Let Them Write! Let Them Write!

Oh C'mon! Everyone Loves a Bad News Bears Reference!

I recently read a posting from The Brooklyn View's Ed DeMarche that, ironically enough, was a blog discussing why he feels that bloggers should not be issued press credentials. The topic has been flying around the good ol' InterWeb recently. Sheepshead Bites has a great accounting of the plight of bloggers who were denied credentials. GerritsenBeach.net picked up some editorial content regarding "old media" and their preferential treatment of notable persons that, to say the least, gets a tad controversial.

(Just a word about that latter blog entry - because it has the potential of exploding, in my opinion. When it comes to unsubstantiated opinion, I never blindly accept what is posited by anyone, and suggest that we all deal in supported facts. I also think that at the very least, that much is owed to the subject of the entry - no matter what your personal opinion of that person may be.)

Here's the short version of my opinion for everyone with a short attention span: The days of labeling bloggers in one negative lump are over. Many have earned their stripes and deserve the privilege of credentialing, and traditionalists in "old media" and the gatekeepers of credentialed events should embrace those that have shown they can live up to the standards of journalism instead of summarily dismissing bloggers - and others still should look to their own and not worry about what the "competition" should and should not have, because they're not exactly bastions of journalistic ethics.

Now the long version...

Before you say "Oh no, here comes another big mouth blogger", yes, I have a VERY big mouth, but hold your horses there, pal! I'm newer to blogging than I am to journalism! To the uninformed, I'm part owner of the largest independent sports media company in New York, Gotham Sports Media, and Publisher of Gotham Baseball Magazine. You think living up to city standards for credentialing is hard - try Major League Baseball, which we have now for years! So I know a thing or three about the standards of journalistic integrity, and obtaining credentials not only for city events, but for national sporting events.

Anyways, back on topic... You can't paint all bloggers with the same brush.

Here's an example of a way to decide which bloggers should be credentialed: First, parse out the blogs that deal in current events and handle op-ed from the strictly opinion blogs. Then, parse out the bloggers with an policy agenda from those that go after all news in the interest of reporting local news.

Then look to the work - because in the end, that's what's most important - not the source.

I happen to think that we have two great examples of high-quality news bloggers in our area with Ned & Ray at Sheepshead Bites and Dan at GerritsenBeach.net. They attend as many local meetings as possible, they're respectful and professional in how they go about their work, and their work product is timely and informative. And they're passionate about what they do. I would have no problem recommending them to my editorial board for credentials at any stadium in the nation. (Another side note - sports media has started moving in this direction - look at SNY's Blog Network as a great example. The rest, I'm sure will catch up in the future.)

In fact, I'd take their writing over some of the, well... let's call them "marginal" local newspapers that some neighborhoods are saddled with. Many a time, I've seen stories first reported in a blog lifted by print and become fraught with inaccuracies, and photos lifted from online sources without permission. Hell, even more established "media sources" lift stories from blogs - Mr. DeMarche admits being inspired by Sheepshead Bites in his posting. At least he has the integrity to say that he reads blogs, which many others deny until blue in the face even while sitting at their computer monitor looking for their next "scoop".

Point being, there are bad apples in both bushels. But why is one more deserving of the credentialing process than the other? It's like "old media" is claiming a quasi-monopoly over the news with government's assistance.

How much would it really take to create an examination process whereby bloggers who meet a certain standard for the city to give them a pass? Not much I would think. If "old media" doesn't want to be associated with them or is government is wary of them, then create a "blogger pass" with its owns standards and access. Just don't slam the door in their face! Citizen Journalism is Here, and it's not going anywhere.

Ok, enough's enough - here's the conclusion. If someone has the passion and the drive to blog on current events and to make a commitment to do it as efficiently and as diligently as possible, then what is really the difference between a freelance reporter and a blogger?

Only the medium, and the meager pay - and if they're willing to work for free, then who are we to put up obstacles?

With Apologies to Brooklyn Bar Association...

I didn't realize that when I named this blog that there may be confusion with another "Brooklyn Barrister". But, after a simple Google search, I found the publication run by the Brooklyn Bar Association. Not being a member myself (I'm working mostly out of Manhattan now, and have pledged my allegiance to NYCLA), I didn't even think to look for it.

So much for me being clever.... I should've known that I couldn't think up a catchy name that wasn't already out there! Not the greatest of moves on my part! Not the first time I screwed up, sure won't be the last.

