Not so charitable — Ivanova/Johnson pitch

From Irina Ivanova and Victoria Johnson

A proposed title or headline

Not so charitable

A story slug — up to three words that capture the essence of your story

Charity care

Key elements

From 2008 and from 2010–

Amount of money hospitals receive for charity care (the “indigent care pool”). The number of applications they approve. The hospitals’ size (calculated by number of beds).

A news hook, or explanation of why this story matters now

In New York, where more than a dozen hospitals have closed in the past decade and six more are in danger of closing, the issue of cost and access to health care is particularly dire. The governor lobbied for NY to get an infusion of federal funding in part to help restructure Brooklyn hospitals, which activists say are necessary to provide medical care to the poorest people.

There’s a program in place called the Indigent Care Fund, which gives money to hospital throughout the state that have a lot of poor or uninsured (read:unprofitable) patients. But just because hospitals get that money doesn’t mean they spend it. Data collected by the Community Service Society shows that some hospitals that get large amounts of funding for charity care offer none, or little.

When CSS released this report in 2012, it was a big deal–the Times and other major media picked it up. The report used data from 2008-2009, and since that time, hospitals’ charity care practices have come under scrutiny and are now audited by the state. We’d like to show whether, and how much, hospitals’ charity care policies have improved in the past few years.

A description of and link to the data

  • A 2012 report from the Community Service Society, a nonprofit, describes the 201 hospitals in New York that provide charity care and compares it to the number of applications they approved. Report uses 2008 data.

  • Data from Institutional Cost Reports from 2010 (the same reports from which CSS gathered their data, above), covering all hospitals in the state. (Note: we’re still figuring out how exactly to extract the data).

  • A list of hospitals open, closed, and close to closing in New York City as of 2014

  • Sources

  • Elisabeth Benjamin, Vice President, Health Initiatives/Community Service Society of NY. (212) 614-5461;

  • Robin Gelburd, president, FAIR Health. 212-370-0704

  • Keith Smith, surgeon who runs a cash-based, transparently priced practice in Tulsa, OK.; 405-627-0274

Willens/Keith Pitch – Pirate Bay Filled with Oscar Gold

Pirate Bay Filled with Oscar Gold

Arrr you killing the film industry

Ross Keith & Max Willens

Over the past decade, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences – the body that presides over the Oscars – has been fighting against online piracy. However in the past eleven years 62% of films  sent to Academy members for consideration have appeared on sites like The Pirate Bay weeks and even months before their official release dates.

The Motion Picture Association of America has stated that the film industry employs over two million people  and provides $104 billion dollars in wages in the United States.  Estimates by the organization put online piracy costs the film industry at more than $20 billion per year. While that number has been questioned by some experts the MPAA spent at least $2.2 million on lobbying efforts in 2013 alone.

The economic structure of the film industry is centered around the overwhelming success of the blockbusters, overwhelming profitable films which account for a majority of industry revenue. However since most of these films end up nominated for Oscars they are usually pirated before official release dates.

We propose creating a visualization that displays how quickly Oscar nominated films have been pirated over the past eleven years. We have not determined how this will best be visualized but our early discussion has leaned towards a interactive bubble chart, filterable along data points.

During our initial examination of the data it appears that the average number of days until the screener leaked has gone through two distinct slides. The averages in 2008 and 2014 were about three weeks until leak compared too two months in 2005 and 2011.

We have also obtained data on how frequently the most pirated films have been available on legal streaming sites like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Video. The vast majority of frequently pirated films are not available legally leading to the conclusion that piracy may stem from availability rather then cost or malice. While we are not certain if we will include this dataset in our final visualization it does seem like an appropriate conclusion to our data narrative.

Our deadline is set for after the Oscar award ceremony and consequently the end of awards season. This will allow us to gather a complete dataset on film leaks for 2014 as well allow us to piggy back on Oscar related buzz.

