Gotham Gazette http://www.gothamgazette.com/component/tags/tag/390 Thu, 14 Dec 2017 18:55:53 +0000 Joomla! - Open Source Content Management en-gb webmaster@gothamgazette.com (Webmaster) Max & Murphy Podcast: Azi Paybarah http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7135:max-murphy-podcast-azi-paybarah http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7135:max-murphy-podcast-azi-paybarah

Jarrett Murphy, left, of City Limits, and Ben Max, right, of Gotham Gazette


August 17, 2017: Azi Paybarah, senior reporter, Politico New York

Azi PaybarahAzi Paybarah has been a mainstay of New York political media for more than a decade. His @Azi twitter feed is non-stop and well-known; he is co-author of the popular Playbook morning newsletter for Politico New York; his reporting on politics, the NYPD, and criminal justice is insightful, newsy, and sharp. Our Ben Max spoke with Azi at length as he is on the verge of taking a leave of absence from Politico New York because he is one of The University of Michigan's Knight-Wallace Journalism Fellows for the 2017-18 school year. His focus for the fellowship is "Reaching beyond natural audiences: rebuilding media credibility through technology."

Azi and Ben spoke about Azi's career in New York political reporting, which has included his helping usher in the blogging era, launching Capital New York, which was then purchased by Politico, and much more.

Listen to the full conversation and let us know what you think -- we're on Twitter @TweetBenMax and @Azi. You can hear the conversation through the embedded audio below or download it wherever you get your podcasts.

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by Ben Max, Gotham Gazette
     

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Max & Murphy Podcast: Azi Paybarah Thu, 17 Aug 2017 04:00:00 +0000
De Blasio Attempts to Clarify Latest Media Insult http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6806:de-blasio-attempts-to-clarify-latest-media-insult http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=6806:de-blasio-attempts-to-clarify-latest-media-insult de blasio media

Mayor de Blasio speaks to the media (photo: Ed Reed/Mayor's Office)


Mayor Bill de Blasio regularly expresses frustration with the ways New York media covers him and his administration. He believes that his accomplishments are not given enough ink and airtime, and that journalists focus too much on any sign of mistake or conflict, trivial matters, and the “personalities” as he feuds with Governor Andrew Cuomo and Comptroller Scott Stringer.

De Blasio believes that reporters and editors do not reflect in their coverage what New Yorkers really care about and regularly challenges his “friends in the media” to report things “accurately.” While he has most famously and sharply attacked The New York Post as a “right-wing rag,” de Blasio regularly shows more mild disapproval of other publications and those who work at them.

On Friday, de Blasio issued another insult to members of the city press corps when, on WNYC’s The Brian Lehrer Show, he said New Yorkers should not trust journalists to report on the city budget.

“I would really strongly advise, Brian, anyone listening who wants to actually understand the budget to look at the budget and not go through a journalistic outlet to understand the budget,” de Blasio said. The mayor had been asked about a report by City Limits that stated the mayor had, in his preliminary budget, proposed a cut in funding for emergency food assistance. “The budget’s online. Anyone can look at it,” de Blasio added. He explained that his preliminary budget numbers are less important than his track record on an issue, citing 15 years working on food programs.

“There are times when something shows in the budget initially as a certain level of funding,” de Blasio said, “but then it’s still going to go through the executive budget process...and then a process with the City Council...It’s not a cut until the process is over and we say we want to cut something...We do have to go through a negotiation process.”

While the mayor may prefer to call it ‘a reassessment process’ or ‘an initial reduction in proposed funding to start the negotiation process,’ his preliminary budget for next fiscal year does indeed show funding for the emergency food program at about $5 million less than the adopted budget for the current fiscal year. In a follow-up article, City Limits ran through the numbers and the statements after being attacked by the mayor on WNYC.

The mayor and his aides point out that the city budget process includes hundreds of examples of reassessing funding needs, and that in many areas, the city often starts the multi-step budget process with lower funding than what is included in the adopted budget (due by July 1). In a statement to City Limits, a mayoral spokesperson said that de Blasio “suggests that everyone look at the budget over the course of the year” and that it might be better to compare one preliminary budget to the prior preliminary budget. “Ultimately,” the spokesperson said, “the point is that we are constantly assessing need.”

The budget process is, as the mayor says, about priorities and negotiation, and because a specific program has received certain funding levels in the past doesn’t mean that money will be there again -- nor does it mean that funding should remain the same or increase every year.

