Organizing a Story

This comes from a Department of Justice press release.

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.

Using Facts to Make a Story

  1. About five young people jumped a 14-year-old boy in the Van Siclen Avenue A Train Station in East New York.
  2. It happened on March 14 a little before 4 p.m.
  3. One boy wearing a ski mask recorded it on a cell phone.
  4. The victim covered his face and head with his hands the video shows.
  5. They knocked the victim to the ground.
  6. He went home and then went to a doctor for medical treatment.
  7. No arrests have been made.

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.


What The Heck?

Barbara Nevins Taylor and Spring 2019 Introduction to Journalism Class at City Hall behind George Washington's desk at New York's City Hall

A Quick Tips for Covering Any Story

Whether you cover the opening of a food pantry, a fire that takes the lives of young children, a city council hearing, or a press conference in the Knicks locker room, you want to take a breath when you arrive at the scene.  Stop, look around and think about what is really going on.

Ask yourself:

  • What’s happening here?
  • What’s important?
  • What’s interesting?
  • How does this affect the people there?
  • How does it affect people in the broader community?
  • Is there something that people aren’t telling me?
  • How can I tell this story?

The best reporters analyze a situation quickly and sum up the essence. Once you understand what’s going on, you can think about a creative and interesting way to tell the story.


Capitalized and small a


In general, avoid unnecessary capitals. Use a capital letter only if you can justify it by one of the principles listed here.

Capitalize nouns for a specific person, place, or
thing.  That means names. These are considered proper nouns:
Alicia,  AmericaBoston,  Peru, England.
Capitalize the names of companies and the official names of organizations and schools:
The City College of New York,  Google, Apple, NBC 
Capitalize common nouns such as partyriverstreet and west when they are part of the full name for a person, place or thing:
Democratic PartyMississippi RiverFleet StreetWest Virginia.
Lowercase these common nouns when they stand alone in subsequent references: 
the partythe riverthe street.
Lowercase the common noun elements of names in plural uses: 
the Democratic and Republican parties, Main and State streets, lakes Erie and Ontario. Exception: plurals of formal titles with full names are capitalized: 
Presidents Joe Biden, Donald Trump, Barak Obama
Some places and events lack officially designated proper names but have popular names that give them the same states as a proper name:
the Upper West Side, the Upper East Side, Wall Street (referring to the financial district.) 
The principle applies also to shortened versions of the proper names of one-of-a-kind events: 
the Series (for the World Series)the Derby(for the Kentucky Derby).
This practice should not, however, be interpreted as a license to ignore the general practice of lowercasing the common noun elements of a name when they stand alone.
 Capitalize words that are derived from a proper noun and still depend on it for their meaning: AmericanChristianChristianityEnglishFrenchMarxismShakespearean.
Lowercase words that are derived from a proper noun but no longer depend on it for their meaning:
french fries, venetian blind, pasteurize 
Capitalize the first word in a statement that stands as a sentence.
In poetry, capital letters are used for the first words of some phrases that would not be capitalized in prose.
Capitalize the principal words in the names of books, movies, plays, poems, operas, songs, radio and television programs, works of art, etc:
Eternals, The Power of the Dog, Licorice Pizza, Dune, The Story of a Shipwrecked Sailor,  Still Got It, 
 Capitalize formal titles when used immediately before a name.
The City College of New York President Vincent Boudreau, New York City Mayor Eric Adams, 
Lowercase formal titles when used alone or in constructions that set them off from a name by commas.
Use lowercase at all times for terms that are job descriptions rather than formal titles.
Vincent Boudreau, the City College of New York president said,  Eric Adams, New York’s mayor said, 

Writing Ages

Use when deemed relevant to the situation. If someone is quoted as saying, “I’m too old to get another job,” the age is relevant.

Generally, use ages for profiles, obituaries, significant career milestones and achievements unusual for the age.

Use ages for people commenting or providing information only if their age is relevant to their comments (e.g., a teenager’s comment on video games aimed at that age group).

Appropriate background, such as a parent of two young children or a World War II veteran, may suffice instead of the actual age.

Always use figures. 

The girl is 15 years old.

The law is 8 years old.

The 101-year-old house.

When the context does not require years or years old, the figure is presumed to be years.

Use hyphens for ages expressed as adjectives before a noun or as substitutes for a noun.


A 5-year-old boy, but the boy is 5 years old.

The boy, 7, has a sister, 10.

The woman, 26, has a daughter 2 months old.

The race is for 3-year-olds. The woman is in her 30s (no apostrophe).


Do use a hyphen if it’s needed to make the meaning clear and avoid unintended meanings: 

small-business owner,

better-qualified candidate, little-known song,

French-speaking people,

free-thinking philosophy,

loose-knit group,

low-income workers,

never-published guidance,

self-driving car,

bases-loaded triple,

one-way street 

(Think of the different possible meanings or confusion if the hyphen is removed in each of those examples.)

Other two-word terms, particularly those used as nouns, have evolved to be commonly recognized as, in effect, one word. No hyphen is needed when such terms are used as modifiers if the meaning is clear and unambiguous without the hyphen.

Examples include:

 third grade teacher, chocolate chip cookie, special effects embellishment, climate change report, public land management, real estate transaction, emergency room visit, cat food bowl, parking lot entrance, national security briefing, computer software maker.

Hyphenate well- combinations before a noun, but not after: a well-known judge, but the judge is well known.

Generally, also use a hyphen in modifiers of three or more words: a know-it-all attitude, black-and-white photography, a sink-or-swim moment, a win-at-all-costs approach. Consider carefully, though, before deciding to use more than three modifiers.

