Mayor Adams announces plans to bring community newspapers to Room 9

The mayor has criticized the City Hall press corps for being both disproportionately white and overly critical of his administration.

Mayor Eric Adams, flanked by First Deputy Mayor Sheena Wright and chief advisor Ingrid Lewis-Martin, speaks to the press on Dec. 19, 2023.

Mayor Eric Adams, flanked by First Deputy Mayor Sheena Wright and chief advisor Ingrid Lewis-Martin, speaks to the press on Dec. 19, 2023. Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office

As the New York City Police Department looks to proceed with its controversial plan to move reporters out of their offices inside police headquarters, changes could also be coming to Room 9 – the longstanding press room at City Hall.

During his weekly Tuesday press conference, Mayor Eric Adams said his administration will do an “analysis” early next year on how the space in City Hall is being used, in order to determine whether mainstream outlets that currently have multiple seats in Room 9 will need to give some up to make room for more ethnic and community media outlets.

The mayor made the announcement after being asked about the decision to relocate reporters from “the Shack” at One Police Plaza into a trailer. The move from police headquarters has prompted serious questions about transparency, as reporters have expressed concerns that they’ll lose access to key players in the NYPD. Some have even questioned whether the decision is punitive, given how Adams has complained about how crime has been covered. But on Tuesday, the mayor insisted that the move was due to a lack of space, pointing out that “the Shack” did not have room for ethnic and community media outlets.

“It wasn’t a lack of transparency – it was just the opposite,” he said. “We want more people to come in and cover. More people want to cover the police department and that is what we accomplish. It is an expansion (of transparency) if anything.”

After Adams spoke about his desire to bring community and ethnic media to the Shack, a reporter pointed out that community and ethnic media are not currently represented in Room 9 – and the mayor announced that he plans to change that. The mayor has long supported community and ethnic media outlets. As Brooklyn borough president, he helped push legislation that was passed in 2021 to create an office dedicated to strengthening the relationship between the city and ethnic and community outlets. Since taking office, Adams has spent a lot of time speaking with these outlets.

The city’s many ethnic and community media publications have been historically sidelined in accessing city government officials. Adams has emphasized he’s trying to reverse this, and his focus on community and ethnic media has helped him bypass the mainstream political press, which he has criticized as both disproportionately white (which is unfortunately true) and overly critical of him (which is…questionable). “We have been unfair to ethnic and community media in this city and we’ve treated them like second class citizens,” Adams said Tuesday. “It’s not going to continue in this administration.”

Still, many questions remain regarding the mayor’s attempts to increase the diversity of the City Hall press corps. There are plenty of community papers that have been tough on the mayor – sometimes even tougher than the mainstream press has been. Will the mayor invite those publications to City Hall or just stack Room 9 with reporters who have covered him favorably?