Despite attacks on reporters and news organizations by some political leaders, the right to practice journalism is embedded in the United States Constitution. The law of our land highlights the importance of honest reporting about government and those in power to ensure that they are accountable to the people.

The digital revolution transformed the way we consume and deliver news, but the important principles of reporting remain the same. Every day, we see that journalism comes in many forms and appears on every platform from traditional print newspapers and magazines, to online sites that offer broad content or specialize in niche information, to social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat. Local TV news and network broadcasts continue to use traditional formats but increasingly are experimenting with social platforms. Podcasts and public radio have become go-to sources of information for millions.  And like a surprise in a stack of Russian dolls, you’ll also find carefully reported news stories within the noise of some cable TV “news” programs.

Serious journalists who work for serious news outlets continue to share the age-old principles of journalism. Whether we report about politics, events of the day, culture, sports or entertainment, we share the same goals. Our curiosity drives us. We carefully observe situations and people and record or make note of what we see. We analyze, synthesize and lay out the facts to provide information that allows people to make informed decisions.

At this challenging time in our country’s history, we need accurate reporting and talented journalists willing to dig deep, write, record, shoot, produce and give unbiased context to what happens in our communities, the nation and the world.  Here in New York and elsewhere, we need committed journalists willing to go into our neighborhoods and report at ground level about what’s going on now. That’s what you’ll do for your class assignments.


The First Amendment to the United States Constitution, part of the Bill of Rights, guarantees freedom of religion and speech, the press and the right of people to gather to protest and complain to the government.

In its own words:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people to freely assemble, and petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

After the founders of the United States wrote the U.S. Constitution, some of them realized they had left out critical guarantees to safeguard the type of nation, free of tyranny, they and others wanted.

The newly minted senators and congressmen debated about whether “checks and balances” would protect the rights of the people, or whether they needed to write amendments to the Constitution.

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Ethics in Journalism

What is ethics? Merriam Webster Definition of ethic 1 ethics plural in form but singular or plural in construction: the discipline dealing with what is good and bad and with moral duty and obligation 2 a: a set of moral principles : a theory or system of moral values Every good news organization has a handbook with a written policy or …


Assignment Given: April 27, 2023

Due: Wednesday, May 3 at 5 p.m.

Introduction to Journalism class at New York City Hall
Introduction to Journalism class, spring 2023, at New York City Hall.

Covering the City Council Races Who is running?

Here is basic information about the election in June and why City Council members elected for four years have to run again after only two years: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2023_New_York_City_Council_election

Ask voters, at least three and preferably six questions, about the issue that you chose and the candidate.

If you plan to report about crime, you need crime statistics. They are on the NYPD CompStat site and you have to put in your borough and your precinct in the top right hand corner. 

  1. What are the issues? You can pick one issue. For example: the lack of bike lanes on Fordham Road.
  2. Does the incumbent seem like they are threatened?
  3. Try to get an interview with the candidates. If you can not get interviews,  review the record of the candidate, or city council member and interview people in your neighborhood or community about the race and find out what they want from a council person.
  4.  Here’s the list of the City Council members https://council.nyc.gov/districts  If you click on the names, the individual pages will come up.

A few questions:

  1. What inspired you to run?
  2. What do you want to accomplish?
  3. What more do you want to accomplish?
  4. What are the priorities?
  5. What changes do you want to see in the community.

Email to ask for an interview.

On the staff list for each council person you will find a communications director.  Style the email like this:


Subject line: Media Inquiry on deadline

Dear Ms. Rivas,

I am a constituent and live on xxxx Street. I am writing a story for Harlem View about the City Council races. I would like to do an interview with Council Member xxxx about the rising retail rents forcing small business out.  (Or whatever your issue is)  If she can not meet with me can I get answers to a couple of questions?

(Be sure to link to Harlem View.)

List the questions. Make them simple.

Thank you very much for your time.



Harlem View

and your phone number







Assignment Given March 30

  1. April 20th class will meet at City Hall at 1:45 for a 2 p.m. tour.
  • There is construction taking place on the front steps of City Hall and it may be a bit noisy.
  • The easiest way to get access to CH during construction is via the East entrance, located on Park Row, just north of Spruce street.  This is almost opposite the Brooklyn Bridge entrance.

