To the media, Queens is all the same
by Ed Wendell
Nov 10, 2015 | 12281 views | 4 4 comments | 24 24 recommendations | email to a friend | print
This past weekend, a man was found dead in Forest Park. We don’t know the details of what happened yet, but our thoughts and prayers are with the man’s friends and family. But this column isn’t about that incident, instead it is about how the media covers incidents in Woodhaven and other parts of Queens.

Here is how the New York Daily News described the location of where the deceased man was found: "The man was found in Forest Park on Myrtle Avenue near Woodhaven Boulevard in Kew Gardens."

Clearly this doesn’t add up and I contacted the writer via Twitter to let him know that “Myrtle Avenue near Woodhaven Boulevard” wasn’t real close to Kew Gardens.

It’s walking distance, but it’s far from accurate. Either the body was found in Kew Gardens and the street names are wrong or the streets are right and the neighborhood is wrong.

The writer tried to defend his description by saying that “the park is in between Glendale and Kew Gardens.” Sure enough, Forest Park is very large and different parts of it live in different neighborhoods. But that doesn’t make “Myrtle Avenue near Woodhaven Boulevard” any closer to Kew Gardens than it was before.

In the end, the Daily News must have listened to my complaint because now the lead sentence reads: “A man was found dead in Forest Park in Flushing, Queens.”

Flushing! It’s as if they were blindfolding their writers and asking them to throw darts at a map of Queens. They might want to avail themselves of a recent invention that helps when you’re unfamiliar with geography: It’s called Google and they have all sorts of maps on there.

For the record, according to the 102nd Precinct, the man was found within the park, just north of Myrtle Avenue in Richmond Hill. They’ve stationed officers near the crime scene, just off of Freedom Drive.

But even without a precise location, it would have been very easy to look at a map to determine that “Myrtle Avenue near Woodhaven Boulevard” was not that close to Kew Gardens and over six miles away from Flushing.

Does this really matter? Only if the facts matter. It’s not just this incident of bad reporting that aggravates residents of Queens; this is just the latest in a long string of cases where the media gets the locations in Queens wrong. When it comes to our borough, there is a long pattern of casual disregard for accuracy.

The first time it bothered me was the time that a reporter from Eyewitness News stood on Jamaica Avenue and ended his segment saying that he was reporting from “Woodside, Queens.” Woodhaven, Woodside, what difference does it make?

Another time, when they were digging up the backyard of a former gangster in Ozone Park looking for former friends and acquaintances of said gangster, the media outlet breaking the story initially reported the location as Woodhaven and every other media outlet followed their lead and did the same.

That’s another troubling part of this: all of these reporters copy each other’s work. You remember what happened when you were a kid in school and you copied off of someone else’s paper? You ended up copying all their wrong answers too.

One of the worst examples was when a reporter filed a story about a woman being stabbed at the Woodhaven Boulevard station on Jamaica Avenue. Locally, people were upset and the WRBA received a number of calls from outraged residents.

However, one detail about the story bothered me. It said that the victim was brought to Elmhurst Hospital instead of Jamaica. When I asked the reporter if this might have happened at the Woodhaven Boulevard station on Queens Boulevard, he responded “You mean there’s two Woodhaven Boulevard stations?” The story was quickly corrected.

These are just a few examples of the many dozens of times that this has happened over the past few years. Listen, people make mistakes, we understand. And we recognize that sometimes there is a rush to get the story on the air or on the Internet; reporters have deadlines and they sometimes need to cut corners.

But over time, some reporters (especially from citywide outlets) have regularly shown just how unfamiliar they are about the terrain out here in Queens and, frankly, we’re sick of it.

Comments-icon Post a Comment
December 08, 2015
Now you know how we upstaters feel every time people assume that if we are from New York we must be from the city;-)
November 14, 2015
long before Google. the post office breaks Queens into either Jamaica or Flushing.

Also Glendalien.
November 13, 2015
Yeah some of my mail says flushing.
November 13, 2015
Actually Google Maps is probably where they came up with the Flushing location. I live in Glendale, but Google Maps thinks I live in flushing due to the long, confusing history of the 11385 area code.