Why is the NY Times So Focused on Race in its Real Estate Articles?

J Philip Faranda June 17, 2010

Are you a bigot who wants to be steered toward towns with a certain demographic? I can’t help you out, but the New York Times seems very eager to pitch in. 

This past February, Elsa Brenner did a nice hatchet job on my neighboring village of Pleasantville, NY featuring this pearl of wisdom, where she referred to the “7,200 residents of this affluent and overwhelmingly white village.” One can only wonder if Elsa has ever referred to any other area as overwhelmingly Hispanic or overwhelmingly African American. The title of the article was the not very subtle “They’d Like to Keep it That Way.”

I guess the editors saw that suggestion too, so last week’s article on Mamaroneck was just titled “Mamaroneck, NY.” Too bad the editors didn’t read the rest of the article, where Elsa delivers the following gem:

Census figures depict a largely white population; but when compared with similar neighboring communities Mamaroneck has more variety: Of about 18,400 residents, 18 percent describe themselves as Hispanic and 4 percent as black, along with smaller percentages of Japanese, Chinese and South Asian.

Can you imagine the scandal if a licensee were to say that? Of course Elsa is working as a journalist, so she has a lower bar than a licensed agent. However, the outcome is the same, and that is a sad thing for us all. One would think that the equal housing laws which prohibit steering and ethnic/racial considerations for licensees are something the Times supports; too bad they don’t walk the talk. 

I made my feelings known in the Pleasantville article about Elsa’s underwhelming effort. I was not alone. Comments were disabled for the Mamaroneck article, despite the fact that both are in the “living in” series. 

I do not feel that I am being excessive or mean spirited in pointing this out. There is a finite amount of copy in any printed article, and for the NY Times to waste space on discussion of ethnicity in a real estate piece diminishes us all. 

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