Category Archives: Investigative Reports

Investigative Report: Student Journalists Find Rampant Violations of NYC Environmental Law

By Aracely Chavez, Taylor Fetty, Breonna Reese, Sarah Santiago and Michael Williams with the staff of The Princeton Summer Journal

On Wednesday, August 10, ABC News correspondent Sunny Hostin was in the driver’s seat of her parked Mercedes SUV in lower Manhattan, unaware she was breaking the law.  Hostin, simply by sitting in her air-conditioned vehicle, was one of many of New Yorkers who every day violate a little-known, seldom-enforced rule designed to reduce auto emissions. An infraction won’t land anyone in Rikers Island prison, but advocates argue that failing to enforce the law quietly wreaks financial and environmental havoc on the city.

In New York City, it is illegal for cars, vans or buses to idle for more than three minutes—or for more than one minute near a school. Over the course of several hours last week, a team of 37 high school reporters from the Princeton Summer Journal observed 104 vehicles idling for over three minutes in Manhattan and Brooklyn. Roughly 80 percent were private automobiles; the rest were commercial vehicles, limousines and taxis. After being approached and informed of the city’s three-minute anti-idling law, less than one in five drivers turned off their engines. Many weren’t shy about voicing their displeasure. “What difference does it make?” huffed an elderly woman in Brooklyn Heights who identified herself as Mrs. Pittman. “I don’t care about a law.” Continue reading

Expired food and drugs found in multiple Trenton stores

By Vayne Ong
with Samuel Lee, Jeannie Regidor and the staff of The Princeton Summer Journal

In a Krauszer’s Food Store in Trenton, New Jersey, five two-liter bottles of Barq’s root beer collect dust on the bottom shelf of the soda aisle. When the dust is wiped away, text reveals these bottles all passed their sell-by dates in June 2014.

These were just five of the 272 expired products, ranging from food to over-the-counter drugs, found in an Aug. 4 Princeton Summer Journal investigation. In a survey of convenience stores and pharmacies in Trenton, a team of 23 Summer Journal reporters discovered a wide range of products that have passed their sell-by, best-if-used-by, use-by, and expiration dates. Continue reading

Facts of Gaza conflict elude many in New York

A demonstrator displays a flag at a gathering for Universal Peace Day, which commemorates the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, on Aug. 5.

A demonstrator displays a flag at a gathering for Universal Peace Day, which commemorates the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, on Aug. 5.

By Angela Kim, Amna Nawaz, Nicholas Santiago and Hasani Valdez
with the staff of the Princeton Summer Journal

ByTheNumbersNew Yorkers are known for their global-mindedness, diversity and strong opinions. But in a survey conducted by the Princeton Summer Journalism Program last week in New York, a majority of respondents did not know some of the basic facts of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in Gaza.

A large majority of 410 people interviewed around Union Square on Aug. 5 did not know the name of the leader of Hamas, the political faction which governs Gaza and is regarded as a terrorist group by the United States. Although 58-year-old Khaled Meshaal has run Hamas for the past ten years, 99 percent of those surveyed could not name him. Just three percent of those interviewed were aware that the Hamas leader resides in exile in Qatar.

Of those interviewed, just under 25 percent correctly identified the approximate number of Israeli casualties, which numbered 67 as of Aug. 6, according to BBC world news. (Responses within the range of 47-87 were considered correct answers.) Similarly, just under 25 percent of those polled correctly identified the number of Palestinian casualties within a range of 1300-2300. The number was 1,888 on Aug. 4, according to the Palestinian Center for Human Rights. Continue reading

New Plan B rules cause confusion for NYC pharmacists

By Erick Arzate, Shemaiah Clarke, Miguel Diaz and Hunter Richards
with the staff of The Princeton Summer Journal

Confusion On The Morning AfterThis June, in response to a federal judge’s ruling, the Obama administration made the emergency contraceptive pill Plan B One-Step available over the counter to people of all ages and genders.

But an investigation by The Princeton Summer Journal revealed that the vast majority of pharmacists interviewed in New York City did not know about this recent change regarding the rules for access to Plan B One-Step, the most common “morning-after” pill.

Of 49 pharmacists interviewed Wednesday in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx, only 16 were even aware that Plan B One-Step was now available to everyone without age or point-of-sale restrictions.

And of those 16 pharmacists, only 11 were actually selling Plan B One-Step without any restrictions. Several of the pharmacists interviewed said they were still enforcing the now-defunct age restrictions and cited lack of guidance from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the pill’s manufacturer, Teva Pharmaceuticals, as a cause of confusion. Continue reading

Unpaid journalism internships may serve as barrier to profession for low-income students

By Ashley Jones-Quaidoo, Lesley Le Platte, Jeanne Li and Ellen Pham
with the staff of The Princeton Summer Journal

Like many aspiring journalists, Harvard University student Michelle Hu went hunting for media internships this summer. But as a student on financial aid, Hu had to consider money when making her decision. Hu simply couldn’t afford to take an unpaid internship.

In the end, she got an internship with Al Jazeera in Washington, and was able to pull together money to cover basic expenses—a $1,000 stipend from Al Jazeera and a $1,000 scholarship from the Asian American Journalism Association. Even with this funding, however, budgeting for the summer still wasn’t easy.

“I had to find a place with cheap rent,” Hu said. “Every time I bought food it was a conscious decision.”

At least Hu was able to find funding. With the economy sluggish and the news industry struggling, unpaid journalism internships seem more common than ever. And that means students from low-income backgrounds are facing a major barrier to entry in the industry. Continue reading