Writing Exercise


How would you reorganize this story and put it in the active voice?

Facing a labor shortage and stagnant wages, home health aides in Queens and throughout New York are expected to see a boost in pay after a wage increase and bonus payments were worked into the recently passed state budget.

The final budget, which passed on April 9, over a week after it was due, includes a plan to increase wages for home care workers by $3 per hour over a two-year period. Home health aides, in addition to all frontline health workers, will also receive a one-time bonus of up to $3,000, the budget stipulates.

But advocates and lawmakers who fought to include a bill, which would have increased the minimum wage for homecare workers by 150 percent, in the budget, say they’re disappointed with the final result. They claim the changes don’t do enough to bring more workers into the industry or support a living wage, and that the increase may instead drive people out of the profession.

“I was deeply disappointed,” said Queens Assemblymember Jessica Gonzalez-Rojas. “Ultimately, what we got in this budget was a measly wage increase, and unfortunately, it doesn’t address the problem that we’re trying to solve – that New York has the largest workforce shortage in the country.”

Beginning in October 2022, home care workers will see their pay increase by $2, according to the budget. They’ll get an additional $1 increase in October 2023. On average, home care aides currently make around $13.20 an hour.

The new wage increase comes out to about a $7 billion increase in wages for home care aides throughout the state.

The bonuses worked into the budget will vary from worker to worker. The bonuses will be calculated by the state’s health commissioner, and the final payment will depend on the hours worked per week during a time frame yet-to-be-determined by the commissioner.

Frontline health workers who worked an average of between 20 and 30 hours per week over the time period will receive a $500 bonus. Those who worked between 30 and 35 hours per week will receive a $1,000 bonus. Health care workers who worked at least 35 hours per week will receive a $1,500 bonus.

Though health care workers who worked for multiple employers can claim multiple bonuses, their total cannot exceed $3,000.

Advocates say that the payments in the budget pale in comparison to those worked into the State Legislature’s proposed budget, which included the Fair Pay for Home Care Workers bill. The legislation would direct the state’s Department of Health commissioner to set regional rates of reimbursement for home care aids under Medicaid and other managed care plans. It would also mandate a 150 percent pay increase for health aides.

How would you reorganize this storyhttps://www.cityandstateny.com/politics/2022/04/courts-tossed-new-district-maps-now-what/366217/

he long redistricting saga in New York will only continue, as the Court of Appeals upheld a lower court ruling that deemed newly drawn state Senate and congressional maps unconstitutional. The decision immediately rocked the state’s political world, but it will have massive impacts on the average voter as well as New Yorkers will find themselves in new districts (again) and will need to keep track of changing primary dates. 

In a 4-3 decision, New York’s highest court concluded that the state Legislature did not have the constitutional authority to draw the maps at all – independent of the gerrymandering question – so it tossed state Senate and congressional lines on procedural grounds. But the Assembly map will stay in place because it was never named in the lawsuit, so the court can’t make any decision about it despite its view that lawmakers had no right to draw it. So now, an independent expert will help redraw two out of the three new sets of legislative lines for elections this year.


Court of Appeals throws out New York redistricting maps

If redrawing the maps for a June 28 primary date sounds impossible, that’s because it is. As part of its decision, the Court of Appeals said that the primary elections for state Senate and Congress will be delayed, likely until sometime in August, but left the details for the state Board of Elections to ultimately determine. But every other primary – for Assembly, U.S. Senate, governor and lieutenant governor and lower level offices such as district leader – is still expected to take place on the originally scheduled June date. That means New York will briefly return to its old model of bifurcated primary elections, a practice the state only recently abolished when it consolidated congressional and state primaries in 2019. Previously, primaries for state office occurred in September, while those for Congress took place in June. “The court’s right that the state had a bifurcated process in the past, but that stunk,” said Blair Horner, executive director of the government watchdog New York Public Interest Research Group. “The good news is we’ll get better lines, the bad news is that it’s going to be painful to keep track of what’s going on.”

And don’t expect a push from the state Legislature and the governor to move primary day and consolidate the elections. There could be legal challenges, and it probably wouldn’t be helpful for the governor, who is facing primary challenges from the left and the right, or Assembly members. “Incumbents want less time. They want a nice short campaign,” said a former state legislator who asked for anonymity to discuss former colleagues . “They start out with the name recognition and the money.” It would be logical to simply combine the primaries, the source conceded, “but logic doesn’t always hold in Albany.”


