Class Agenda


Draft of story #2 due next Wednesday, April 5.

Final draft of story #2 due April 19 (the first day back from break), along with your pitches for your final project.

Final project assignment: Same general idea as your first two stories: non-medium-specific story within your beat (if written, it should be about 800 words; if photo, somewhere between 12-20 photos with strong, multi-sentence captions; if video, it should be an edited two- to three-minute project; if radio, it should be roughly a three- to four-minute narrated story) except that there should be one additional multimedia element.

This means that, like with your first two stories, there should be at least one photo, but there should also be some kind of audio or video component to go along with it. This isn’t a multimedia class so these additional elements don’t need to be the kind of elaborate or ambitious audio/video pieces that could be a standalone story; they just need to complement your story. It could be a simple 30- or 60-second clip of one of your sources talking, for instance—maybe going into more detail about something you touched on in your story.

Friday UN trip – please confirm!

Yahkiney Lynch
Candice McLeggan

Megan Guard

Amberley Canegitta

Ruonan Zheng

Anna Poslusny

Gabby Tjahyadukarta

Rebecca Simon

Tafannum Rahman

Maria Markowicz

Dylan Diaz

Junior Martinez

Peter Rodriguez

UN assignment

Write a short blog post for the class site by class time on Monday. Pick one of the topics the spokesman decided to weigh in on today and do a bit of research into the backstory. Sum up the situation in two or three brief paragraphs and include links to two or three stories that have been published about it. Tell me, according to your best news judgment, whether the spokesman’s comments were newsworthy enough to quote in a story if you were covering it yourself. Why or why not?

Full texts of briefings can be found here:

If you do not come to one of the briefings, your assignment is similar except that instead of a short blog post, I want you to actually write a 400-word breaking news story on one of the topics that is covered in a briefing this week, quoting the spokesman as well as two or three other official or high-profile sources. (Twitter is a good source for this—you can even embed Twitter posts in your story, write it as a sort of timeline where you aggregate posts as the story develops.)

Using Twitter as a journalist: Great for breaking stories and finding sources, although you have to be really careful to do your due diligence. Also these days a great way to raise your profile/brand, especially if you’re a freelancer. And finally, a way to get the news out directly in a different medium, like Rukmini Callimachi. Be careful—because you can definitely expose yourself to criticism!

A recent great example of “international” reporting in NYC:

President Park Geun-Hye Impeach Scandal Pitch

Park Geun-Hye was South Korea’s first female President whom many people had great hopes for because of that reason. However, last year it was found out she had been taking bribes from big companies like Samsung and letting her best friend, Choi Soon-Il, have high government clerance and use company money that was given to the President to benefit her own benefit.

She was finaly impeached last week by the federal court, and the heir of Samsung was arrested, showing the people that coorporations that make such a big part of the country’s economy are no longer safe from justice as they have been in past scandals.

I wanted to do a kind of timeline that would take the whole scandal and explain it beginning to end. I want it to be for someone who has never heard of it, or has very little knowledge of it. Initially I wanted to gear this towards the youth that might want a connection to their country but find it too hard to follow newspapers and often get lost in the many articles there is of the scandals. However, I think I want to do a simple timeline, written, but with graphics obviously.

My main source who is a well educated man who grew up in Korea and studied in Europe reccently emailed me back telling me he finished his phD so he’ll be my main source for opinions and explanations of what happened and what the attitude of the people has been throughout the scandal. I’m also hoping to talk to a student or someone younger to get that Korean-American view as opposed to a more educaed Korean view.

Oh, Canada! (Country Change; Proposal Memo #2)

No, Canada is not another state. Located in the northern region of North of America, the country borders itself with the United States and is home to 35 million inhabitants. English and French are the two dominant languages, particularly in vastly populated urban areas: Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver.

With recent headlines surrounding an attack on a mosque and the recent arrest of a dual citizen to have been part of the alleged Russian hacking of the 2016 U.S. presidential election, the country has emerged as a hot topic of sorts when it comes to extradition, emigration, and how the U.S. financial shift will affect the nation.

I’m looking to delve deeper into what makes Canada stand out as a country that provides universal healthcare to its citizens, still has close ties to its British mother, but remains as politically independent as any nation can be.

Ranked 18th on the 2016 list of World Press Freedoms, the country’s journalists enjoy more freedom than that of the United States, which is ranked 41st.