But, instead of simply explaining the budget process, his approach to it, and how it applies to the specific issue at hand, on WNYC de Blasio issued a broadside against the media writ large, calling into question all reporting on the city budget.

At a press conference on Monday, Gotham Gazette asked the mayor if he stood by his Friday statement that New Yorkers shouldn’t trust media outlets to report on the budget. De Blasio disputed the characterization of his comments, saying, "I was referring to a specific article that I think failed, clearly, to look at the adopted budget of the last three years, which I thought was an omission that went beyond ignorance.”

After the mayor defended his record on emergency food programs, Gotham Gazette pointed out that the mayor had not focused his comment on one media outlet. "I, no no, I don't think that's an accurate statement, I'll gladly get the transcript,” de Blasio said. “I encourage people to look at direct sources. All due respect to the media, you are the middle people. We actually put the budgets online.”

The mayor went on to say, “So, my concern was actually, with deepest respect for Brian Lehrer, that Brian Lehrer was not working from original source materials, he was working from someone else's interpretation, which I believe was an inaccurate interpretation. So I appreciate the breadth of your attempt to interpret, but I believe this was very straightforward."

Gotham Gazette then read the mayor his quote aloud: "I would really strongly advise, Brian, anyone listening who wants to actually understand the budget to look at the budget and not go through a journalistic outlet to understand the budget."

At that point, de Blasio simply replied, "I think encouraging people to look at the budget directly is really smart." He then called on a reporter from another outlet.

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by Ben Max, Gotham Gazette
     

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De Blasio Attempts to Clarify Latest Media Insult Tue, 14 Mar 2017 04:00:00 +0000
The Mayor's Media Blitz http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=5935:the-mayors-media-blitz-de-blasio http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=5935:the-mayors-media-blitz-de-blasio de blasio media parade col day

The mayor & the media (photo: Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office)


Have you heard Mayor de Blasio's voice lately? He's been trying harder to ensure you have, sharply increasing the frequency with which he makes extended appearances on television and radio, and holding events to interact directly with New Yorkers.

Instead of New Yorkers only hearing and seeing quick clips of the mayor on networks covering his press conferences, de Blasio has pursued greater control over his message, making many more broadcast appearances. The push is indicative of a mayor seeking to correct a public perception problem, lift slumping poll numbers, reconnect with his base, and woo more allies.

In September, for example, the mayor averaged about one TV or radio interview per day. In July and August, the mayor averaged just one TV or radio interview per week. Going back to June, it was about two per week - more frequent than during the typically slower summer months that included a family vacation, but less often than recently.

The uptick began in late August after worrisome public opinion polls and de Blasio criticizing media coverage of his administration. The trend then took hold in September as the mayor seized on Pope Francis' visit to New York and the start of a new school year.

The effort to be on the airwaves more is "clearly part of a concerted effort," says Democratic political strategist Alexis Grenell. "It allows him to connect with the electorate, which is good for him and good for the public. Arguably, he should be doing more."

Not coincidentally, the mayor's media blitz has also coincided with an increase in planned in-person interactions with the public: de Blasio did pre-K canvassing, spoke about his housing plans at a church, and held a parents' night at a school, all in Brooklyn; he hosted his first town hall meeting, also focused on housing, on Wednesday evening in Washington Heights.

"It's about time," said Dr. Christina Greer, a Fordham political science professor. Greer thinks that although a bit late into his term, it was smart for de Blasio to do the initial town hall and that it is key for him to be on the airwaves more. "He needs to control the narrative, and you need to give yourself the opportunities to do so. If you don't leave City Hall, the media can craft the narrative more. If you get on the airwaves, you can deliver the message...if you go to the people, they hear it directly from you," Greer says.

With information provided by the mayor's office and gleaned from press advisories, Gotham Gazette counted 13 appearances by de Blasio on radio and TV over 79 days from June 1 through August 18. In the following 55 days, de Blasio made 36 such appearances, beginning with a 40-minute interview on WNYC's The Brian Lehrer Show on August 19.

Asked about the sizeable increase in broadcast interviews, Karen Hinton, the mayor's press secretary, emailed Gotham Gazette to say, "Whether it's walking through a neighborhood - something the Mayor often does spontaneously - or taking questions from the public during a radio show or a Town Hall, Mayor de Blasio is always looking for new ways to communicate with New Yorkers so he can learn more about their problems and find solutions."

