward Mr. Ratner in its pages is also essential. One of the best ways to avoid a perception problem is to make certain that substantive articles about Mr. Ratner and his real estate dealings include full disclosure about his business relationship with The Times.

Add your comments...


Required, will not be published

About The Public Editor

Clark Hoyt is the readers' representative. He responds to complaints and comments from the public and monitors the paper's journalistic practices. His opinions and conclusions are his own. His column appears at least twice monthly on the Sunday Op-Ed pages.


Recent Posts

November 22

Letters: Corpus Christi and Facebook

Re “The Perilous Intersection of Art and Religion” (Nov. 9):
I appreciate your thoughtful treatment of the controversy regarding the play “Corpus Christi” and the broader issues you raise.
Many instances have occurred of insults to cultures and religions by a variety of artistic works. I believe that what upsets members of these various cultures or [...]

November 14
(1 comment)

Jodi Kantor’s Facebook Text

Times reporter Jodi Kantor sent messages to eight or nine teenagers at several private schools, trying to determine which one Bridget McCain, the 16-year-old daughter of John and Cindy McCain, attended. Kantor said she was trying to reach parents to interview them about Mrs. McCain for a profile. Ed Morrissey, a conservative blogger, [...]

October 25

Letters: “Bias, Issues and Scorekeeping”

Re “Keeping Their Opinions to Themselves” (Oct. 19):
Please, you do protest too much. My mother, a lifelong Democrat who is turning 100 years old, reads The New York Times every day, and she can’t believe the obvious bias of the paper.
First the paper was wildly anti-Hillary Rodham Clinton, while supporting her — in [...]

October 03

Article Comparison: Obama/Biden Vs. McCain/Palin

Has The Times been tougher on John McCain and Sarah Palin than it has been on Barack Obama and Joe Biden? Here are enterprise/investigative articles the newspaper has done on each of the four candidates since early 2007.
I have previously found fault with two of these articles – the first one on McCain and [...]

September 27

Letters: Making it Airtight, Formalities and Scrutiny

Re “Make It Airtight” (Sept. 21):
I was gratified to read that Richard Stevenson, the editor who directs The Times’s coverage of the election, said that “we don’t want to fall into the trap of false equivalency” when accurately reporting the false and misleading advertising, speeches and statements employed by Senator John McCain and [...]


  • Subscribe to the RSS Feed
  • Subscribe to the Atom Feed