No hyphen is needed to link a two-word phrase that includes the adverb very and all adverbs ending in -lya very good time, an easily remembered rule.

Many combinations that are hyphenated before a noun are not hyphenated when they occur after a noun: She works full time. She is well aware of the consequences. The children are soft spoken. The play is second rate. The calendar is up to date. (Guidance changed in 2019 to remove the rule that said to hyphenate following a form of the verb to be.)

Often, arguments for or against a hyphen could be made either way. Again, try to judge what is most clear and logical to the average reader. Also, consult Webster’s New World College Dictionary.

Using Quotes and Italics

magazine names 

Capitalize the initial letters of the name but do not place it in quotes. Lowercase magazine unless it is part of the publication’s formal title: Harper’s Magazine, Vice magazine, Vogue magazine. Check the masthead if in doubt.

newspaper names 

Capitalize the in a newspaper’s name if that is the way the publication prefers to be known. Do not place name in quotes.

The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, New York Daily News, New York Post

Lowercase the before newspaper names if a story mentions several papers, some of which use the as part of the name and some of which do not.

It is unnecessary to provide state identification for a newspaper cited in the body of a story if the newspaper is in the same state as the dateline.

For example, a story datelined Newport, R.I., would reference the Providence Journal, not the Providence (Rhode Island) Journal.

However, the state should be included and spelled out in the body of undated stories or stories datelined in other states.

Where location is needed but is not part of the official name, use parentheses: The Huntsville (Alabama) Times.

Resources for Stories

Look up building code violations

New York City Construction Accidents

Using an Attorney as a source,main%20factor%20behind%20this%20decline.


New York City Agencies

General Info


Kaye, Devora
Assistant Commissioner of External Affairs

General Info

Dwyer, Frank
Deputy Commissioner, Ext. Afrs and Public Info

General Info

Health & HospitalsMiller, Chris
Senior Director for Media Relations

Full List of Press Contacts


Migration Policy Institute

U.S. Department of Homeland Security

Center for Immigration Studies

The Myth of the Criminal Immigrant


Immigrant population

Change since 1980

Violent crime rate

Change since 1980

The Trump administration’s first year of immigration policy has relied on claims that immigrants bring crime into America. President Trump’s latest target is sanctuary cities.

Read more


Continue reading “Resources for Stories”

Stroll—And Eat—On An Italian Boulevard While In The Big Apple

by Gerald Eskenazi from Forbes

Looking Down Arthur Avenue
Old Italy? No–Little Italy

If you want to know what one of the most interesting neighborhoods in New York was like before the pandemic—-well, it’s back, and in these times, more important, more fun and more needed than ever.

There really is only one Little Italy these days, and it’s in the Bronx, in the area known as the Belmont Business Improvement District. To most of us, it’s simply Arthur Avenue, and if you’re a New Yorker, or are going to visit, this is a place for you along with the Statue of Liberty, the Empire State Building, and Times Square.

The somewhat-official launching of the return takes place Friday night, April 30, and continues until autumn unveils itself to New Yorkers.

It’s called, grandly and romantically, and with a nod to its Italian roots, Piazza di Belmont—the place for outdoor dining on Arthur Avenue. You don’t have to close your eyes to imagine you’re in Italy on a real piazza, a wide street you can stroll on without looking over your shoulder for a bicycle, car or truck. Look around and imagine an Italian town. You’ll soon be whistling Italian love songs, too.

The street becomes transformed as a piazza on Friday and Saturday nights from 6 to 10 P.M., and from 1 to 9 P.M. Sundays. This means that from East 188th Street to Crescent Avenue this swath on Arthur Avenue will be closed to vehicles. You can walk down the middle of the street, dine without being bothered by honking, hear the tinkle of wine glasses instead of the ring of a bicycle bell or any other vehicular noise.

Madonia Bakery Sample
 Sampling From Madonia Bakery

For Peter Madonia, chairman of the District, and purveyor of the tasty goodies from his eponymous bake shop, there is a deja vu aspect to what Arthur Avenue has done on the weekends:

“Many of the small businesses in Bronx Little Italy are owned and operated by the same families who founded them over a century ago – some of which have already been through the 1918 pandemic.”

During the day, the neighborhood will be the same—that is, the stores will be open for browsing, takeout, dining. This area looks and feels and sounds like the New York you first met in old movies, or television shows. It is a legitimate Little Italy in food—pizza the way it’s made in Naples; pasta from Italian semolina; food shops where a ton of slabs of pork hang from the ceiling; bakeries with 35 kinds of cookies.

If you’re a New Yorker, Arthur Avenue is, at most, a 30-minute drive by car. Little Italy in the Bronx has several parking options including metered spaces and a public parking lot at 2356 Hoffman Street. Also, anyone—New Yorker or visitor—can get to the Belmont neighborhood via Metro-North or the city’s subway via the D/B line.

 If you want to know more about the neighborhood, log on to If you’re interested in making specific reservations, well, this evocative names of restaurants are among the places you’ll want to go: Zero Otto Nove, Mario’s Restaurant, Enzo’s of Arthur Avenue, Estrellita Poblana III, Ann & Tony’sPasquale’s Rigoletto Restaurant,

And, as I once heard someone say in Rome, “Mangia!”

Gerald Eskenazi

I have had a rollicking 44-year ride as a reporter (sports) for The New York Times—that included 8,000 bylines, second-highest in the paper’s history. Along the way, I