The above links to a spreadsheet showing how quickly Academy Award-nominated films appeared on torrent sites dating back to 2002. It’s maintained by Andy Baio, a web developer and programmer who’s worked on a variety of platforms and projects over the years.

The second links to data on frequently pirated movies availability on legal streaming services. The site is maintained by Jerry BritoEli Dourado, and Matt Sherman and the data is collected from sites TorrentFreak and Can I Stream It.


Nobody’s gotten back to us yet, but we plan on contacting the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and the Motion Picture Association of America, as well as the editors of TorrentFreak, a website with news and insights into the news related to torrenting across the globe.

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences

Press Team

Natalie Kojen

Emily Benedict

Gail Silverman


Vice President, Corporate Communications


Media Contact, MPAA Washington D.C

Andy Baio

NYC Agencies: Best and Worst pitch

By: Rebecca Harris and Rikki Reyna

New York City Budget: Who Uses and Abuses Funds

Slug: NYC Agencies Best and Worst

Key elements: 

– Stimulus funds

– Progress of projects that used stimulus funds

– Ranking of city agencies who received funds


The Mayor released his preliminary budget. The city is talking about money. Who gets it, what programs do they spend it on, and how much do they need? De Blasio even chastised Albany and the Federal Government for putting the squeeze on New York City’s budget.

But if every city department got every dollar they asked for, would that solve everything?

 A look into how various city departments spent the federal stimulus money they received five years ago shows that an influx of money is not a silver bullet. Because in many cases that money is not spent.

Data on the usage of stimulus funds provided to New York City agencies through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, found here, shows that in many cases the funds were underutilized, if used at all. For each project, the data gives a description of the project’s goals, how much money it received, the city agency that received the money for the project, and what percentage of the money was spent and what percentage of the project was completed.

Some of the worst offenders included…

Top 5 worst:

1) Department of Youth and Community Development (DYCD) – Out of School Time (OST), provides a mix of after-school activities for youth, Given $8,300,000 and has spent -0.28%

2) Department of Education (DOE) – Education Services for Special Needs Students, Given $316,603,358 has spent 0% of it

3) Department of Probation (DOP) – Rockefeller Drug Law Reform Probation Investigation and Community Supervison, given $3,976,000 has spent 0% of funds

4) Department of Small Business Services (SBS) – Individual Training Grants, given $9,941,858 spent 0%

5) (SBS) – Workforce 1 Career Centers, given $1,722,515 spent 0%

Our project would investigate some of these cases in which the money was grossly underused to seek to answer, why wasn’t the money spent and where did it go? And do these examples reflect a larger, systematic misuse of project funds by the respective city agencies.


Barbara Fife, Baruch College, Former NYC Deputy Mayor

Dick Dadey, Executive Director, Citizens Union

Steve Malanga, Senior Fellow, Senior Editor, Manhattan Institute

E.J. McMahan, Economist, Manhattan Institute

Nicole Gelinas, Senior Fellow, Contributing Editor, Manhattan Institute

Ronnie Lowenstein, Director, Independent Budget Office

Doug Turetsky, Communications Director, Independent Budget Office

James Parrot, Deputy Director, Chief Economist, Fiscal Policy Institute

Charles Brecher, Research Director, Prof., Citizens Budget Commission, Wagner, NYU

Betsy Lynam, Deputy Research Director, Citizens Budget Commission

Carol Kellerman, President, Citizens Budget Commission


Starbucks’s Reward Program Pitch

Proposed headline: Starbucks and Sky-High Retail Rates

Slug: Starbucks; Neighborhood; Rent

Key elements:
Look at zip codes in New York City with Starbucks locations.
Compare retail rents between zip codes with and without Starbucks.
Talk with experts and those affected about the impact of rising retail rents on neighborhood businesses.
Look at proposals from the de Blasio administration and New York Economic Development Corporation to support small businesses.