Class Agenda – Monday March 20


New dates: Tuesday the 28th and Friday the 31st. From start to finish the time commitment should be from 11:15 to about 1:15—however, if you need to leave a little early, we can let them know and they’ll have someone walk you out.

We’ll meet at the entrance (46th Street and 1st Avenue) at 11:15. Be ready to go through security at 11:30. BRING YOUR IDs.

The noon briefing will finish around 12:45 and the Q&A section where they take questions from reporters will go for about 30 minutes.

So for next week, we will not have class on Monday (this trip is taking its place) but we WILL have class on Wednesday.

Intro to the United Nations

It was established after WWII to prevent something like that from ever happening again. How successful has the UN been in that mission?

That’s debatable.

Members include nearly every nation in the world: 193 out of 196 (or 195 depending on whether you count Taiwan). When it was founded, they wrote the UN charter (sort of like its constitution) and a universal declaration of human rights.

The United Nations is made up of a number of main bodies:

General Assembly: This is the chief policymaking branch, and it plays a significant role in codification of international law. It’s the deliberative body of the UN, in which all member states have one vote. Issues on which the General Assembly deliberates and makes recommendations include matters of peace and security, budgetary matters, and nearly anything else within the scope of the UN Charter. Major questions require a two-thirds majority, and minor questions are resolved by a simple majority. It meets to go into session every year in the fall.

Security Council: This department is charged with maintaining international peace and security. Its main functions include hearing complaints, recommending peaceful solutions, and working to end conflict in areas where hostilities have already erupted through such means as cease-fire directives and UN peacekeeping forces. It is in charge of sending “peacekeepers,” also known as blue helmets, who are only supposed to use force in self-defense and who have been known to cause some problems of their own.

The permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, also known as the Permanent Five, Big Five, or P5, include the following five governments: China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The members represent the five great powers considered the victors of World War II. They’re the only ones with veto power, which ruffles some feathers.

Economic and Social Council: This body discusses international economic and social issues, identifies issues hindering the standard of living in various regions of the world, and makes policy recommendations to alleviate those issues.

International Court of Justice: Located in The Hague, the ICJ is the judicial body of the UN. It includes 15 elected judges and settles cases according to International Law.

Secretariat: This body is the administrative branch of the UN and is charged with administering the policies and programs of the other bodies. The Secretary General is the top official in the Secretariat. The current secretary-general is António Guterres, a Portuguese diplomat who was previously the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees between 2005 and 2015.

Aside from the main bodies, the UN has 15 specialized agencies. These are autonomous organizations working with the UN and each other and governments through the Economic and Social Council as well as at the inter-secretariat level.

These agencies include:





The World Bank


The rest can be found here.

Covering the UN as a journalist

As an international journalist, it’s good to be familiar with how the UN works for a number of reasons. Its affiliated agencies are often extremely helpful for journalists, especially freelancers, but you have to be very careful about how accepting assistance from these agencies could affect your objectivity as a journalist.

Aside from that, the UN itself can be a bountiful source of stories, and it’s good to examine it with a critical eye to hold it to account. No matter how noble its mission, it is a massive bureaucratic entity run by fallible people. It’s prone to corruption and is known for fostering a culture of impunity as well as mismanaging funds. (The UN has a LOT of money—member states pay dues—and wherever large amounts of money can be found, you can always find people being tempted to do bad things. Good rule of thumb for any humanitarian crisis situation: follow the money.)

I Love the U.N., But It Is Failing

“Six years ago, I became an assistant secretary general, posted to the headquarters in New York. I was no stranger to red tape, but I was unprepared for the blur of Orwellian admonitions and Carrollian logic that govern the place. If you locked a team of evil geniuses in a laboratory, they could not design a bureaucracy so maddeningly complex, requiring so much effort but in the end incapable of delivering the intended result. The system is a black hole into which disappear countless tax dollars and human aspirations, never to be seen again.”

The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are eight international development goals for the year 2015 that were established by the United Nations in 2000. All 189 United Nations member states at that time, and at least 22 international organizations, committed to help achieve the following Millennium Development Goals by 2015:

  1. To eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
  2. To achieve universal primary education
  3. To promote gender equality and empower women
  4. To reduce child mortality
  5. To improve maternal health
  6. To combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases
  7. To ensure environmental sustainability
  8. To develop a global partnership for development

The MDGs have since been replaced by the Sustainable Development Goals. This sort of thing can provide excellent news pegs.


