As part of the Turkish Cultural Center Brooklyn’s (TCC Brooklyn) “Media Talks” series, the Amity School will host Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and Marine Park resident Paul Moses, who will discuss “How to Build a Career in Media,” Monday, February 4 at 3:00 p.m. The discussion will be held inside the Amity School, 3867 Shore Parkway between Brigham Street and Knapp Street, right off the Belt Parkway.
If Moses’ name rings a bell, that’s because, in the days following Superstorm Sandy, the teacher of journalism at Brooklyn College and the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism submitted to us his first local reporting piece in decades, about hard-hit Gerritsen Beach being virtually ignored both in their recovery efforts and by much of the mainstream media.
Paul Moses, a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter and Marine Park resident, spoke before the Madison-Marine-Homecrest Civic Association on Thursday, discussing the media’s lackluster response to Southern Brooklyn’s disaster zones in the wake of Hurricane Sandy.
“There’s been some brilliant journalism in recent days, but there was a slow start in reporting the extent of the storm’s impact,” said Moses. “I think it’s fair to say that Southern Brooklyn has gotten relatively little media attention.”
Moses said that the citywide press did some stellar reporting, exemplified by stories about the state’s and city’s role in the gas shortage, the Long Island Power Authority’s failures, and the struggles at city housing projects.
But in the first days after the storm, Moses said there were few stories that focused on Southern Brooklyn and Queens, though the press was quick to report in the immediate aftermath at locations like downtown Manhattan, Red Hook, New Jersey and Staten Island. It wasn’t until several days – and sometimes more than a week – that communities like Gerritsen Beach, Manhattan Beach and Sheepshead Bay found their way into the newspapers.
But media should have been on the scene in these neighborhoods immediately after the storm, he said, in order to convey the most important and useful information for victims and those looking to help.
“In a time of disaster, the journalist’s role is to notify the public of impending danger and to give people the vital information they need, and to tell people where the damage is, and to tell the stories of the people who’ve been affected,” said Moses. “Through what we report on, the public at large finds out where the greatest needs are after the disaster and often will respond accordingly.”
“I really found the overall coverage in the first few days disappointing,” Moses added.
Paul Paradiso, left, Michele Thorne and Christopher Thorne at Gerritsen Beach Fire Department hall on Thursday.
By Paul Moses
Owning little more than he wore, Paul Paradiso lumbered forward on crutches into the cool dark training hall of the Gerrittsen Beach Fire Department to see if he could find some clothes.
A bar-on-a-barge floated into Gerritsen Beach. Neighbors lightened the mood by sharing shots in it after the water receded.
Doreen Garson, assistant chief of the Vollies, as the volunteer department is called, told him to look inside the big plastic bags heaped on a set of folding tables– there weren’t enough people available yet to sort clothes local residents had donated.
Like nearly everyone living in Gerritsen Beach’s old section, Paradiso, 42, was wiped out Monday night by the rising floodwaters from Hurricane Sandy. The couch floated in the living room of his Canton Court home and the refrigerator flipped over and drifted in the kitchen. His wife, Michele Thorne, 45, said she nearly drowned trying to move their Volvo to safety; she and her 17-year-old daughter got out when the window opened automatically. Then they linked arms and held onto a street pole to withstand the water gushing through their street.
There are harrowing stories to be heard everywhere in Gerritsen Beach, as in Sheepshead Bay, Manhattan Beach, Brighton Beach, Coney Island, Sea Gate and Rockaway. But somehow, Gerritsen Beach has largely escaped attention, especially in the daily newspapers. The New York Post did, however, run a 150-word story in Thursday morning’s paper that called the Gerritsen Beach “the forgotten disaster zone.” A few broadcast news operations then reported from the neighborhood on Thursday.
“We sort of got lost in the mix over here,” Thorne said as she paused from looking through piles of clothes to find a coat for her 12-year-old son, Christopher Thorne. When she had the opportunity on Wednesday, she posted her own message-in-a-bottle on Facebook, saying that “We need help” and “nobody knows how bad it is out here.”