Last Friday’s post about The Brooklyn Papers’ story on focus groups on Atlantic Yards (PDF) turned out to be way more trouble than it was worth.
In response to our question about why, if the newspaper had a tape of a session, it didn’t quote from it, the newspaper’s editor-in-chief, Gersh Kuntzman, e-mailed us to say: “Why didn’t we quote from it?! Because the people whose voices were recorded on that tape did not consent to be quoted in advance and their identities could not be verified merely from listening to the tape. When they spoke on the tape, they presumed that what they were saying was private. We merely listened to the tape as a way of confirming what people outside the meeting told us.”
Hey, we just thought there might be some juicy stuff in there, that’s all.
Ariella Cohen, the reporter who wrote the story, told us when we called to clarify that she believed even the moderators of the focus groups deserved privacy. She added that she stood outside the office where the sessions took place and talked to about eight participants to get first-hand accounts.
Forest City Ratner is asserting that only 70 people participated in the focus groups . But The Brooklyn Papers is standing by its story, which stated that there were thousands of participants. Cohen said the number came from an official at the focus group company, Recruiting Resources Unlimited, and that she was unable to confirm it with Forest City since the developer refused to acknowledge that it was doing focus groups.
Whew! Well, at least we know people are reading—that is, at least the people we are writing about are reading.