All posts by Ben Brody

About Ben Brody

Ben Brody is a New York City-based freelance journalist and writer for Ad Age. He has previous worked for CNNMoney as well as Westchester Magazine and 914INC., where he was associate editor.

Brody Data Viz — Brooklyn’s Youth Makes It Uninsured

Percent of Civilian, Non-Institutionalized People With No Health Insurance

The home page of the healthcare.gov website that Americans can now (mostly) use to sign up for insurance under the Affordable Care Act offers a catchall drop-down menu on “All Topics” near its top. The menu contains an introduction to the act’s insurance marketplace, explanations of rights and other information. There are also links to pages for two types of insurance customers. One page is for businesses. The other is for young people.

According to Kenneth Gould, a professor of sociology at Brooklyn College, that’s no accident.

“In the United Stated, we now have this extended adolescence that lasts until you’re 40,” Gould, who has studied gentrification in New York City by younger residents, said. “The settling down and getting your health insurance and getting a will is happening later and later for people.”

Gould said that trend helps explains the map above, which plots health insurance coverage rates in New York City Congressional districts in 2012, the eve of the the health law’s rollout.

He was talking specifically about that spring-leaf green slice of northwest Brooklyn and the Lower East of Manhattan, the one outlined in yellow.

That’s New York’s 7th Congressional district. It sports the second-darkest green on the map — meaning that, according to the Census’s American Community Survey, the district had the second-lowest percentage of residents with health insurance, either public or private, of any district in the city, at 82.9 percent. Yet the 7th doesn’t fit the demographic profile of what we often, usually for good reason, think of as defining a less-insured district. Unlike residents of the darkest district, the 14th in northern Queens and the east Bronx, those in 7th have high median incomes. And aside from a few area, the district doesn’t have huge pockets of immigrants. In fact, it boasts neighborhoods where median incomes and property values have soared over the last decade — Manhattan’s Lower East Side, Brooklyn Heights, DUMBO, Park Slope and Fort Greene — as well as rapidly gentrifying areas like Williamsburg and Red Hook.

Instead, as Gould points out, the 7th is just young.

Gould said that, since 2000, the neighborhoods in the district have seen a tremendous influx of “white, college-educated young professionals and the creative class, 20-somethings and early-30-somethings.”

(In fact, as the map below shows, the 7th is the second-youngest district in the city as well if you measure by residents’ median age.)

In another era, the young residents of the 7th might have received insurance through jobs.

Now, though, Gould said, “they tend to be in non-traditional jobs,” like part-time or freelance work in creative fields, that don’t always offer insurance but do generate enough income that residents no longer qualify for Medicare.

“Let’s face it,” Gould said, “everybody’s office is Starbucks now.”

Percent of Employed, Civilian, Non-Institutionalized People Over 18 With No Health Insurance

Indeed, as this map shows, even among those whom the Census considers to be employed, coverage rates are low in the 7th, with only three-quarters of the civilian, non-institutionalized employed population over age 18 covered.

Gould pointed out that, of course, that still leaves room for lots of people who have insurance, often through traditional jobs. Yet he said there are enough freelance graphic designers to set the 7th apart from districts where 85 or 90 percent of residents have coverage.

“The stereotype is true enough and the transition has been enough to give you the” difference between districts, he said.

He said we can’t be sure that age is the only factor, especially with such macro-level data. (His colleague, Jerry Krase, argued, for instance, that the presence of a good number of public housing projects in the 7th affects the numbers greatly too.)

“But is it a reasonable hypothesis?” Gould asked rhetorically. “Yeah, I think so.”

Ben Brody Portfolio

Hey all,

My site is at ben-brody.com.

I think right now it’s biggest weakness is the theme’s age. I set up my site two years ago, and theme’s are just sleeker and more functional than they were when I set it up. I think I’ve been able to improve it — a contact form through Jetpack, a tweet widget on the side of posts, my CV, etc. It is, however, responsive. So that’s a plus. I was initially going to find a new theme, but as I looked, I couldn’t find one that was as simple as I wanted — partially because I’m not hosting on the CUNY site, so I don’t have access to as many — but I also have put in a lot of custom formatting on this, such as dropcaps, that I wasn’t sure I was ready to lose.

Full disclosure: I didn’t design that logo. I was going to design a new one, but I can’t find where the logo’s buried to replace it or find its dimensions.

My strength, however, is that I think it’s navigable and simple. A lot of black and white. A fair amount of air. Responsive, as I said. A good number of menu options at the top with a tag cloud high up and lots of access to my About page. I also like that it has a lot of work on it, stuff from way back in college, so really a couple year’s worth of on-and-off journalism.

