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More Fingerboard Follies

I love it: they flat-out blew the coverage on a local story, and then complain the story’s subsequent twists and turns has made their heads hurt, as they do in today’s lead editorial: What’s going on here?

As journalists working at the news-gathering hub of Staten Island, we like to think we understand every story inside and out — not just the essential facts, but, as they like to say in Hollywood, the “back story” as well.

But we have to admit that the controversy surrounding the College of Staten Island’s proposal to expand its already sprawling campus to allow space for dormitories has us a little confused.

Make that a lot confused.

If you folks are such hotshot journalists, why did it take you so long to catch on that CSI’s Marlene Springer was talking out of her ass about her dormitory plan? She announced this scheme at the end of December, claiming, as your editorial today states:

The $80-million expansion plan, developed over the previous 18 months, had the support of “every local politician” Dr. Springer enthused.

According to the Retreat’s time-crippled archives, after generating a firestorm of local opposition the idea was flatly rejected by the agency who would be required to turn over the property.

… OMRDD spokeswoman Deborah Sturm Rausch said the agency has no plans to give up any of its land or buildings …(snip)…

“We have no intention to enter into such an ordeal,” she said Friday. “As far as we’re concerned, the matter is over.”

So, you grizzled pro journos working at “the news-gathering hub of Staten Island,” I wanna know: after she announced this scheme, did anyone on Fingerboard Road pick up a phone and get OMRDD’s stance on the plan, or so much as one local politician–who Springer had claimed were all on board as supporting CSI’s land grab–to go on the record supporting her claim that Island politicians unanimously backed the plan? No one got off their fat ass down at your little Borough Hall bullpen and actually asked Beep Jimmy if her statement was, you know … like, something that was actually true? Did that question ever even enter your J-school tool minds?

Answer: No. You admit in the editorial you just “assumed” Springer had worked out the details and her scheme was a done deal. You jackasses! Rule One in any half-baked Journalism 101 class is supposed to be “verify all the relevant facts.” You know, the old “Who, What, When, Where” checklist bullshit… fer Chrissakes, a high school paper’s editor would know better than to just take some academic bureuacrat hack like Springer’s word about a deal this big! Especially someone at CSI (or as I call the joint: the 13th Grade), which already has the biggest campus in the CUNY system. How the hell would they get the eighty million bucks to pull this off? Do you think for a heartbeat’s time the other campuses would accept CUNY spending that kind of bread on the system’s newest, most modern campus? For dorms? They’d go fucking insane! Brooklyn and Hunter students alone would howl so loud it would be reverberating all the way to Albany.

You didn’t do so much as cursory legwork when she made her initial announcement and issued her press release. On something that anyone with half a brain would have realized was a fairly heavy local story, you fucking choked, and now you’re claiming to be “confused” about the story’s twists and turns?

If you performed anything resembling the proper due diligence your “professional” status requires, within hours of the plan’s announcement hitting your desks, you should have contacted all the local politicians and gotten them on the record concerning Springer’s scheme. Christ, they’d all be putting their asses on the line if they actually backed the plan as she presented it: trying to convince other politicians across the city and state to fork over that kind of dough (if this plan wasn’t more than a Springer/CSI inhouse delusional wet dream) would be a hard sell in the best of times; in CUNY’s cuurent economic reality, with tuition climbing to meet costs and Albany all too ready to jack that number up further, it would be an impossible bill of goods to sell that kind of an expenditure. Politicians representing the neighborhoods containing every other CUNY campus would be demanding a slice of the pie for their guys. But you haven’t actually talked to any of the local pols on this hot button topic, even to this day, have you, you fools?

From them we’ve heard: not a word. In all the articles since this shit hit the fan (including today’s editorial), I have yet to see cited any local politician’s position on this whole imbroglio…were any of them actually there when she made her announcement? That would be a pretty big tipoff, wouldn’t it, if not one of them was standing alongside her while she was saying every one of them was on board, that she was just lying her ass off about her grandiose land-grab’s political partners.

Were any of your own reporters even there when she originally unveiled this crap? Or did you just go with the press release’s claims as your fishwrap’s accepted level of “professional” reporting standards? “She said it, so I guess it’s gotta be true.” FUCK YOU!

She blew smoke up your collective asses and you’re still basically backing her dormitory plan? You should be howling for her to be put in stocks for floating this bullshit! She conned you right out of your tight whities. Hook, line, sinker you took her bait and took a dive.

If I pulled something like that here, my comment section would be on fucking fire for pulling an asshattedly sloppy bit of reporting like you dolts originally performed, and then offered such a windy, weak-assed mea culpa as you offered up here. The blogosphere would burn my servers to the ground under the invective I’d bring down on my head if I tried selling that kind of shit.

But considering the Staten Island Retreat’s nepotistic, narcissistic, closed shop culture, with no competition; an absolutely clueless top management all seemingly biding time, so goddamned entrenched in a newsroom that’ll never push them to bring their “A” game to the paper’s pages but positively infused with their belief of their professional worth, nobody is gonna pay a price for your entire “professional” staff’s absolute amateur handling of this story, and then declared “confusion,” instead of just admitting “we fucked the story up, big time.”

That paradigm is gonna change, Skippy. Bank on it. Big Daddy Newhouse over in the Conde Nast tower might not currently give a shit if you clowns turn a profit, but with outfits like Craigslist and eBay cutting your advertising revenues closer and closer to the bone by stealing you classifieds, and all the usual display advertising suspects moving their budgets to technologically cheap-to-create, easy to distribute video, affordably broadcasted on more and more numerous cable channels (usually including a blurb for their web sites) that will be delivered to more eyeballs than your piddling print run could ever dream to draw.

if a Staten Island story is “big” enough, Google NewsAlerts inform me every morning, and I can get a far superior product from the Daily News, Post, Newsday or NY1 than your Junior League journos could ever possibly provide. The only product you can offer that I can’t find in other places will be the hyperlocal stuff, and at that, you suck. You’re too dumb, lazy and/or just gutless to do more than regurgitate the same old “kiss the powers that be (real and presumed) square on the ass and never rock the boat by doing any remotely insightful reporting” that made me write off the notion of ever again paying for your fishwrap so many years ago. When you totally bollix a local story, like you did in this case, I know my decision was right.

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