Someone updated CBS2 reporter Marcia Kramer’s Wikipedia page on Sunday to reflect the strange direction her reporting has gone in during these recent months. It’s the first entry that comes up when you do a Google search for her name and more or less reduces her Emmy-winning career to her Ahab-like obsession with Janette Sadik-Khan and the Prospect Park West bike lane. There are also not-so-subtle digs at Prospect Park residents Chuck Schumer and Iris Weinshall, whose own obsession with JSK is boiled down to a bad case of not wanting to be outshined by her successor.
Despite my more Inigo-Montoya-style PPW obsession, I’m not a Wikipedia contributor and had nothing to do with the edit. I first learned about it when I saw this tweet. As entertaining as it is to read, I’m not even 100% convinced that this kind of tactic or political satire, if that’s what you want to call it, is all that helpful.
Since Wikipedia pages get changed all the time, here’s a lengthy reposting of the relevant paragraphs, all under the sub-heading of “Journalistic Credibility Issues.”
By the close of 2010, Kramer’s journalistic ethics and credibility suffered another serious blow as she launched a dubious crusade against the New York City Department of Transportation’s redesign of Prospect Park West in Brooklyn’s Park Slope neighborhood. Despite data showing DOT’s street reconfiguration had reduced dangerous motor vehicle speeding and provided numerous benefits to cyclists, pedestrians and motorists, Kramer repeatedly aired news segments disputing the City’s data and claiming DOT’s redesign had made Prospect Park West more dangerous. Though the Prospect Park West redesign was the result of years of community process and extensive surveying by the local Community Board and two City Council members showed the project was popular with an overwhelming majority of local residents, Kramer’s coverage selectively portrayed the project as being disliked and imposed upon the community by the administration of Mayor Michael Bloomberg and his transportation commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan.
If it was somewhat of a mystery why CBS2’s chief political correspondent would spend so much time on a popular, well-functioning one mile-long stretch of bike lane in Brooklyn, the reason behind Kramer’s ongoing negative coverage became clearer in February 2011 when Streetsblog, a New York City transportation policy web site, exposed Kramer’s close personal relationship to U.S. Senator Charles Schumer. Schumer is a long-time resident of Prospect Park West along with his wife Iris Weinshall. As Sadik-Khan’s predecessor at the New York City Department of Transportation, Commissioner Weinshall was known for her adherence to outdated automobile-centric policies and for stymieing projects aimed at making New York City streets safer and more accessible to cyclists and pedestrians.
Upon taking over in 2007, Sadik-Khan rapidly transformed NYC DOT into the nation’s most innovative and widely admired big city transportation agency. Weinshall, for her part, largely stayed away from New York City transportation policy issues until the redesign of her own street in the spring of 2010. Later that year, Weinshall helped to create a group calling itself Neighbors for Better Bike Lanes (NBBL) aimed at the removal of the Prospect Park West bike lane. Kramer’s ongoing coverage provided a platform for NBBL press releases and “exclusives.”
Despite all of the discussion and debate over street safety, the biggest casualty on Prospect Park West was Marcia Kramer’s journalistic credibility.
Ouch. Is Tony Aiello next?