King of Kingsbridge (Brody Photo Essay)

On January 8, 1961, 17-year-old Fredy Loeser and his father opened Loeser’s Kosher Deli with money Fredy had saved from his bar mitzvah. His father, a professional chef, had long wanted a store of his own, but had failed in previous ventures. At the time, the store — on 231st St., just a half block off Broadway, in the Kingsbridge section of the Bronx — was in a section of the Bronx that was “Italian, Jewish and Irish,” according to Fredy Loeser.

Today, the area is predominantly African American and Latino, but Loeser’s is still going strong, the oldest kosher deli in the Bronx, and one of only two remaining. In recent years, Loeser has passed 50 years in business, been read into the Congressional Record, and had his pastrami sandwich named the best in the city. His store continues to look like a deli from the 1960s.

16 October 2013 - Bronx, NY. Loeser's, on 231st St. in the Kingsbridge section of the Bronx, is the oldest of only two remaining kosher delis in the borough. 10/16/13 - Photograph by BEN BRODY/CUNY Journalism Photo
16 October 2013 – Bronx, NY. Loeser’s, on 231st St. in the Kingsbridge section of the Bronx, is the oldest of only two remaining kosher delis in the borough. 10/16/13 – Photograph by BEN BRODY/CUNY Journalism Photo
12 October 2013 - Bronx, NY. Fredy Loeser opened the deli with his father, who had worked as a chef at the Waldorf, in January 1961. He refers to himself as a "tough bastard." 10/12/13 - Photograph by BEN BRODY/CUNY Journalism Photo
12 October 2013 – Bronx, NY. Fredy Loeser opened the deli with his father, who had worked as a chef at the Waldorf, in January 1961. He refers to himself as a “tough bastard.” 10/12/13 – Photograph by BEN BRODY/CUNY Journalism Photo
12 October 2013 - Bronx, NY. Seen here in the deli case, Fredy Loeser's pastrami was named the best in the city by the New York Daily News in 2011. 10/12/13 - Photograph by BEN BRODY/CUNY Journalism Photo
12 October 2013 – Bronx, NY. Seen here in the deli case, Fredy Loeser’s pastrami was named the best in the city by the New York Daily News in 2011. 10/12/13 – Photograph by BEN BRODY/CUNY Journalism Photo
12 October 2013 - Bronx, NY. The walls of Loeser's are bare bones, but they feature numerous articles, plaques, celebrity diners and other honors from its 52-year history. 10/12/13 - Photograph by BEN BRODY/CUNY Journalism Photo
12 October 2013 – Bronx, NY. The walls of Loeser’s are bare bones, but they feature numerous articles, plaques, celebrity diners and other honors from its 52-year history. 10/12/13 – Photograph by BEN BRODY/CUNY Journalism Photo
12 October 2013 - Bronx, NY. Despite his quiet, Loeser says courtesy towards customers is one of the keys to his success, and he knows many of his customers' name. 10/12/13 - Photograph by BEN BRODY/CUNY Journalism Photo
12 October 2013 – Bronx, NY. Despite his quiet, Loeser says courtesy towards customers is one of the keys to his success, and he knows many of his customers’ name. 10/12/13 – Photograph by BEN BRODY/CUNY Journalism Photo
12 October 2013 - Bronx, NY. Loeser serves his famed pastrami sandwich on a paper place mat with a list of the presidents and a plastic plate. 10/12/13 - Photograph by BEN BRODY/CUNY Journalism Photo
12 October 2013 – Bronx, NY. Loeser serves his famed pastrami sandwich on a paper place mat with a list of the presidents and a plastic plate. 10/12/13 – Photograph by BEN BRODY/CUNY Journalism Photo
12 October 2013 - Bronx, NY. Loeser's partners with Hebrew National for much of his products, including hot dogs. 10/12/13 - Photograph by BEN BRODY/CUNY Journalism Photo
12 October 2013 – Bronx, NY. Loeser’s partners with Hebrew National for much of his products, including hot dogs. 10/12/13 – Photograph by BEN BRODY/CUNY Journalism Photo
12 October 2013 - Bronx, NY. Other signs at Loeser's advertise "Jewish Penicillin" (matzo ball soup) or commemorate the store's 50th anniversary in 2011. 10/12/13 - Photograph by BEN BRODY/CUNY Journalism Photo
12 October 2013 – Bronx, NY. Other signs at Loeser’s advertise “Jewish Penicillin” (matzo ball soup) or commemorate the store’s 50th anniversary in 2011. 10/12/13 – Photograph by BEN BRODY/CUNY Journalism Photo
12 October 2013 - Bronx, NY. Loeser was honored on his 50th anniversary in 2011 and presented with this plaque by Rep. Eliot Engel. 10/12/13 - Photograph by BEN BRODY/CUNY Journalism Photo
12 October 2013 – Bronx, NY. Loeser was honored on his 50th anniversary in 2011 and presented with this plaque by Rep. Eliot Engel. 10/12/13 – Photograph by BEN BRODY/CUNY Journalism Photo
12 October 2013 - Bronx, NY. When the Loesers opened their deli, the neighborhood was "Italian, Jewish, and Irish," according to Fredy Loeser. Today, it is mostly African American and Latino. 10/12/13 - Photograph by BEN BRODY/CUNY Journalism Photo
12 October 2013 – Bronx, NY. When the Loesers opened their deli, the neighborhood was “Italian, Jewish, and Irish,” according to Fredy Loeser. Today, it is mostly African American and Latino. 10/12/13 – Photograph by BEN BRODY/CUNY Journalism Photo
12 October 2013 - Bronx, NY. A frequent sight at Loeser's: an empty plate. 10/12/13 - Photograph by BEN BRODY/CUNY Journalism Photo
12 October 2013 – Bronx, NY. A frequent sight at Loeser’s: an empty plate. 10/12/13 – Photograph by BEN BRODY/CUNY Journalism Photo

