Friday, February 2, 2007

Queens Crap in the Tribune

Here's our second mention in the mainstream Queens press:

Where The Faceless Queensites Gripe

BY THERESA JUVA

Its “mascot” is a scowl-faced Unisphere sitting on a toilet. Its entries are marked by an abundance of capped words and exclamation points, shouting signs that make Queens Crap, http://queenscrap.blogspot.com the new blog for unhappy Queens residents, the virtual equivalent of a boiled over civic association meeting.

With titled posts like “Crap-o-rama” and “On the Market: Queens Crap Blvd.,” bloggers send in photos and locations of buildings around the borough that violate Department of Buildings regulations, fail to display adequate work permits, or commit the ultimate offense: ugliness.

“Notice how the boring blond brick contrasts with the tasteful brick design of the adjacent rowhouses,” one entry reads about the construction on a home in Maspeth.

Words like “monster,” “military bunker,” and “eyesore” are used to characterize home transformations that the bloggers believe are destroying their communities by inviting big developers in to build mega structures.

The blog’s heavy criticism of real estate developers is why the blog’s founder does not want to reveal her identity.

“The fact is that people in the real estate industry like to pressure and intimidate people who report infractions against them,” she said in an e-mail.

The site began in December from photos she had collected of illegal construction sites around the borough.

She said she is driven by the belief that “real estate money runs the city via campaign contributions to elected officials,” and wants to give people a forum to not only document their concerns in the borough, but also question their local politicians.

And by questioning them, bloggers turn them into caricatures: for example, according to one post, Councilman Dennis Gallagher is called “Dennis the Menace,” and also nicknamed “Pinky,” because of his cheeks’ reddish hue.

Alan Gross of Flushing said he posts on the site as a way of venting about what he views as destructive changes in his neighborhood.

“It’s a two-fold function for me,” he said in a phone interview. “It gives me a chance to vent, but it also gives me a chance to read news that isn’t in any of the papers.”

Gross believes the pressing issues of his community are largely ignored by most newspapers, a point that New York University urban sociologist Eric Klinenberg supports.

In his new book called “Fighting for Air: The Battle to Control America’s Media,” Klinenberg said as newsrooms shrink and local reporting suffers, people turn to blogs. One negative effect is that bloggers may not verify their facts and inaccurate information emerges. He cautioned that while blogs can be useful tools for journalists, they cannot stand on their own.

“My big theme is we shouldn’t see them as substitutes for quality local journalism; they are supplements,” he said. “I hope that the two kinds of outlets have a healthy, complimentary relationship.”

He said if blogs gain reputations for dispersing misinformation, it will steer people back to mainstream media.

But reliable blogs can survive.

Brownstoner, a blog created by a Brooklyn man several years ago, has become a premier blog for community information—a site description calls it “an unhealthy obsession with historic Brooklyn brownstones and the neighborhoods and lifestyles they define.”

“I certainly didn’t start it day one thinking that it’ll get as big as it did,” said the site’s creator, who also wished to remain anonymous because of his negative criticism of real estate developers and brokers.

He said the site attracts about 100,000 viewers a month, “a broad cross-section of readers,” who go beyond just prattle and engage in discussion about how race and class play a role in the borough’s development.

Some bloggers aren’t convinced that Queens Crap promotes this kind of productive conversation.

On Curbed.com, a blog with pages for different neighborhoods across the City, bloggers were skeptical of it, writing that “the whiners have their very own site now,” and that “some of these folks need to pack it in and retire to Florida and let things move forward.”

But for Queens Crap bloggers, the site finally gives them a voice they believe has been muffled by the sound of cement trucks rolling through their neighborhoods.

Rick Duskiewicz, president of the Creedmoor Civic Association, recently found the site and said while he doesn’t agree with all the posts, he understands the outrage. Many Queens residents chose the borough, he said, because they don’t want to live among the skyscrapers in Manhattan.

“We moved to Queens for green spaces and open space. Some people thinking paving over those spaces is progress,” he said.

Queens Crap may be about making noise, but Duskiewicz said it’s ultimately about preserving peace.

“In Queens, you get to see a sunrise and a sunset,” he said.

(Note, I changed to queenspress.com version which shows more of the actual article and the web address.)

Not surprisingly, there is not one issue of the paper available anywhere in the Crapper's neighborhood. That's what happens when your elected officials are not too pleased with the publicity that your website is getting.

