Triangle Factory Fire Event – Plus Mainstream Media Omits Response to the Mayor from Reports

The Street After the Event

Signs were held with names of the 146 workers who died

Original Site Greene & Washington Place

Breaking Down Event (Washington Sq Park in background)

The Triangle Factory Fire occurred on March 25, 1911 and killed 146 workers, mostly young women. As I wrote last week, this past Friday marked the 100th Anniversary of the fire. I attended the annual commemoration at the site, one block from Washington Square Park. You wouldn’t know from any of the major NYC media reports that when Mayor Michael Bloomberg spoke, he was not welcomed, and was, in fact, steadily booed. (Despite really wanting to hear the Mayor’s speech to witness exactly this – what the crowd’s response to him would be – I dashed over to Think Coffee and missed him! Luckily, there is YouTube.)

It appears Agence France-Presse was the only major news agency to report it. Was the Triangle Fire 100th Anniversary event considered so prestigious that the media did not want to tarnish the Mayor’s tenuous image further? (Google “Bloomberg booed at St. Patrick’s Day Parade” and then “Bloomberg booed at Triangle Fire” to see how this works. One will reveal mainstream media reports; the other will not.) Of course, there is YouTube and many bloggers and other sites that are more than willing to write about this. Still, it’s a bit curious.

One downside to how the event was set up – NYPD set up barricades splitting the crowd between the event’s three block radius on Washington Place, leaving Mercer Street, for example, open (but not to access the event). It dissipated the synergy of the crowd and didn’t make the event safer (the “pens” make everything feel less safe).

* Previous WSP Blog post: Triangle Fire 100th Anniversary Commemoration March 25th

* Many photos of the event, including a procession from Union Square, at Staten Island Bob’s site.

Room 8: The role of bloggers as citizen journalists

Brooklyn BlogFest Sign * May 2008

Brooklyn BlogFest Sign * May 2008

On the day I testified at the City Council term limits public hearing, one of the other panelists was a journalist from a site called Room 8. Room 8 describes itself as: “the imaginary neighbor to New York City Hall’s legendary press room, Room 9. It’s a place for insiders and informed outsiders to have a running conversation about New York politics.”

Yesterday, Room 8 featured a post about the role of bloggers in covering Mayor Bloomberg and the whole term limits fiasco. In an article titled, “Was the Lie of ‘Consistent Leadership’ Old Media’s Last Stand?,” Oneshirt writes:

Only the city’s bloggers like Your Free Press, Pardon Me For Asking, The Brooklyn Optimist, The Daily Gotham, Queens Crap, and Washington Square Park [note: yes, yours truly] reported to their readers during the term limits debate that the Council’s argument for continuity of leadership to save the city’s economy was nothing more than public relations spin to cover the Council’s blatant power grab for an additional term in office. At the same time these citizen journalists across the City were reporting the real facts, the Mayor was meeting with the publishers of the three major dailies to coordinate a cover story for his support of extending term limits.

The writer then notes a lawsuit that lawyer Normal Siegel (who is running for Public Advocate and is one of the lawyers on the term limits lawsuit) has filed on behalf of bloggers – “citizen journalists” – who have been denied official press passes by the NYPD (which issues these media credentials):

Siegel’s lawsuit argues that … in favoring corporate-employed reporters over citizen journalists and independent bloggers, the City’s press credentialing system effectively chooses to license primarily staid, cautious reporting – with a strong bent toward corporate coddling – over the dynamic, unadulterated articles of journalists like [plaintiff Rafael] Martinez-Alequin.

The article ends by stating:

The city’s fast-emerging community of bloggers is quickly growing its readership simply by providing the type of truthful analysis that is hard to find in the City’s dailies. In so doing, New York’s blogosphere has established itself as the City’s premiere forum to debate controversial opinions, encourage participation in local politics, and further the belief that people should control their own lives.

I’ve thought often about the role of New York City’s bloggers in reporting the dramatic changes in our city under Mayor Bloomberg which go largely unreported by the mainstream media. Without this information, one day we’d all wake up, would not recognize anything about where we are and we’d wonder how it happened.