The UN used to have its own news agency, IRIN, but in 2015 IRIN split off to become its own nonprofit entity devoted to covering humanitarian news:


Not to be confused with UN agencies, there are also a number of high-profile nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) out there doing similar kinds of work with similar aims, but they’re not affiliated with the UN. These also merit scrutiny. Aid business is good business.

A few of the most well-known of these include:



World Vision

Partners in Health

Save the Children

The Red Cross

The Central Asia Institute


Bodega Shutdown

           The election of Donald J. Trump as the 45th President of the United States has left a sizable amount of the population feeling concerned about what the next four to eight years would have in store for them. One such group is the Muslim American community, which faced ever increasing stigmatization in the years after the September 11th attacks. Both the campaign and subsequent election of Trump have increased incidents of bias against Muslims. But the apex of this occurred shortly after he took office.


           In a controversial move, President Trump signed Executive Order 13769 into law. The order reduced the number of refugees that were allowed into the United States, suspended the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program for four months, and indefinitely barred entry for Syrian refugees. But the area of the order that attracted the most attention was a complete ban on immigration from countries that Homeland Security deemed as a threat to U.S. safety. In addition to Syria, these countries are identified as Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen.


         Enforcement of the new law began almost immediately by border officials. Reports soon came in about people from the aforementioned countries were barred from flights to the U.S, regardless of whether or not they had valid visas, to Muslim travellers that were just arriving to the U.S., only find themselves detained in the airport immediately after stepping off. In response, several states took the order to court and many of them blocked it. But it paled compared to the protests that followed in cities across the country.


         In various international airports across the country, including New York’s JFK Airport, lengthy protests were staged, calling for both an immediate repeal of the band and the release of detained passengers. But after protesting at the airports, some decided to take it even further and show New Yorkers what life could be like without Muslims.


          On February 1st, delis and bodegas across the city, many of which are owned by Yemeni immigrants, closed down for eight hours in protest for the executive order. During the shutdown, a massive rally was held in front of Brooklyn’s Borough Hall for the rest of the evening. According to organizer Debbie Almontaser, a thousand businesses were involved in the shut down, with several other restaurants and stores participating out of support. “They are part of the American fabric through the service they offer day in and day out for their communities.” A lot of store owners hung signs on their doors urging their regular customers to join them at the rally and show support for the Muslim community. Others added more personal signs to their doors. One such bodega had a sign that simply said, “Closed. My family is detained at JFK” At Brooklyn’s Borough Hall, thousands of Yemeni-Americans gathered to voice their concerns about the travel ban. As one bodega owner explained, “This order goes against everything we came here for and everything America stands for.” The protest has also gained support from figures like Mayor DeBlasio and Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams. By the end of the event, the Muslim community staged one of the most successful anti-Trump rallies after the inauguration. “This is the first time that the Yemeni-American community has come out in such numbers on an issue that has affected them.”, as Almontaser explains.

J.K. Deli & Grocery in Flushing, Queens. One of a thousand bodegas to participate in the day long shutdown on February 1

        One such bodega that participated was the J.K. Deli And Grocery in Flushing, Queens. The store’s owner, Ali Mazumder, moved the U.S. in 1987 and has been operating the deli since the early 90s. “While thankfully nobody that I know was detained at JFK, I still felt that what Trump was doing wasn’t right and that he needed to get a loud and clear enough message from Muslims that he was doing more harm than good.”

        While he was grateful by how customers were understanding towards him participating in the shutdown, Mazumder wishes that it didn’t have to come to a boycott. After spending years in the country and gradually establishing himself amongst the neighborhood with the store, Mazumder is disheartened by how quickly Trump managed to raise anti-Muslim sentiments both during the campaign and after his landslide victory. “Before Trump ever thought about running for any sort of public office, let alone president, I never once felt unwanted or scared because my background. After the election, reading stories about Muslims being profiled by strangers made me become more precautious whenever I’m not home. You never know when you might run into one of these crazy people.”
      For now though, it’s business as usual in the city. Not just at J.K. Deli, but at the thousand other bodegas that voiced their opposition to Trump and his new immigration laws.

Pitch No. 2 – Americans’ Views on the Voodou Religion

For my second article I want to write an article on a religion that originated in Haiti that some Haitians call a disgrace to their culture: Voodou.

In American media, Voodou is highly stigmatized, but what some may not know is that it is also highly stigmatized in Haiti as well, especially among the Protestant faiths in Haiti. Many Haitians even blame Voodou-ism for the state Haiti is in now with disasters hitting the country every year.

