2001-08-11 / Columnists

From the G-Man by Gary G. Toms

Hey people! Over the last seven or eight months there have been a number of stories written by the daily newspapers concerning Far Rockaway and areas along the peninsula. They range from the tragic killing of Christ The King High School football superstar, Thomas Johnson, to the recent drowning of three young women off Beach 17 Street.

While these are indeed major news stories, a few reporters have taken certain liberties with bending the truth when providing accounts of what actually happened or whom they quoted, which was so eloquently noted in this week’s edition of "From The Editor’s Desk." I have a special message for them.

For all of the hot shots writing for papers like The Daily News, The Post, which may as well be The National Enquirer, Newsday, The New York Times and so on, allow me to introduce myself. They call me the G-man, and if you’ve never heard of me before, you will remember me after reading this.

I want all the editors and reporters of the aforementioned publications to do me a favor. I want you to start focusing on presenting positive stories about Rockaway instead of all the negative things that happen here.

I have lived in Rockaway for the last 27 years, and I do not recall many positive features being written about the area. Come to think of it, the only time you have ever ventured into Rockaway is to follow up on a crime story or cover a segment about our beaches. Hell, the local Pennysaver has more positive stories than what any of you have written.

If any of you took the time to examine the community, and the many heroes working within it, instead of chasing what you consider to be the next big story, you would find that there are some great stories from a cross-section of people in Rockaway.

That’s what the damn problem is with your publications. You’re so consumed with trying to find out things like how long Gary Condit was "sexing" Chandra Levy, you forget the true nature of journalism is to inform and empower the people. It’s not your fault, though. You can’t help being whores for tabloid stories. Community news is too boring for you, I guess, and that’s why excellent stories like the NYPD’s Explorer Program, or a local coach winning a national basketball title, never make it into your pages.

Your search for sensational stories, crime and degradation in particular, often lead you to Rockaway, but you never really speak to the residents, myself or my managing editor to get our assessment. If you have contacted us, which is extremely rare, you’ve never used any of our quotes! You call yourself reporters? You speak to one or two people and you’re out? Give me a break!

One moron from The New York Times wrote a piece where he was basically making fun of someone that could be considered the town drunk. I don’t care if it may have been tongue-in-cheek. There is nothing funny about a drunkard who recites John Dunne, but somehow this "writer" thought there was.

With all the positive stories that are woven into the tapestry of Rockaway, this is what he chose to write about? Hey pal, here’s a Golden Jackass ("Jacky") Award for you.

The piece also made it seem as though this is the type of person that resides in Rockaway, and that is truly insulting. He may have gotten a good laugh out of it, but the G-man did not crack a smile.

I don’t think I’m asking too much from you folks, and I’m sure many of the people of Rockaway would appreciate a positive piece every now and then. You know what I’m saying?

If you want to chase your little crime stories, or stories about the barren wasteland known as the Arverne Urban Renewal Area, that’s fine. However, I suggest that you strive to achieve a sense of balance when writing about a place that so many residents love and care about.

I want to extend an open invitation to you all. Come on down and kick back with Howie or me. We’ll talk, have a few laughs, pop open a few "brewskies" and discuss whether or not Alan Greenspan knows how to do the Mambo. Think about it.

See you next week!


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