Category Archives: Pitches

Johnson/Sharif: Politician Salaries

A proposed title or headline

What’s your City Official’s Payroll?

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

Politician salaries

Key elements

New York City officials are often paid $80,000-$500,000 a year.

At least 10 officials have been found on misusing taxpayer’s money in the past two years.

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

The Queens Library director was charged with using taxpayer’s money for personal use. The story will focus on how this alleged corruption could happen how much of New York taxes go to salaries, and how are the salaries determined and distributed.

Links to data

Payroll for all branches and public offices

NYC City Council Districts

Ivanova/Willens: Medical Data Breaches

A proposed title or headline

Who’s losing your data?

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

Data breaches

Key elements

– Since 2009, more than 2.5 million medical records have been lost or stolen in New York State. That means one in ten New Yorkers has had their data compromised.

– Institutions reporting breaches of medical data run the gamut from insurance providers to public hospitals to prestigious university-affiliated medical centers.

– The overwhelming majority of these breaches occur with electronic (not paper) records.

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

In brief, medical data means big money–both for its legitimate users and to people selling it on the black market.

The New York State Department of Health is on the verge of rolling out the State Health Information Network of New York (SHIN-NY), a network that allows patients’ medical information to travel more easily between providers. While medical providers stand to gain “bonuses” in the form of federal money for converting to medical records, patient advocates have raised concerns with the project, including lack of transparency and patient consent.

We want to show the extent to which data breaches exist in the current system, and the overlap between institutions that can’t secure their data now with those who will be part of the SHIN-NY (spoiler: there’s a lot of them.)

Links to data

Data breaches in New York state since 2009:

A cleaned-up file is here (that we’re trying to geocode):

We’re also thinking about ways to map overlaps in patients of the various entities on teh “breach list.” In other words, how likely is it that someone who’s a patient at Doctor X’s also has a health plan with carrier y? Possibility here for an intelligent guess about how many people have had their medical records compromised more than once.


Dr. Latanya Sweeney, Harvard/FTC — technologist & privacy expert.

Dr. Deborah Peel, founder, Patients’ Privacy Rights.

Corinne Carey, New York Civil Liberties Union; advisor to SHIN-NY.

Eric Fader, health care lawyer, Day Pitney. // (212) 297 2413


Pitch: College Majors, Men & Women

Partnering with Rikki Reyna

Headline: Women now complete more college degrees than men – but what are they majoring in?

Slug – College Majors

Key Elements: Women are now completing more college degrees than men. What’s less widely know is what women are majoring in. Although women reached (and surpassed) equality in terms of college attendance and graduation rates in comparison to men, there still remains a large gender gap in terms of college major choice.

News Hook: There is a gender gap in the workforce, with men still making more money than women. This data shows another gender gap that exists – before men and women start their post-graduate careers.

Link to data:

Pitch: Marijuana Policy in the U.S.

Partnering with Matt MacVey
Headline: The Economics of Marijuana
Slug: Weedonomics
Key elements: The country is in a major transitional phase on marijuana policy, not just at the state level but at the federal level as well within the Justice Department. Marijuana-related arrests cost taxpayers around $15 billion a year, and $75 million in New York City alone.  In comparison, estimates of tax revenue that the U.S. government would take in if marijuana was legalized and taxed is between $40 -$100 billion. This is also a unique issue because technically marijuana is still federally illegal, but each state is individually changing its own laws and as a result the nation is a patchwork of different marijuana policies. How much would legalizing marijuana affect the prison-system funded by taxpayer dollars, and how much would it affect the federal budget?  Where does each state currently stand with its marijuana policies?
News hook: This topic is very newsworthy since new things are happening in this area each week. We could look at this through the lens of Colorado and Washington’s new policies to see how the change is actually playing out on the state level, or we track the shift in policy around the country.

Pitch: LGBT Visibility on TV

Partnering with Jillian Eugenios

Headline: LGBT On TV – Who’s leading the way


Key elements: 2013 was a good year for LGBT visibility on TV, with a considerable increase in the quantity of characters. Leading the networks was Fox, with 42% of their primetime programming including some form of LGBT storylines. Conversely, CBS featured only 14%. As we settle into 2014, how are the networks fairing? Are the midseason debuts measuring up or dropping the ball? A well known issue with LGBT characters on TV is their rapid rate of death, we could dig into those numbers and see how long their arcs last. Are they actually dying at an alarmingly higher rate?

News Hook: In the coming months, some of the most praised LGBT inclusive shows such as Orphan Black and Orange Is The New Black premiere their sophomore seasons. Will they keep up their much-praised representation in the new year?

 Link to data:

Pitch: Literacy among New York City adults

From Jillian Eugenios (partner Maddy Hartman)

A proposed title or headline

Millions in funding,  but adult literacy in NYC still lags

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

Adult literacy

Key elements

1.8 million adults in New York City lack English proficiency, and only a small percent have access to publicly-funded classes. According to the city budget, $24 million will be allocated every year over the next three years to fund these classes.
With only 4 percent of those in need actually accessing the classes, which neighborhoods are underserved, and why?

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

  • Though there was a peak in 2010, annual allocations to adult literacy programs since then have been reduced by over $6.5 million. That represents a loss of close to 7,000 classroom seats.
  • New York State recently replaced the GED with the new TASC, which aligns more with Common Core. That switch means that adult students now need to adapt to the new test, but without increased support they will fall even more behind.

Links to data


New York City Coalition for Adult Literacy

LaGuardia Community College – Center for Immigrant Education and Training

Turning Point, a community-based organization located in Sunset Park and Red Hook that serves all of Brooklyn

Union settlement


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