New York and medical marijuana

New York has become the 23rd state to open its doors to medical marijuana. Back in July of 2014, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a limited medical marijuana bill. Supporters in New York are frustrated with the bill’s restrictions and how long it is taking to go into effect.

Kate Hintz is a supporter of medical marijuana. She has a petition on to pass the Compassionate Access, Research Expansion and Respect States Act.

On March 24, U.S. Reps. Steve Cohen. and Don Young along with U.S. Senators Rand Paul, Kirstin Gellibrand and Cory Booker introduced the CARERS Act, which would prevent the federal government from controlling or interfering with the state medical marijuana laws.

Hintz wants this bill to pass for her daughter, Morgan. Morgan is four-years-old and suffers from Dravet Syndrome, a rare form of epilepsy that causes frequent and dangerous seizures.

The medications prescribed to Morgan have not only been ineffective, but have also given her terrible side effects. Doctors have suggested the use of cannabidiol oil, a form of medical marijuana.

Hints wrote a letter on urging more people to co-sponsor the bill.

“Congress is lagging far behind the American people on this issue and it’s going to take all of our voices to change the status quo,” Gellibrand wrote in response to the letter.

Hintz is just one of many families who have a loved one suffering from ailments like this.

CNN has been reporting about medical marijuana a lot lately. Dr. Sanjay Gupta, the chief medical correspondent, wrote a piece last month about how it is “time for a medical marijuana revolution.”

Marijuana at the federal level is still considered a schedule I drug, which is defined a drug with no currently accepted medical use and have a high potential for abuse.

“Marijuana, it doesn’t kill people, you can’t overdose on it. However, it has been scheduled as a class one drug for whatever reason,” Matt Elmes, a PhD student at Stony Brook University who conducted a study on marijuana said. “In recent years it has been a lot easier to study it and it seems to be easier and easier, so I think there will be a lot more studies coming out on the effects and benefits and how we can use this drug.”

Many medical marijuana advocated are unhappy with the restrictions that were put on the bill in order for Cuomo to pass it.

“It is the compassionate care act, but many people now refer to it as the Cuomo care act,” Brian Batrowny, a member of the New York Cannabis Alliance, said. “He refused to sign it [the bill] until there were several provisions made.”

The most notable provisions that Governor Cuomo made were that he eliminated ailments that were initially on the bill to receive medical marijuana as a form of treatment and to use medical cannabis it needs to be extracted into an oil form‑not smoked and not an edible.

Here’s what the medical marijuana law does say: A patient who has been certified by a doctor to use medical marijuana will register with the New York State Department of Health and receive a patient I.D. card. Specially approved organization can dispense the medical marijuana to these patients—under the Department of Health’s supervision.

In order to receive this treatment, one must have what the state defines as a “serious condition.” Some of these include, cancer, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis and managing epilepsy.

One of the major issues for advocates now is the bill is taking a long time to come into effect.

Hintz spoke at a press conference at the end of April with her daughter about how mothers who have children with epilepsy often obtain medical cannabis illegally, which makes them technically criminals.

“How much longer do you want to delay,” she asked Cuomo.

New York’s medical marijuana program is set to begin next year.

In a press release on April 28, from Assembly Health Committee Chair Richard Gottfried he addresses this issue. The release talked about how the bill came 298 days after Governor Cuomo signed the bill into law.

“To date, not one patient has received medical marijuana, and at least three children who might have benefitted from this well-known form of medical marijuana, have died since the bill was passed,” the press release reads.

Since July, advocates have been pressuring the Cuomo Administration to create an interim emergency access program for those who are suffering and may not be able to wait the amount of time that the Governor needs to get the medical marijuana program up and running.

Representatives like Gottfried and all behind the CARERS Act, have been doing that they can in the mean time to help.

“The failure of the Cuomo Administration to act in the face of the suffering of the terminally and critically ill and the deaths of at least three young children is unconscionable,” Julie Netherland, PhD, deputy state director at the Drug Policy Alliance, said.





The Upshot: an interactive form of data-driven journalism

On April 20 the New York Times published an article titled 1.5 Million Missing Black Men.

The article was to point out the fact that the most recent census showed a huge gap in the amount of black men in the country.

For some, analysis pieces can be kind of boring and dull. The way that this particular article displays the information is appealing to an audience because of all of the graphs.

Screen Shot 2015-04-21 at 4.51.22 PMUsually stories that are data-driven are important stories to tell and report on. Unfortunately, not everyone will take the time to read these stories. The good thing about adding an interactive element, or a simple graphic, to a piece like this is that a person can log on, skim through a story, but still see there impact by viewing the graphs.

Screen Shot 2015-04-21 at 4.54.20 PMThis graph above clearly displays the areas where the highest percent of black adults are missing. A quick look at this graph would give viewers the basic idea of which areas are experiencing this issue.

I think it is important for journalists to be familiar with how to incorporate these techniques into their stories because it guides the reader through more complicated stories where they can get lost with words. It is also a much cleaner and reader-friendly way to display data.