As a means of atonement, I encourage everyone to check out the Brooklyn Bar Association's website - and further encourage you to use them as a resource if you legal counsel in Brooklyn.

My Take on The Whole "Development v. Neighborhood Preservation" Issue

If you've ever gone to a Community Board meeting - and chances are, you haven't - then you'd know that there's a growing divide between those who feel that neighborhoods should be totally preserved, and those who feel that neighborhoods should change with the influx of new residents.

(There I am, yappin', and yappin' at CB15, and probably not saying much!)

Actually you don't need to go to a Community Board meeting to know this, but if you did, you'd see that the tension is palpable.

And it's all over the place - Sheepshead Bay, Manhattan Beach, Marine Park, Homecrest... and each neighborhood has their own story. But in all of them, neighbor is pitted against neighbor.

Let's get my personal view out of the way - although I have vocally in favor of preserving my neighborhood, I do so in the face of what I believe is haphazard development with no real plan and no regard for the infrastructure in the neighborhood. I am NOT against properly planned development that doesn't tax infrastructure, and doesn't harm immediate neighbors.

Translation, I believe that there's gotta be a middle ground. And in that spirit, I have a lot to say to both sides.

To those who believe in neighborhood preservation: I get it, things are great the way they are, and people should conform to how things are. But is that really what you want? If nothing changes, well... then nothing changes. Life becomes stale and stagnant. There's no growth, no differing opinions, no progress. Yes, things are good the way they are, but things can always be improved, and we should all strive towards progress and improvement, shouldn't we?

You need to get off that high horse and stop crusading. Not every home is a landmark, and not all change is bad. Get to know your new neighbors, and instead of questioning why a homeowner needs an extra bedroom (which frankly is none of your business), welcome them and engage them as much as you can. You might even make a friend!

To those who think that neighborhoods were meant to be changed: You think I just made the argument for you, right? WRONG. You see, you can go too far as well. I gotta think that you came to a given neighborhood for a reason - probably because you like the neighborhood and what it offers. So why change it radically? Why not integrate yourself into the neighborhood before you decide to alter it? Get involved in local activities - hell, just get to know your neighbors! You may find that things, for the most part, are just peachy.

You may also find that if you are good to your neighbors, change is more likely to be embraced than protested. You need to remember that just because you CAN do something doesn't mean you SHOULD do something. I mean, do you want to be the family that everyone on the block hates because you had dumpsters and construction workers blocking the street for weeks so you can have a house that sticks out like a sore thumb?

I mean honestly, do you think anyone should have to live with a monstrosity like this one next to them? (Thanks Cliff for giving the photo scale!)

See a common theme? Both sides have to take John, Paul, George and Ringo's advice and "come together" somehow. If it's only a case-by-case basis, then great! It's a start. But the leaders of both factions need to come to some kind of understanding.

Easier said than done, I know. I mean, there's all kinds of barriers besides your views on building. There are most likely cultural differences and stereotypes, religious divides, and other schisms. I for one didn't talk to a friend for months because he said the Mets suck, so I know how hard compromise can be!

And on a side note, next year is our year!

But for the sake of everyone involved, it has to be done. That is, unless you plan on surrounding your house with barbed wire fencing and posting gun turrets on every corner, or you like being a small minded shut-in that interacts with no one but "your own kind".

And if either is the case, you probably shouldn't come by here so often...

Let's get started building more than just structures.


If you've found this blog already, then wow, I'm impressed! I just told a few people about it.

If you don't know me, check out my bio... when I put it up.

I intend for this blog to be many things:"

1) My "legal diary" - A place to comment on the law. I feel like I am growing and becoming a good advocate for my clients - hopefully a tool like this will help in that growth.

2) My "soap box" - A spot to rant about the South Brooklyn political scene, a topic that I've become acquainted with over the course of the past few years. For too long, my family members have been the victims of my ranting and raving... now all of you can share their pain!

3) My "check and balance" - Hopefully, more than a few of you will feel strongly enough about something to comment on what I wrote. I encourage you to challenge me on EVERYTHING! Call me out or whatever I say on here, please! I firmly believe that we all benefit from the give and take of debate, and from seeing things from different points of view. As my closest friends like to point out to me - often - no matter how strongly I think to the contrary, I'm not always right!

I know, I was shocked by that too. So feel free to go after what I say and think, it's all good.

Anyways, I also promise that it won't be all work and no fun... there'll be a nice balance of both.

I hope you stop back every once in a while, and if you're so moved to, feel free to comment on anything. I promise to comment back.