Monday, June 28, 2010

The NY Times Hates the Burbs

For a few years now, the New York Times has seemed to take every chance it's gotten to bash the burbs. It annoys me to no end since the Times actually covers the entire tri-state area (much of which is suburbs), and because the paper routinely tosses aside any journalistic integrity in order to get in a snide dis. This weekend's paper had a prime example.

Like much of the burb bashing, this case was in the Sunday Real Estate section. The lead article was "Large Apartments are the Rage in New York City." The anti-suburb message was implicit throughout, but only hit the level of full-blown bashing with the quote from Darren Sukenik, of Prudential Douglas Elliman: “The new Bergen County or Westchester County is now the West Village and the Upper West or Upper East Sides... Big families are back, and nobody wants to move to suburbia.” Oh really? While Mr. Sukenick is free to have his opinion, and the Times is free to share it, you would think that the reporter (or his editor) would add the caveat that this is someone whose livelihood depends on selling real estate in the city—and who therefore has a vested interest in promoting the city and knocking the burbs. That seems like a journalistic no-brainier. But, instead, the paper chose to use that quote as the call-out, so that readers perusing the paper see the large print blurb "Big families are back and nobody wants to move to suburbia" without even a source noted. The casual reader can be forgiven if she assumes that this is the opinion of the Times or if he thinks that the quote must be backed up by some evidence in the body of the piece. It isn't. Mr. Sukenick is quoted again, this time explaining that his empty-nest clients move to the city because they "don’t want to be stuck in the suburbs with nothing to do.” Now, I don't know which suburbs are being referred to, but perhaps Mr. Sukenick—and the Times reporter—should check out my blog and see the variety of things to do on a regular basis here in Northern Westchester.

Earlier in the week, in Wednesday's paper, there was another case of burb bashing. The article "Helping Parents Tune In to That Inner Voice," featured Kiki Schaffer, director of the 14th Street Y’s Parenting, Family and Early Childhood Center. In the section titled "Parenting City Kids," Ms. Schaffer is quoted as saying "Having raised my kids in the city, they have said, 'Thank you, we’re really glad you didn’t move to the suburbs.'” Since this quote is off-topic and rather stupid—how do the kids know what life in the burbs would have been like?—I would have expected the editor to cut it. Silly me.


Anonymous said...

The perception in NYC is that a lot of families, who would in the past move to NJ, CT, Westchester or LI are now opting to stay in the city. The issue at hand is what means a lot. In the tri-state area of 20m and the tightness of the market in Manhattan and parts of Brooklyn you only need a small fraction of parents opting to stay in (or move to) the city to generate an observable 'trend' in NYC while at the same time the majority is still moving/living in the burbs.

Anonymous said...

I agree that the Times definitely knocks the suburbs a lot. It is the city paper though, even if it covers the suburbs too.

We are planning on leaving Brooklyn for the suburbs and there are defintely people who think we're crazy. But we know plenty of other people who have done it already and are vry happy.

Anonymous said...

I'm moving out of Manhattan to the suburbs too. Sadly, people take that to mean that I'm casting aspersions on their decision to stay and raise their kids here. I just pretend that I don't really want to move, that I'm being forced, so there are no ruffled feathers.

The assumption in my neighborhood is that suburban living is a form of evil. My neighbors are quite snooty about it.

Anonymous said...

I know a lot of people who are looking at areas to move to and most are looking at the city and suburbs. But there are a few who refuse to consider the suburbs at all. I showed one of them this blog and photos of some of the houses featured and she was like "Oh, ok." It wasn't her idea of the suburbs that she hates!

Anonymous said...

Yeah, when people come to visit me in Cortlandt they say, but you like in the WOODS not the burbs. That's different. There's a perception out there of the burbs as pure evil for sure.

Anonymous said...

I have the same experience all the time. When I tell the youngsters in my office about my old house or about hiking in the woods or even just hearing live music at the coffee house they always look confused and say I thought you live in the suburbs. They seem to really think that all suburbs are McMansions surrounded by malls and that we do nothing but go shopping.