In fact, Voodou is a combination of the religion the slaves brought back from Africa (will look up more on what country in Africa produced the most future-Haitian slaves) and also Roman Catholicism. Many people believe that Voodou is devil worshipping, but in fact, those who believe in Voodou are devout Catholics who believe in God. You are not even allowed to join the Voodou faith if you are not a Catholic.

I plan to not only be interviewing American born people on their view of Voodou, but Haitians who moved from Haiti to America (Haitian-Americans) as well. I want to know what their knowledge of the Voodou religion is and where and how they gained this view of the Voodou religion. I will then explain to them the background of Voodou (if they don’t know) and ask if their opinion on the religion changes.


Bengali-Americans in Ozone Park and Identity (Story 1)

When Sayara Uddin, 22, was asked to give a brief history about her mother land Bangladesh, she froze. She did not budge. Knowing the history of the country one’s family comes from can come easy to many people, however some Bengali-Americans in a predominantly Bengali community in Ozone Park, Queens, find themselves struggling to find their identity in the city that is referred to as a melting pot.

Poverty and corruption have taken over Bangladesh for many years, corruption being the most pervasive, hence the reason why the country remains uncivilized and there is lack of peace.

Bangladesh routinely finds itself among the most corrupt countries in the world. Even in the country’s police force, there is a high risk of encountering corruption due to low salaries, lack of training and expertise. When it comes to the government, there is no transparency between the people and the government. There have been efforts, however, to try to use information technology in order to enhance the transparency and efficiency of some government services.

The Bangladeshi tax administration is another example of corruption in the country. Irregular payments in connection with tax payments are common. It is common for businesses to negotiate their tax liabilities with the tax administration, whereby both parties enter into implicit agreements which involves regular informal payments.

The press in Bangladesh is considered to be partly free. The media is moderately active and public criticism of the government is common. Legal and regulatory framework allows for some restrictions, and physical attacks and harassment against reporters have recently increased, thus making Bangladesh an unsafe place for reporting at times. While freedom of association and assembly is guaranteed by the constitution, it is not always respected in. Freedom of speech and expression are restricted as well.

“Being born and raised in New York, I feel like I’m so Americanized that I have no idea about the history of the country my family comes from or even the slightest idea of what is going on there,” said Uddin. “But if you ask almost any other Bengali-American my age to tell you a little bit about Bangladesh, I bet they would struggle just like I did.”

Many young Bengali-Americans find themselves in a similar position as Uddin. Their lack of knowledge on the country most of their family comes from speaks volumes on the struggle of identity for those who were born here or spent most of their life here.

“I came here from Bangladesh when I was 17 in 1988 because my family knew coming to the land of opportunity meant wealth and a better life for us,” said Delwar Rahman, 46, who has been living in Ozone Park since coming to New York. “But I don’t know very much about Bangladesh or its history. I feel like growing up, all I saw was poverty and the only thing explained to me and taught in school was that the government was the root of all evil and corruption plagued the country since basically the beginning of its time.”

Rahman goes on to explain that because he has been living in America for almost 30 years now, he does not ever really find the need to look into what is going on back home. “It’s sad that I have nothing positive to say about Bangladesh, or anything to say at all when my kids ask me about Bangladesh because they want to know how life is there. But the truth is, when you come to America and live in New York especially, the only thing you can really think about is hustling and working day and night to provide for your family.”

The common ground many Bengali- Americans in Ozone Park share are their cultural values, the food they eat, the language they share and the experiences of being an immigrant and starting a family in the land of opportunity while barely being in touch with their roots.

The attitude that many Bengali-Americans like Uddin and Rahman have is that if they no longer live in Bangladesh, the corruption and poverty happening there does not impact their lives. What they may not be fully aware of is the fact that when they are addressed to speak on the issues or history of their country, the Americanized mentality conflicts with an inner struggle of identity. Thus, many Bengali-Americans shy away from even wanting to learn about their homeland.


Filipinos New Yorkers on Dutrete Final


It is a busy Saturday afternoon at the Red Ribbon Bakeshop in Woodside, Queens, home to the largest Filipinos community in New York City. 38,000 Filipinos reside in Queens the 2010 Census reported. As many Filipinos are enjoying bake goods back from home, the talk of the community has been about the president back at home.


Philippines president Rodrigo Duterte has the world in shocked with his operation the war on drugs, according to the Human Rights Watch, since taking office on June 30, 2016, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has launched an abusive and violation “war on drugs” that has resulted in the deaths of more than 6,000 Filipinos to date. Many have called this extrajudicial killing; the term means it is the assassination or murder of a person by governmental authorities without the sanction of any judicial proceeding or legal process.