Even frequent de Blasio critics see progress. Republican political strategist Jessica Proud told Gotham Gazette that she sees a different, and welcome, approach by the mayor and that she suspects Hinton has been a key force behind it. Proud, who helped run the campaign of de Blasio's general election opponent, Joe Lhota, said the mayor still has a long way to go, but it is positive for all involved if he is on the airwaves more and doing town halls.

"I see a little bit of progress, yes, but he will need a more aggressive pace if he wants to dispel that rap on him," Proud said of the impression that the mayor has been in his own progressive bubble. She said that the mayor and his team have been too siloed, and even as they branch out, they must continue to do more appearances in places like Staten Island, and that the mayor should appear on a broader diversity of radio and TV programs.

"Going on The Brian Lehrer Show, that's right in line with his base and his audience," Proud said, referring to the popular political talk show that appears to be de Blasio's favorite on-air venue. "The media and the public would relish the chance to have more in-depth conversations with him" on a wide variety of topics, she said.

Evan Siegfried, also a Republican strategist, says that more on-air hits are a good thing for any politician, but that de Blasio needs more accomplishments to boast, which comes down to his policies.

Polls show that the mayor must improve voters' perception of him and the direction of the city under his leadership. It's not clear whether New Yorkers are worried about de Blasio's openness to ideas that don't fit his typical focus on inequality and progressivism as he defines it. Proud argued, though, that "there are a lot of city opinion leaders, civic leaders that do matter - their perception of you has a ripple effect."

Grenell, Greer, and Proud all agree that more public exposure is smart for de Blasio in particular because he's actually good at delivering his message. "Some people aren't their own best messengers and need other people to articulate their vision," Greer says, "but [de Blasio] is not that person, he's actually the best person to explain his ideas, he's very good at it."

Grenell thinks similarly: "When you listen to the mayor on the radio, he excels, it is only good for him."

In short, being on the airwaves more, holding more public events to interact with New Yorkers is both good government and good politics.

Still, within de Blasio's media hits lies an ongoing problem for the mayor: his presence on the national stage and the perception that he is not as focused on city governance as he should be.

A handful of the mayor's recent TV appearances have been on national programs, like ABC's This Week with George Stephanopoulos, but that has been a trend for the mayor. The real increase in de Blasio's media presence has been on local radio, with more appearances on WNYC as well as 1010 Wins, Hot 97, and AM 970 The Answer.

While he has mostly feuded with The New York Post, de Blasio has been critical of the media in general, though less so since August, when he expressed concerns with press focus on topics he finds less appropriate than policy points of his agenda.

One way to get around displeasing newspaper coverage is to do fewer press conferences and make more interview appearances over the airwaves. Even if somewhat filtered by the radio or TV host, live appearances offer direct channels to those who tune in.

"I'm baffled by why he and his handlers haven't done this more," Dr. Greer said, "because when he talks to the voters, he resonates. When he talks about New York City he makes you feel like no one wants to fight for New York City more than him."

Greer asserts that de Blasio's favorability will rise "if he does a sustained effort at TV and radio." Similar to Proud, Siegfried said "de Blasio should also be willing to sit down with adversarial media outlets for interviews. It would demonstrate he is not afraid to talk to people that might not laud him with praise."

Greer also said de Blasio should appear on a wide variety of outlets, though she didn't necessarily say they should be "adversarial."

"Hearing him on a station that's not say, NPR, it gives him access to people are who are not necessarily paying attention to the political scene throughout," Greer said, citing what she called a strong appearance on Hot 97.

It's a novel approach aimed at correcting course as de Blasio nears the halfway point of his term: more broadcast interviews, town hall-style events, and even attempting to mend fences with his predecessor, former Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

While the mayor is not shying away from his progressive brand of politics and battle with inequality, he and his team are perhaps recognizing a need to change the narrative and do some things differently in order to capture more good will and public approval.

To date, October hasn't shown the pace of radio and TV appearances de Blasio struck last month, when he was not only tying his agenda to the Pope's visit and promoting his pre-kindergarten program, but also addressing the NYPD's mishandling of former tennis star James Blake and sparring with Governor Cuomo over MTA funding.

When de Blasio returns from a weekend trip to Israel, he'll give indication of whether he intends to resume the more frequent pace of media appearances some say is essential to his potential success.