Massa on social media

My social media presence this semester might not have changed much from how it was. I do not think that I share my classwork as much as I should. I know it is something that is very important, I have just never been good at promoting my own work. I am present on social media with sharing stories that I like, but not so much promoting my own things and that is something I need to work on doing more.

I have, however, increased followers. I’m not sure of the exact number, but almost every day I at least have one more follower. I only have 440, but i’m working on it.

I think what definitely works is to share classmates stories and to use hashtags. I have to say, I’m not a huge hashtagger, but I need to learn to use them more because that is how people find things. When I tweeted about my audio slideshow Professor Corry retweeted it and added the hashtags that I should have…so I retweeted that as well. (There is a tweet from my sister in the middle there…very important news.)

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I like to use my twitter account to tweet at my friends from the radio when they do their news at noon show. I know that is not specific to this class, but this class has inspired me to do so.

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I think what worked is that I saw a lot of my classmates tweeting their own stories, or putting them on Facebook, as well as the stories of others.

I know a couple of students tweeted about the food story that Nicole and I did and that was much appreciated :).

Speaking of our food story, Nicole and I had fun with that one.

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The only thing that I would say did not work is my lack of tweeting about my own stories and my lack of hashtag use. I’m going to make sure that I do that moving forward.

The freedom to be yourself

Gay, straight, lesbian, bisexual, transgender. These titles are all identifiers, but do they need to define who you are?

There are not many current statistics on the transgender community. This topic is something that is not often discussed or talked about as a social norm.

Cate Brenner shared her story with me about her struggle to be comfortable with who she is today.

audio project better from Krysten Massa on Vimeo.




Why I like the Serial podcast

When the serial podcast came out in 2014 I heard a lot of buzz about it. I never actually took the time to listen to it, however after listening to the first episode in class I could see how people would be hooked on it.

So naturally for this assignment I chose to listen to serial. What I like about it is that it has many aspects that keep the listeners attention. The first thing I notices that I really liked about this podcast is the theme song. Every great T.V. show or radio show needs a catchy theme song. This one is great because it is simple, yet eerie.

The second thing that I noticed that I like about this podcast is the sound of Sarah Koenig’s voice. She has a perfect voice for radio, it is very clear and crisp.

I like the way that the script is kind of casual, it’s almost like your friend is talking to you and telling you the story. However, it is not too casual to the point where it is not informative.

I like use of sound and sound bites in the podcast. The episodes have clips from interviews with the victims friends. In the second episode she is reading from Hae Min Lee, the victim’s, diary. While she is reading this there is nice background music playing. In the diary entry she is talking about the prom and the music coincides with that.

As a whole this podcast captures my attention with its suspenseful story and good use of music as well as Koenigs transparency. She does not read her script like she is trying to peg the murder on somebody. She allows the facts to speak.

Why did I chose journalism?

If you has asked me 6 years ago what I was going to be doing with my life, I probably would not have come up with Stony Brook and maybe not even journalism.

I was one of those people who just did not like school, it was not for me. I could have been a lot smarter than my grades demonstrated, but I did not try, because I did not care.

I did not even want to attend college. One time at the beginning of senior year my friend asked me if I applied to college yet. I shook my head no.

“Kryssy! Come on,. we are applying at Suffolk,” she told me.

So, I attended Suffolk County Community College for 2 years and majored in general studies. What I did always enjoy though was writing. Growing up I was always writing, making up crazy stories. I was always the kid who would sit everybody down and have to tell them a story that I made up.

At first I thought that I might become a writer, I wanted to write books. Then I began to think. I enjoyed photography, though I was incredibly amateur at first, and I loved to talk to people. I’m very blunt when talking to people and I am not afraid to ask them personal questions.

All of this combined led me to journalism. I want to be the person who knows the story and is able to tell it to everyone. So at Suffolk I joined one of the papers, The Western Student Press. This was not the well-known campus publication, but that was probably better because to be honest I had no idea what I was doing. I was not taking any journalism classes at Suffolk.

So I wrote for this paper for about a year and all of my stories were published, I also took photos for them. I realized that this was something I really enjoyed and that when I graduated Suffolk I was either going to major in journalism or communications.

I knew that I needed to stay close to home for college because I have two jobs that I wanted to keep. When the time came I was torn between attending Hofstra to major in communications and public relations or Stony Brook for journalism. Ultimately, Stony Brook was way cheaper.

So Stony Brook it was. To be honest, I did not love it at first. However, I really grew to love it here and to love what I was doing. It’s a lot of work, but I would not have it any other way.

The baseball story is a home run

I would like to start this blog post out by saying that I think the entire class did a really nice job on this assignment. I was really impressed with all of the photos.

For this homework assignment I chose to review the baseball story because 1) I think it was well done and 2) I enjoy attractive, athletic boys (sorry, it needed to be said).

First off, I thought the idea for this story was really good. The question of “why would you choose college over professional baseball?” is something that I would like to know the answer to.