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

Publicity is good, but this was poorly written and slanted in this reader's opinion.

The first paragraph fails to mention it is a blog primarily about overdevelopment and makes it sound like an outlet for anything that pisses anyone off in Queens. Describing the blog in the second paragraph makes it seem like an afterthought.

All but one poster on Curbed was very supportive of QC, yet this article makes it sound like there was a lot of criticism and skepticism.

If you're going write about a website, putting the exact address or a link would be helpful, don't you think?

Very amateur reporting.

Anonymous said...

The level of journalistic reporting in the Queens Tribune has severely declined over the years. It is becoming a pr sheet for the political hacks and ignoring real journalism. I wonder if they ever heard of research?

Anonymous said...

Well, what do you expect by Cong. Ackerman who owns the paper.

Poorly written? These papers pay little, have a revovling door on reporters, and simply cut and paste what the politicians/developers send them.

They are losing money, nobody really believes what's in them, and there are too many.

They are going to feel the heat from the Crapper.

Dinosaur, meet the mammal.

Theresa Juva said...

If you believe the Queens Tribune's journalistic integrity is severely compromised, please call or write me a letter. As the reporter who wrote the story, I would love to hear from you.

I question the need to remain anonymous when you obviously feel so strongly about this.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Theresa Juva
718-357-7400, Ex. 128
tjuva@queenstribune.com

Anonymous said...

I thought the article was very good and informative. I discovered this site after reading the article.

Theresa has done some great articles for the Trib and she really cares about issues. I'll take that any day over reporters from most Queens papers who couldn't give a crap about the issue. Ever read the Queens Ledger? Now we're talking grade "A" crap.

Theresa, keep fighting for Queens and don't get discouraged by jealous critics who would love to have your job and talent.

btw- this site is great!

Russ said...

Dear Mrs. Juva,
I wholeheartedly agree with you about gripers that remain anonymous. However, it is the current political climate in the borough that causes such a thing and that is for fear of reprisal. Today's political critique can lead to tomorrow's eminate domain seizure. Don't think it can happen? The papers are rife with stories of governmental revenge. Homes being seized for a few month's back taxes, bogus tickets being written and worse. Meanwhile, developers defile our borough, litter, pollute, break work orders and build houses of code violations that seem to go unchallenged. Political corruption in Queens is right under everyone's nose in plain sight and you don't even need a nose to sniff it out.

Anonymous said...

(yawn)

Alan said...

Theresa,
I thought your article was interesting and it is bringing more people to this site, which is a good thing. However, I find Matt Hampton's writing style difficult and he does not do enough research on the stories he covers.

I suggested a story a few months ago and felt let down by the outcome in the Trib, but a week later, an accusation in another article was made by another reader but attributed to me. I also felt that the apology by the paper was inadequate. I have seen other readers also voice concerns over Mr. Hampton in the "letters to the editor" section.

Finally, I am disappointed that the Queens Tribune did not run a story on the expansion of the NY Times printing plant. I emailed a letter to the paper and know that your staff was aware of this story. What gives?

As I said in your article, Queens Crap allows me the chance to expose the truth to other citizens in the borough and learn about issues that the other media ignore.

Alan

Queens Crapper said...

I have no problems with Theresa's article. The web address would have been a good thing to include, but then again that's what Google is for.

BaysiDEE said...

There is no such thing as bad publicity except your own obituary. Crap on!

Anonymous said...

Isn't this what the Staviskys were accused of years ago in the Northeast area of Queens......stealing papers from the news stands....that dared to print a unfavorable article about them? H-m-m-m. Is it the Parkside Group, this time, working evenings again?

Anonymous said...

The Q. Trib has always been a sheet for political hacks from the day Gary Ackerman first founded it!

Anonymous said...

Theresa, with all due respect, I was once a weekly reporter for "Manhattan East" (at the age of 24) years ago. Don't be so thin skinned. Reporters are supposed to be more hard boiled. Thanks for the publicity you gave to "Queens Crap".

Anonymous said...

Ms. Juva, you did a good job. Disregard some of these malcontents' criticisms. Anonymous postings, however, are key to unfettered free speech which Peter Zenger (legendary 18th Century journalist who advocated "freedom of the press"), would approve of today.

Anonymous said...

Although I honestly can't stand the Trib, and I get a certain satisfaction out of seeing the headline, "Queens Crap in the Tribune," for the literal meaning, I still enjoyed the article. Well done.