Brody Low-Res Rough-Cut Photo Essay

So. Here’s a rough cut of my photo essay. I ran into some real problems pulling it off. After all the negotiations over a week and a half (and being very clear and forthright about what I needed and getting what I thought was buy-in), the owner only let me in when there were almost no customers, wouldn’t let me shoot the food or the kitchen area or him and then kicked me out after an hour and a half. And I don’t mean, “Hey… Don’t you think you have what you need?” I mean he told me to leave and (even though I kept my cool and was totally polite about it) suggested that my professor and classmates go perform sexual acts with themselves. It was almost as bad as the shutdown negotiations.

Anyway. I did my best to make lemonade out of lemons — I took a lot of pictures of the dining area and focused the topic onto the store itself. I sneaked pictures of the food “in situ.” I went outside to take pictures of the neighborhood so I could bring in that “things change but things stay the same” element I wanted.

So here’s what I’ve got. I still need an establishing shot. Aside from the narrowness of the sidewalk (which means standing in the street to get a wide shot of the entrance), that shouldn’t be a problem. I also think I can get in long enough to get one more close shot to go between the shot of the menu board and the shot with the bus reflection in the window towards the end.

I think I could probably get one or two more shots of other kinds, but the point is that I would need to know what I was going for. I would need to be tactical (or else find them in the shots I didn’t select). So. Thoughts? Other things needed? A new ordering scheme?

Lay it on me.

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Assignment #1 (Ben)

This image is pretty hard to get out of my mind. The caption: “As fellow troopers aid wounded buddies, a paratrooper of A Company, 101st Airborne, guides a medical evacuation helicopter through the jungle foliage to pick up casualties during a five-day patrol of an area southwest of Hue, South Vietnam, April 1968.”

I have to admit that, despite really loving war photography, I’ve never seen this photo. It seems to be pretty famous — it will be featured on the cover of a forthcoming AP book of Vietnam-era photos — but I tend to think of the Pulitzers that came out of the war, like Eddie Adams’ photo of the execution of a Viet Cong Prisoner or Malcolm Browne’s photo of the monk burning himself in protest of the South Vietnamese government. But in its own quiet way, this image has much of that power. No one is clearly dying, as in those photos, but the reaching, the suffering, the hope — talk about peak action. There’s also the symbolism of the light on top and dark at the bottom, and the rich textures in the grass. This photo gets at all those same issues of those other photos I mentioned and, since Greenspon had about a split second more, the picture is frankly better framed and better exposed than those.

I also like this photo a lot (which may or may not load depending on your NYT subscription). It’s firefighters trying to combat a car fire on the Syrian-Turkish border. I like the layers a lot, the way the smoke is the in the background (and top two-thirds) of the photo, pervading the scene and threatening to take over and overwhelm everyone, the way smoke really does. I like the hard line of the water and hose and the faces. I like the relative monochromatic-ness (?) of the right side, and then the orange and red splotches on the left, almost as if that man were himself on fire.

Finally, I just love the intimacy of this photo of a Syrian refugee. It’s a very close crop, and so we feel even more intimate with the subject than we might otherwise. His humanity, his story, leap out from the picture as a result. The use of very narrow depth of field achieves the same effect, highlighting the scar he received when he was injured in Syria. It becomes a focal point (though, tastefully, it doesn’t become the only focal point) and really just drives home what’s going on. I think it’s a great image.