The tour will be led by Chief Sergeant-At-Arms Rafael Perez. He is the person responsible for protocol at the city council.

After the tour, Harlem City Council Member Shaun Abreu will meet with the class.

A man in glasses and a gray suit poses for a photo in front of a fountain.
Shaun Abreu, the city councilman who introduced the bill, said people treated him differently after he gained 40 pounds.Credit…Brittainy Newman for The New York Times
A man in glasses and a gray suit poses for a photo in front of a fountain.

The headline on a story last week wasted no words: You can be fired for being overweight. The story said you might not even get hired: Victoria Abraham, who graduated from New York University last year and is a self-described fat activist, said she wondered if her size would affect her job hunt.

There’s momentum to treat weight discrimination the way other forms of discrimination are treated. The City Council is expected to approve a bill that would ban weight discrimination in hiring, housing and access to public accommodations. The bill has the support of a majority of the Council, with 34 of its 51 members co-sponsoring it, and could be approved as soon as next month. 

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Find out who your city council member is and who is running against them. There is a primary June 27, 2023. New York votes primarily choose Democrats and that’s why the primary is important. The general election is  November 7. 

But you will report about the primary race, or the candidates, in your district. 

Here are sources that can help you find out who is running in your district:




Assignment Due: April 18 at 5 p.m.

After you find out who your candidates are, please write down your district and the candidates and submit them here: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/1XhB5pivzh8UQAMcori4zBCpJouaZWzlH?usp=share_link

Deadline: Tuesday, April 18th at 5 p.m.


What voters should know about 2023 elections in NYC


For Class on March 30, but due on March 29 at 2:00 p.m.  Please read: 

  • Upload your best single journalistic photo (Due on March 29 at 2:00 pm)
    • Choose any one photograph you have ever taken on or before the date of March 29, 2023
    • Avoid sunsets, breathtaking landscapes, etc, unless they have at least a sliver of news value happening within them (people, events, consequence – traffic is fine). 
    • May be a staged portrait of a person – but must be in a real environment and not shot in a studio or somehow altered reality (your cousin smiling in the park is fine)
    • Name the photo LNAME_SLUG_1
    • Upload the photo to: 2023S_BNT_CLASS PHOTOS


Date: March 30, 2023


2:00 PM – 2:20 PM

Teach Basic Principles of composition, with slide show


2:20 – 2:45 PM

Review photos submitted by students according to what we’ve learned about composition


2:45 – 3:00 PM

Review ethics and safety principles of capturing journalistic photography

Explain laws vs. practical street smarts. Rights, obligations, and courtesies. 


3:00 PM – 4:00 PM

Students shoot anything they like in the neighborhood, applying the principles of fill the frame, control the background, wait for moments. No taking portraits of one another, but portraits of anybody outside the class are welcome. 

Russ will do the assignment too, and students can ask questions in the field.


4:00 PM – 5:00 PM

Review photography




For Tuesday, March 21 at 5 p.m.

On Thursday, we have a speaker, a student from another campus, who does fact checking training https://www.poynter.org/mediawise/ So I hope that everyone will be in class and be on time.

1. This is a last call for your stories and your edits. Some of you have done excellent work so far and I appreciate that. Please submit everything by 5 p.m. on Tuesday, March 21. Those of you who haven’t submitted anything,you know who you are. 

   a. You might start by writing a pitch, which help you see if you have a story https://ccnyintroductiontojournalism.com/?s=how+to+write+a+pitch+

   b. I want to be fair to everyone, but you have to do the work.

2. We are going to have a quiz-test on Thursday. It will cover what we have gone over so far. 

   a. Principles of active voice: https://ccnyintroductiontojournalism.com/2023/03/01/how-we-write-2/

   b. Reporting basics: https://ccnyintroductiontojournalism.com/2023/01/25/reporting-basics-2/

   c. Nut graf https://wp.me/p91bTf-Gg