There has been a drug problem in the Philippines. According to the Philippine Dangerous Drugs Board it estimated a total of 1.8 million drug users. The two of the most used and valuable illegal drugs in the country are methamphetamine hydrochloride (shabu) and marijuana, it has led to many illegal drug trading.


The leader of Philippines vowed to eliminate all drug offenders during his presidential campaign and currently. “If I couldn’t convince you to stop, I’ll have you killed… if you’re into drugs, I’m very sorry. I’ll have to apologize to your family because you’ll surely get killed.” Said Duterte.


The Republic Act No. 9189, otherwise known as “The Overseas Absentee Voting Act of 2003, all citizens of the Philippines abroad, at least eighteen (18) years of age on the day of the elections, and who are registered overseas voters, may vote for the President.


When elections were held in May last year 2016. Duterte won the overseas vote. In the United States primarily he got 24,789 votes from the Filipinos community. In New York City, there are some mixed opinions about president Duterte actions.


“My young nephews at home is living in fear because they can die without no reason,” said Geraldine Ocampo, 32 a Woodside resident from the Philippines. Ocampo’s family resides in Davo, in which Duterte was mayor of the city.


“Dutrerte is doing what no other president has done over the last decade; Clean the streets” said Flushing resident Thomas Zabala, 56, his family reside in the capital Manila. The city of Manila has painted the massive “war on drugs” killings according to The Philippine National Police’s data indicates that police killed at least 2,250 in Manila “suspected drug personalities” from July 2016 to January 2017.


There have been protest throughout New York City over the past months organized by human rights activists and Filipino American organizations. Emily Sanderson is organizer of Vocal NYC and Health Gap, just recently organized a protest in front of the Philippines Consulate on 5th Avenue.


“It is unacceptable that Rodrigo Duterte is not responsible for the killings of innocent people with drug abuse and no help by the Duterte government” said Sanderson.


The Philippine leader just recently stated in a conference in china “Filipinos in America are not Filipinos,” because “The Filipinos in America are not Filipinos anymore, they’re Americans. Their attitude is American.” The younger generation of Filipino Americans is taking action. The New York University’s International Filipino Association is home to the NYU Filipino students.


Ruthie Ofrasio 20, a junior year student at New York University, is concern on how Filipinos Americans has not raised their voice. “The Voice Filipinos everywhere is important even if they are not home, what is happening in my country is devastating and we as Filipinos have make actions” said Ofrasio.


Ukraine Story 1 Final

100 Years Later, Scholars Remember Ukrainian Revolution

By Anne Ehart

Panelists at the Friday, February 24 “Ukrainian Statehood 1917-21: Institutions and Individuals” conference at Columbia University.

100 years ago today, Ukraine was in the midst of a struggle for independence from Russia. From 1917-1921, war was waged between Ukrainian independence and Soviet forces, resulting in the creation of the Ukrainian National Republic.

Today, Ukraine is once again butting heads with Russia, fighting off Russian military and pro-Russia separatist groups attempting to take control of Ukraine.

On February 24 and 25, the Ukrainian Studies Program at Columbia University commemorated the 100-year anniversary of the Ukrainian revolution with a series of panel discussions entitled “Ukrainian statehood 1917-21: Institutions and Individuals.”

Pitch for 2nd China story

For my next story, I was thinking of going in a more light hearted direction and concentrate on a lifestyle/culture piece. When I was exploring the Committee for U.S-China relation’s website, I saw they were giving a talk about the role of China in Hollywood last month. I thought it would be fun to attend that conversation, but it was too late. I still think this would be an interesting subject to explore.

A very interesting aspect that had come to my attention lately is the “whitewashing” in Hollywood of movie roles. This means the act of taking a role that is meant for a non-white person (mostly when doing biopics) and putting a Caucasian in their place. This recently occurred with the movie “The Great Wall” starring Matt Damon and in the movie, “Ghost in the Shell,” a fictional piece starring Scarlett Johannson. I think the latter is based on a Japanese series, but it has occurred with plenty of Chinese characters and stories as well.

I’m thinking of interviewing the program director of Cinema Studies at City College because the description of the program explains how the students study film and the different aspects of how it is made. I think it would be interesting to hear his opinion and I’m hoping he will be able to connect me to a student of Chinese descent to get his/her’s take on white washing in Hollywood.