NYPD Crime Statistics

NYPD Announces Citywide Crime Statistics for February 2022


March 3, 2022

For the month of February 2022, New York City saw a 58.7% increase in overall index crime compared to February 2021 (9,138 v. 5,759). Every major index crime category saw an increase for the month of February 2022. Robbery increased by 56% (1,276 v. 818), grand larceny increased by 79.2% (3,762 v. 2.099), and grand larceny auto increased by 104.7% (1,083 v. 529). Citywide shooting incidents decreased by 1.3% (76 v. 77) in February 2022 compared to the same period last year.

The New York City Police Department remains focused on the drivers of crime and disorder in New York City, and the department will never waver in its core mission to protect all the people it serves. Every day, in every New York City neighborhood, the NYPD is working to identify and investigate the relatively small number of people who are responsible for the majority of the criminal activity – and it is employing every resource to ensure that these offenders are held accountable.

To that end, the new Neighborhood Safety Teams will further enhance the NYPD’s efforts to stop the proliferation of illegal guns, stifle gang activity, and suppress the violence caused by these unlawful actions. The deployment of these specially trained officers and supervisors will augment the ongoing work of patrolling the city’s streets, subways, and public housing developments, 24-hours per day. Nearly nine million New Yorkers depend on the NYPD and its local, state, and federal law enforcement partners to keep them safe – and every member of the police department is fully committed to this critical work.

“The men and women of the New York City Police Department are proactively addressing the deep-rooted causes of criminal behavior,” said Police Commissioner Keechant L. Sewell. “The NYPD will never relent, and the department has made far too much progress over the decades – and invested far too much in the communities it serves – to fall back by any measure. New Yorkers deserve better.”


Jimmy Breslin’s Grave Digger Story

‘It’s An Honor’

New York Herald Tribune, November 1963

By Jimmy Breslin

WASHINGTON — Clifton Pollard was pretty sure he was going to be working on Sunday, so when he woke up at 9 a.m., in his three-room apartment on Corcoran Street, he put on khaki overalls before going into the kitchen for breakfast. His wife, Hettie, made bacon and eggs for him. Pollard was in the middle of eating them when he received the phone call he had been expecting. It was from Mazo Kawalchik, who is the foreman of the gravediggers at Arlington National Cemetery, which is where Pollard works for a living. “Polly, could you please be here by 11 o’clock this morning?” Kawalchik asked. “I guess you know what it’s for.” Pollard did. He hung up the phone, finished breakfast, and left his apartment so he could spend Sunday digging a grave for John Fitzgerald Kennedy.

When Pollard got to the row of yellow wooden garages where the cemetery equipment is stored, Kawalchik and John Metzler, the cemetery superintendent, were waiting for him. “Sorry to pull you out like this on a Sunday,” Metzler said. “Oh, don’t say that,” Pollard said. “Why, it’s an honor for me to be here.” Pollard got behind the wheel of a machine called a reverse hoe. Gravedigging is not done with men and shovels at Arlington. The reverse hoe is a green machine with a yellow bucket that scoops the earth toward the operator, not away from it as a crane does. At the bottom of the hill in front of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Pollard started the digging (Editor Note: At the bottom of the hill in front of the Custis-Lee Mansion).

Leaves covered the grass. When the yellow teeth of the reverse hoe first bit into the ground, the leaves made a threshing sound which could be heard above the motor of the machine. When the bucket came up with its first scoop of dirt, Metzler, the cemetery superintendent, walked over and looked at it. “That’s nice soil,” Metzler said. “I’d like to save a little of it,” Pollard said. “The machine made some tracks in the grass over here and I’d like to sort of fill them in and get some good grass growing there, I’d like to have everything, you know, nice.”

James Winners, another gravedigger, nodded. He said he would fill a couple of carts with this extra-good soil and take it back to the garage and grow good turf on it. “He was a good man,” Pollard said. “Yes, he was,” Metzler said. “Now they’re going to come and put him right here in this grave I’m making up,” Pollard said. “You know, it’s an honor just for me to do this.”

