ESDC Raids Newsday

Errol Cockfield has joined the Empire State Development Corporation as press secretary, the second Newsday staffer to defect to the state’s economic development agency that is now run by a Long Islander.

How did this happen?

The ESDC’s new senior vice president for communications, A.J. Carter, was the first hire. As Newsday‘s associate business editor and business columnist, he told The Real Estate that he knew Pat Foye, the downstate ESDC co-chairman, back when Mr. Foye was president of the United Way of Long Island. “He’s somebody I wrote about off and on,” Mr. Carter said. In fact, he even broke the story in November of Mr. Foye’s leaving for an undefined job in the Spitzer administration. Mr. Carter, dispelling notions that his hire somehow represented a conflict of interest, said his discussions about a job came well after that.

Mr. Cockfield was one of several applicants for the job of press secretary. But since he had been stationed in Albany as bureau chief for the previous two years, and before that in Manhattan, he hardly knew Mr. Carter. Mr. Cockfield, it turned out, had the scoop in December on what job it was exactly that Mr. Foye was getting. Mr. Cockfield won’t reveal his sources, but he told The Real Estate that he and Mr. Foye never met until his job interview for the ESDC post.

“Errol clearly was the best,” Mr. Carter said. “The fact that we both came from the same place didn’t matter.”

Of course, it’s no secret that the newspaper industry, and Newsday in particular, has had its own troubles recently. Mr. Carter said that, after 34 years at the paper, he was ready for a change. Mr. Cockfield, a 10-year veteran, was more frank.

“It’s not the same journalism as it used to be,” he said. “In government, I felt I could have much more influence.”

- Matthew Schuerman