The hook:
With Bill de Blasio taking office, there is increasing attention on changes to the outer borough neighborhoods and what types of demographics those changes are being catered to. Starbucks is planning to open 3,000 new stores in North America by 2017 (we will find information about what new locations are currently slated in New York City).


NYU Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy.
Shannon Moriarty
Communications Director
Phone: 212-998-6492

Paul Milstein Center for Real Estate Research at Columbia
Media Inquiries
Keshia Mark
Evan Nowell

Baruch Real Estate
George Donohue
Todd Trewhella

Director of Development at Starbucks Coffee Company
Someone at RKF. A large New York retail real estate broker
Farron Roboff, Senior Vice President at Royal Properties. Has leased to Starbucks locations.
press contact is Jeff Kintzer

Gomez/Eugenios, Permit Fees pitch

Byline: Camilo Gomez and Jillian Eugenios

Hede: New construction job? Permit fees may not be worth it

Slug: Permit Fees
Key elements:
Permit fees per job
Median annual wage per job
All 25 jobs listed with DOB
Information on where permit fees go
News hook: 
Construction jobs are on the rise, in an industry that has continued to show healthy growth post-recession. However, many of those jobs require permits that must be renewed every one to three years, bringing into question whether or not  some pay too much based on how much they earn.
Description of data and link:
Department of Buildings information on NYC Open Source Data

Alex Castaldi, 718-392-5077, NY Concrete Workers
Local contact of the New York State Laborers’ Union (represents over 40,000 members employed in the construction industry and other fields throughout the state)

Bryan LaVigne, Director of Administration & Development, Fiscal Policy Institute
518.786.3156 Office, 518.527.0353 Cell,

Anthony J. Barkume, Compensation research at Bureau of Labor Statistics, 202-691-7527,

Hartman/Smiley: Olympic Injuries

Madison Hartman & Minda Smiley

Title: It’s All Fun and Games Until Someone Gets Hurt: Hundreds of Olympians are Injured During Winter Olympic Games

Slug: Olympic Injuries


As the winter Olympics heat up in Sochi, each news cycle alerts us of yet another athlete’s injury. Before the games even began, a young American free skier broke her leg and had to be wheeled through the opening ceremony.


Data from the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver breaks down all the injuries from those games. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) commissioned a team of doctors and researchers to record injuries that took place during the games in order to find out more about injury rates during the games to try to combat them in the future.


We’ve talked to Doctor Lars Engebretsen, Head of Scientific Activities for the IOC, to help put some of the information in context. We also spoke with the Minnesota Gophers Athletic Trainer for Men’s Hockey so he could help explain why so many hockey players get injured. Currently, we are trying to get in touch with someone at the Sport Injury Prevention Center to see if they have been influenced by the study. We would also like to know what work they have done to try to prevent Olympic injuries.


Our graphics break down the injuries primarily by gender, sport, and injury location. Our first graph features a skeleton (front and back) that shows total injuries by location and number.


Our second graph is a bar graph that shows injuries by event type using percentages. For example, the first and highest bar shows that ice hockey contributed to 18% of the injuries. When you hover over the bar, you can see just how many injuries there were (in this case, 82).


Our third graph is also a bar graph that shows the most common injuries by place of injury and sport.


We also include some key takeaway facts, including most dangerous sport for female athletes compared to male athletes as well as which gender received more injuries per 1,000 athletes.

Overall, our work distills this information into graphics that can help readers get a more comprehensive understanding of just how Olympic injuries break down. Through adding expert opinion, we are able to see how this data compares to the injuries in the recent Sochi games as well as find out what steps are being taken to prevent injuries. They can also explain why some sports are more dangerous than others and what can be done to help athletes compete as safely as possible.

Three Department of Buildings data sets: Camilo Gomez

The following three data sets come from NYC Open Data (

The first one is about Department of Buildings license fees:

In it, we can see a table with a list of 25 construction jobs. For each, we find the cost of obtaining a license, the duration of the license and the cost of renewing it. All licenses expire after either three years or one year except for that of a journeyman plumber or journeyman fire suppression piping installer, whose  license ever expires.