Pollard is 42. He is a slim man with a mustache who was born in Pittsburgh and served as a private in the 352nd Engineers battalion in Burma in World War II. He is an equipment operator, grade 10, which means he gets $3.01 an hour. One of the last to serve John Fitzgerald Kennedy, who was the 35th president of this country, was a working man who earns $3.01 an hour and said it was an honor to dig the grave.

Yesterday morning, at 11:15, Jacqueline Kennedy started toward the grave. She came out from under the north portico of the White House and slowly followed the body of her husband, which was in a flag-covered coffin that was strapped with two black leather belts to a black caisson that had polished brass axles. She walked straight and her head was high. She walked down the bluestone and blacktop driveway and through shadows thrown by the branches of seven leafless oak trees. She walked slowly past the sailors who held up flags of the states of this country. She walked past silent people who strained to see her and then, seeing her, dropped their heads and put their hands over their eyes. She walked out the northwest gate and into the middle of Pennsylvania Avenue. She walked with tight steps and her head was high and she followed the body of her murdered husband through the streets of Washington.

Everybody watched her while she walked. She is the mother of two fatherless children and she was walking into the history of this country because she was showing everybody who felt old and helpless and without hope that she had this terrible strength that everybody needed so badly. Even though they had killed her husband and his blood ran onto her lap while he died, she could walk through the streets and to his grave and help us all while she walked.

There was Mass, and then the procession to Arlington. When she came up to the grave at the cemetery, the casket already was in place. It was set between brass railings and it was ready to be lowered into the ground. This must be the worst time of all, when a woman sees the coffin with her husband inside and it is in place to be buried under the earth. Now she knows that it is forever. Now there is nothing. There is no casket to kiss or hold with your hands. Nothing material to cling to. But she walked up to the burial area and stood in front of a row of six green-covered chairs and she started to sit down, but then she got up quickly and stood straight because she was not going to sit down until the man directing the funeral told her what seat he wanted her to take.

The ceremonies began, with jet planes roaring overhead and leaves falling from the sky. On this hill behind the coffin, people prayed aloud. They were cameramen and writers and soldiers and Secret Service men and they were saying prayers out loud and choking. In front of the grave, Lyndon Johnson kept his head turned to his right. He is president and he had to remain composed. It was better that he did not look at the casket and grave of John Fitzgerald Kennedy too often. Then it was over and black limousines rushed under the cemetery trees and out onto the boulevard toward the White House. “What time is it?” a man standing on the hill was asked. He looked at his watch. “Twenty minutes past three,” he said.

Clifton Pollard wasn’t at the funeral. He was over behind the hill, digging graves for $3.01 an hour in another section of the cemetery. He didn’t know who the graves were for. He was just digging them and then covering them with boards. “They’ll be used,” he said. “We just don’t know when. I tried to go over to see the grave,” he said. “But it was so crowded a soldier told me I couldn’t get through. So I just stayed here and worked, sir. But I’ll get over there later a little bit. Just sort of look around and see how it is, you know. Like I told you, it’s an honor.”

Organizing a Story

This comes from a Department of Justice press release.https://www.justice.gov/usao-sdny/pr/ten-oed-gang-members-charged-narcotics-conspiracy

The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) said on Wednesday that it broke up a gang that dealt drugs. A criminal complaint accused them of participating in a conspiracy to traffic narcotics.  Six of the defendants also were charged with using guns in furtherance of that conspiracy.

JERRIN PENA, 20, ARIEL OLIVER, 22, JUSTIN DEAZA, 20, WILSON MENDEZ, 19, JOWENKY NUNEZ, 19, BRIAN HERNANDEZ, 22, VICTOR COLON, 24, JOSE GUTIERREZ, 20, ARGENIS TAVAREZ, 22, and NIJMAH MARTE, 21, all from New York City, are each charged with conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute 400 grams and more of fentanyl, in violation of Title 21, United States Code, Section 846, which carries a mandatory minimum sentence of ten years in prison and a maximum sentence of life in prison.  The defendants are also charged with conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute heroin, cocaine, crack cocaine, oxycodone, in violation of Title 21, United States Code, Section 846, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years, and conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute marijuana, also in violation of Title 21, United States Code, Section 846, which carries a maximum sentence of five years.

