The Real Deal New York

Editor’s note: Show me the money

TRD nabs five national awards by following the cash
By Stuart Elliott | July 01, 2012 07:00AM

Stuart Elliott, TRD's editor

Follow the money. The maxim, uttered by the source Deep Throat, is said to have originated in the screenplay for the film “All the President’s Men” about Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward’s reporting on Watergate for the Washington Post. Last month marked the 40th anniversary of the break-in that reshaped American politics and journalism.

While it might sound highfalutin, it’s also the guiding principle that helped us win more awards than any other publication in a national contest last month, recognizing the best in real estate journalism.

The National Association of Real Estate Editors (NAREE) named The Real Deal tops in five categories. (NAREE is the only association of writers, editors, columnists and freelancers that covers residential and commercial real estate; highly esteemed publications such as the Washington Post and Wall Street Journal also entered the competition.)

We won the prize for the Best Real Estate-Focused Website in the country, and, for the second year in a row, won top honors for the Best Commercial Real Estate Trade Magazine in the nation. We also won prizes for three stories we ran last year.

Senior reporter Adam Pincus won first place for the Best Commercial Real Estate Story by a Trade Magazine for his “Penciling out 737 Park,” about Harry Macklowe’s Upper East Side building purchase at that address. The story took an in-depth look at the costs (including the costs to displace current residents) behind the largest condo conversion in the city since the bust.

For her story, “Tumult at Nouvel Tower,” on allegations of corner-cutting at a glamorous (and high priced) residential tower designed by starchitect Jean Nouvel, deputy managing editor Candace Taylor won Best Residential Story by a Trade Magazine.

In the same category, Pincus took second place for his story “Reassessing REBNY,” which provided a first-ever look into the finances behind the powerful trade organization the Real Estate Board of New York.

(The Real Deal has won awards in the only two competitions it’s ever entered, so I guess we need to enter more.)

When it comes to Manhattan real estate, “follow the money” could not be more relevant. And it doesn’t only apply to investigative journalism.

You need to follow the money to understand how the city works generally. If you don’t understand how money works in New York City, you don’t understand New York City.

And, more importantly, if you don’t understand the visceral impulse that most in New York’s business world have to make money (for survival, greed, prestige or any other reason), you also don’t get one of the main engines that makes New York run.

While reporters aren’t primarily motivated by money themselves — usually — they are taught here (like at other reputable publications) to understand that impulse and to follow the money to find the story. By following that trail, we try to provide transparency to an industry that has little, and provide a level playing field in terms of information.

The strangest thing to me, especially as we near the presidential election, is the role politics plays in our lives compared to the role that money-making and capitalism plays.

If democracy and capitalism are supposed to be the twin pillars of the society we live in, most of us (except those who do work for the government) have little-to-no involvement with democracy in any meaningful way aside from maybe voting every few years. Think of the amount of time most people spend reading about politics or talking about it versus acting on it.

Much of our news is political sound bites and posturing, and much of what unfolds we have little participation in. Not that more of us shouldn’t be politically involved. But capitalism is actually what dominates most people’s workaday lives, which also makes following the money that much more important, from Watergate-level reporting down to the local economy to the apartment selling next door.

In this issue, we continue to follow the money. We track the rise in new developments occurring in the city, profile the nation’s largest mortgage lender and rank the top agents in Manhattan residential real estate by dollar volume of the properties they are listing, among other stories. Enjoy the issue!