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by Ben Max, Gotham Gazette
@TweetBenMax

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The Mayor's Media Blitz Fri, 16 Oct 2015 02:35:56 +0000
On Twitter, De Blasio Continues Recent Efforts at Direct Public Contact http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=5865:on-twitter-de-blasio-continues-efforts-at-direct-public-contact http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=5865:on-twitter-de-blasio-continues-efforts-at-direct-public-contact BdB subway mayors office

Mayor de Blasio on the subway (@NYCMayorsOffice)


Mayor Bill de Blasio appears to be making a concerted effort to increase his direct, public interactions with New Yorkers. The mayor, who is more than halfway through his second year in office and has seen his public opinion poll numbers slide, took to Twitter Monday afternoon for a live chat, during which he replied eleven times to people who tweeted questions for him using the hashtag #BDBchat.

At just before 1 p.m., de Blasio's @BilldeBlasio account wrote "Hey New Yorkers, Bill here" and asked how people were preparing for the start of school. This was quickly followed by a tweet that said, "I'm excited to take your questions for the next few minutes. The team says I need a hashtag. Let's use: #bdbchat."

Monday's social media outreach is another in a series of recent efforts by the mayor to highlight the work of his administration and reassure New Yorkers that he is following through on his promises and that the city is headed in the right direction. It has been a tough stretch for the mayor including an unfavorable legislative session in Albany, an ongoing public feud with Governor Andrew Cuomo, much media attention on the city's homelessness crisis, a battle with car-hailing company Uber, controversy over what to do about topless women in Times Square, and other setbacks and challenges. De Blasio has felt that the press has not treated him fairly and after repeatedly criticizing the media, he appears of late to have taken a more proactive approach to communicating directly with the public.

In less than two weeks, the mayor has made two radio appearances, published a lengthy op-ed column in the Daily News, and held his first Twitter chat. These efforts, along with a Saturday afternoon spent canvassing in Brooklyn to promote his pre-Kindergarten program and other public events have had the mayor interacting with constituents in distinct, direct ways. Since becoming mayor, de Blasio has stressed repeatedly that he hears from New Yorkers all the time when he's out and about in the city, sometimes in response to questions about whether he will hold any public town hall meetings.

Even without any acknowledgment of plans for town halls or a shift in communications strategy, there's a noticable difference of late as the mayor looks to correct any perception of his mayoralty as setting the city on the wrong path. The mayor appeared for more than 40 minutes on WNYC's Brian Lehrer Show on August 19, taking several listener calls. He then appeared on Hot 97's morning radio show on August 25, spent time Saturday afternoon promoting pre-K in East Flatbush, and saw his column in the Daily News on Sunday before taking to Twitter Monday afternoon. Not to mention de Blasio taking in a weekend series of Mets games in Queens (the Mets were hosting de Blasio's hometown favorite team, the Boston Red Sox).

A mayoral spokesperson wrote Gotham Gazette to say that "The Mayor is very interested in connecting with New Yorkers directly, both to hear their concerns and thoughts, and to share information about his administration. He will continue to look for creative opportunities to engage with New Yorkers."

On Twitter Monday, de Blasio answered a fraction of the questions sent his way, ignoring the many tweeted by members of the city press corps, who had not been told about the chat ahead of time. The social media outreach was not listed on de Blasio's public schedule sent to members of the media and was given at least an air of spontaneity. De Blasio has said in the past that he does not control his own Twitter account and it is unclear if the mayor himself was typing his tweets on Monday, but the mayor's office assures Gotham Gazette that the answers coming from de Blasio were his.

In answering questions tweeted at him, de Blasio chose a couple of less substantive ones, answering that he is 6'6" tall when asked his height, for example. Otherwise, de Blasio was asked and answered questions about affordability, homelessness, environmental protection, and education. In brief answers that are all that the medium allows, de Blasio provided the link to his OneNYC plan aimed at addressing sustainability and affordability and highlighted efforts to combat homelessness and keep rent increases down in rent-regulated apartments.

On education, de Blasio replied to one particular question two times, writing, "We're focused on improving teacher training and retaining high quality educators" and that his administration has "Moved away from over-reliance on high-stakes testing and ended the misleading grading of schools."

The mayor is due in front of a large group of New Yorkers Monday evening as he is set to make remarks in Queens at the U.S. Open tennis tournament, which has just begun. It's unclear if de Blasio will take the opportunity to highlight any of his policies.

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by Ben Max, Gotham Gazette
@tweetBenMax

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On Twitter, De Blasio Continues Recent Efforts at Direct Public Contact Mon, 31 Aug 2015 18:01:02 +0000