Between in or about 2019 and in or about 2022, the defendants sold fentanyl, heroin, cocaine, crack cocaine, oxycodone, and marijuana in and around the Washington Heights neighborhood of Manhattan.  The defendants sold drugs to, among others, undercover police officers, and were frequently arrested in possession of drugs packaged for resale.

In addition, PENA, MENDEZ, NUNEZ, HERNANDEZ, COLON, and MARTE each possessed firearms in connection with their drug dealing, and PENA, OLIVER, and NUNEZ regularly posted social media photographs and videos of themselves holding firearms.

On February 24, 2022, DEAZA was arrested in possession of one kilogram of fentanyl.

PENA, MENDEZ, COLON, GUTIERREZ, and MARTE were arrested in Manhattan New York and the Bronx.

U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said:  “As alleged, these defendants were members of a gang that distributed many types of illegal narcotics in a Manhattan neighborhood for years.  Several of the defendants frequently carried firearms while dealing drugs. 

DEA Acting Special Agent-in-Charge Timothy Foley said:  “The Own Every Dollar gang used social media to glamorize their drug enterprise, conduct drug transactions and brandish weapons instilling fear in the community.  Our drug trafficking investigations have a way of uncovering links to the threat of gun violence and gang-related criminal activity.  Today’s arrests exemplify law enforcement’s commitment to law and order and people’s right to live without fear.

Today’s arrests are part of our continued commitment, along with our law enforcement partners, to target narcotics trafficking and firearms use in New York City.” 

The alleged gang members appeared before be presented today before the Hon. Barbara Moses, United States Magistrate Judge for the Southern District of New York.  OLIVER, DEAZA, and HERNANDEZ were already in state custody.  NUNEZ and TAVAREZ remain at large.


Ethics in Journalism

Shot of hands with a Phone and news spelled out in the center over a globe and a newspaper

What is ethics?

Merriam Webster

Definition of ethic

1 ethics plural in form but singular or plural in constructionthe 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 guidelines that spell out the way they want journalists to act while gathering and reporting the news. Managers, editors, producers, reporters, photographers and anyone who works in serious journalism takes these guidelines to heart and tries to follow them.

While there may be some corporate deviation, standards remain pretty much the same from one organization to another.


The First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America says:

The Bill of Rights


“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.”

So we have a mandate to report and cover the news and how we do it is critically important.

We have basic values.

We tell the truth.

We remain independent and as objective as humanly possible.

We report fairly giving all sides of a story and giving multiple viewpoints of a story when possible.

We work to present a rounded picture of what we are reporting with context.

We are accountable. We report what we know and stand behind our work and correct errors.


Journalists serve the public

The New York Times puts its guidelines online

Other news organizations do the same. For example:

The Daily Beast


The foundation of journalism ethics is simple.

This list reflects the Code of Ethics created by the Society for Professional Journalists.

1. Report fairly and accurately

a. To do that you need to make sure that you verify what people tell you.

How do you do that? By finding more than one source for the information.

2. Avoid conflicts of interest. If you do have an interest in the story you want to disclose it upfront.

3. Do not take gifts, favors, free travel or other perks that could compromise your reporting.

4. Distinguish news from advertising or native content.

4. Update your story to make sure that it is accurate. Things change.

5. Be careful about making promises to people you interview.

6. Identify your sources clearly.

7. Consider your sources’ motives. Why are they talking to you? What is their bias?

8. Be careful about granting someone anonymity. An anonymous source may have a

motive to stay hidden that could undermine the truthfulness of the story. If you use

an anonymous source, explain why.

9. Make every effort to get both sides of a story. Make sure if people are accused of something that you give them every opportunity to respond. This may take extra work.

10. Use undercover reporting only when you must and then explain why you chose to do it.

11. Hold the powerful accountable.

12. Give voice to the powerless.

13. Avoid stereotyping.

14. Label advocacy and commentary.

15. Do not distort information including visual presentations. Make sure that you label re-enactments clearly.

16. Never plagiarize.

17 . Always attribute.

18. Be accountable and transparent.

a. Correct mistakes quickly.

b. Respond to criticism.

c. Explain your ethical choices.