With this information it is possible to calculate how much each worker has to pay for license fees over a twelve-year period from the moment that he pays his original fee. Then, it would be possible to create a line graph, each line representing a profession, with dollar amounts in the y-axis and the number of years in the x-axis. This would show how the cost of fees compare in each profession.

The second one is about Department of Buildings complaints received:

It shows the date of each complaint, the type of complaint (the key for each complaint category can be found here: and the street and house number of the complaint. With this information, a map could be created to show which community districts in New York’s five boroughs have had the most complaints, what types of complaints have been the most common during a particular time period (the table’s oldest complaint is from 1989 and the latest from 2013) and compare how the number and type of complaints have varied through time.

The third data set is about Department of Building permits:

These are building permits that were issued in 06/07/2013 but it includes buildings that were begun as early as the 1990s. One could concentrate only on the new constructions (those that were started after the issuance of this permit) plot the sites in a map, and see how many of those correspond with the map of complaints from the previous data set.


Matt MacVey Data Sets

  1. Vacant publicly owned land.
    Vacant private land and tax assessment
    Bill de Blasio has stated that he wants to increase taxes on vacant lots  to encourage building on these sites. Where are these spaces and what effect are they having on their communities. These vacant spaces are often turned into community gardens. Vacant lots  provide a significant portion of the wild habitat that supports biodiversity in New York City. I could talk with people that use community gardens made from similar lots. What species that might lose habitat?
  2. Census Computer and Internet Access in the United States 2012
    Smartphone and internet access data. There is potential for stories about differing access between income levels or states. I think that it could be interesting to find some regions that are being held back by a lack of internet access. I could look at the difference between rural and urban New York state or look at the differences within New York City.
    This new census data is the first to show information about access to smartphones. Some people are looking to smartphones to help with inequality in access to the internet, the digital divide. I want to look at what this new data shows about smartphones and the digital divide and whether having smartphone access has the same economic impact as other types of broadband access.
    Another angle, 25% of households don’t have internet access. What do those households look like?
  3. Starbucks locations.
    I read a piece about a new Starbucks uptown and the economic changes this signifies for commercial renting in the area. (
    De Blasio’s mayorship has put a spotlight on inequality, gentrification, and the economic identity of the outer boroughs. So, what does it mean when a Starbucks arrives in a new part of town? Readers will find out what neighborhoods Starbucks are clustered in, median household income, median commercial rent, how those numbers have changed in the last five or 10 years, and if those neighborhoods seen big demographic shifts.
    I can pull out a few stories to focus on, maybe someplace where a Starbucks closed or a place where Starbucks challenged a local coffee shop.

Willens Data Sets

The musiXmatch dataset

Created in partnership with the Million Song Dataset, a dataset created by the Echo Nest for developers who are looking to create music-related digital tools and apps, this app compiles information about songs spread out across many genres and eras. It is maintained by Columbia University, while the Million Song Dataset is maintained by the Echo Nest and MIT.

Rather than full lists of lyrics for every song, the most important and common words from songs are included and grouped together, allowing researchers to identify broad trends in music.

Food Scrap Drop-Off sites

A list of (primarily greenmarkets) that accept food scrap drop-offs. The city does not maintain all of these sites, but it does house the map at its data portal,

The distribution of these sites ought to be able to tell us a lot about how ideas about composting can travel in communities across New York.

Piracy Data

Data about the year’s Oscar-nominated films and how long they took to leak onto piracy networks. The data’s been compiled and hosted by a guy named Andy Baio, a developer and programmer who’s worked on a variety of projects, including the initial team that built Kickstarter.

I think this data’s interesting because it deals with a topic that’s of ongoing interest in the media industry, it’s got a good peg (the upcoming Academy Awards), and it’s a manageable set that people will understand quickly.