As far as photos go, I think they came out really nice. I really like the profile shots of the players. In the first one, of Johnny Caputo, there is a really good shallow depth of field. The background is blurred, but you can still tell where he is and I like where he was placed for the photo.


I like what they did with the photo of the baseball field. I think for this assignment it was important to capture a photo of the field, however they faced the obstacle of all of the snow. The caption that they used really made it work though. It was a good set up for their topic to compare the snow covered field to the fact that the professional baseball players are in warm and sunny Florida preparing for their season because their project focused on why the players would choose college baseball over professional.



I suspect that it was an obstacle to have to shoot through the nets during the teams indoor practice and I think  despite that the photos came out well, so good job with that.


Also, I like the variety of shots. A photo that I really liked is the photo at the top of the post with the shoes and the baseball that is in focus. I think that was a good photo to put there.


I also like that there are a variety of photos. They have action shots, the individual photos of the players, which look natural and not posed and even the coach during practice.

Another thing I like is the photo captions. A photo caption should be something that adds to the story and these captions did. I like the way they used to quotes of the players and their back stories in the captions rather than just in the blog post.

The only critique that I have is that they could have also gotten some shots of the players in a college setting. For example, if they got shots of them still in their practice clothes, but somewhere else on campus interacting with their friends or even studying. This is not something that would make or break their project, but it was just I thought I had when I was reading through it and I feel like I needed to throw a critique in there somewhere.

The last picture of the two players Zamora and MacEachern is a nice photo that captures a moment of the two kind of goofing around, that is what I assume they are doing anyway. I like that because it demonstrates that they are young and although they are passionate about baseball and hope to go somewhere with it one day, they needed that fun, college experience.


I also want to note that I give Cam and Andrew credit because I know that it is difficult to get access to shoot sports teams in this way and they pulled it off.

So, good job guys.



Photo Story: The best food places in the Stony Brook area

Food is the perfect subject for photography because it is colorful, it doesn’t move and everybody likes food.

Photo credit: screen shot by Krysten Massa
Photo credit:
screen shot by Krysten Massa

My idea for a photo story is to go around to different, not so well-known, food places in the Stony Brook or St. James area and talk to the owners, learn a little bit about the place and try the food to let people know if it is actually good.

The idea of this would be to tell the story using pictures by taking a photo of the owners and employees, and having a little caption with a quote from them, and then taking photos of people eating there and close-ups of food.

This would be a story that is kind of fun and I think that is is something that people would enjoy reading.

Max Avdeev photography shows devastation in Ukraine

Everybody knows BuzzFeed as the site with the funny lists and cat photos. I’ll admit, I was skeptical when I heard that they wanted to cover some more hard news stories. However, in my search to find a good photo story for homework I came across a really great article on BuzzFeed by Max Seddon and photographer Max Avdeev.

It is titled “Horrific Images Capture The Sheer Brutality Of War In Ukraine.” Avdeev is a photographer embed with the rebel fighters, known as the First Slavyansk Brigade, in Logvinove, Ukraine. He was able to capture some powerful images.

Screenshot Krysten Massa. Photo credit: Max Avdeev
Screenshot Krysten Massa. Photo credit: Max Avdeev


This is a relevant story because a lot of everyday news consumers have been following the development of the war in Ukraine right now. For us in the United States it is hard to imagine what is actually happening. It’s one thing to read a descriptive story, but images, like the one featured above, can tell a story like words cannot.

Screenshot by Krysten Massa. Photo credit: Max Avdeev
Screenshot by Krysten Massa. Photo credit: Max Avdeev

I think what worked with this is that aside from photos of army tanks and and explosions, Avdeev photographed the soldiers. In this photo you can see that the soldier in front doesn’t have an old-looking face, he can be relatively young. Seeing an image like this could hit home for some people. In this shot you also get to see the weather conditions in the background that the soldiers need to face.

I actually found this article while looking through the Twitter of a photo journalist named Souvid Datta. 

I think that it is cool that this story reached Datta who is London-based. He tweeted that the photos were “incredibly powerful” and it shows that he is appreciating the work of a fellow photographer. Also, by him posting the article on Twitter it is now being shared to all of his own followers.

Screenshot by Krysten Massa. Photo Credit: Max Avdeev
Screenshot by Krysten Massa. Photo Credit: Max Avdeev

The photos do not have captions describing what is happening, instead there is a few paragraphs written about the story of where these photos are from and then they are displayed like a gallery.

I do not think that strong photos like this need captions. In this photo you can see the soldier walking with his head down and dead bodies on the ground surrounding him. The only critique I have is that I think by including captions it would add to the story. If he had gotten a quote from the man walking and named who he was it may have made this a little stronger.

This article was a really great demonstration of how photos can be used to tell a story and also a good story for BuzzFeed to have done.

Tumblr isn’t a form of social media that we have talked about, but I noticed that this story was also being shared there. I think it says something for how powerful photos can be if this story is being shared through all different types of media.