What The Hell Happened In East New York?

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Kevin Heldman is an award-winning journalist. He's reported from such places as a psychiatric hospital, a Japanese prison, a London homeless shelter, Albania and Afghanistan. East New York is, by far, the worst neighborhood in New York City, among the worst in the nation, and has been for quite some time. Kevin tried to report out why.

Then something happened.

This is What The Hell Happened In East New York?, a co-production with The Big Roundtable that seeks to answer that question in two parts. The first is a four-episode podcast that chronicles Kevin as he unravels the issues with East New York, and ultimately, himself. The second, available on Friday, is Kevin's exhaustive investigation into why East New York is the way it is.


'What The Hell Happened In East New York?'

Episode 1: 'Obsession'

Running time: 15:35


For 25 years one neighborhood has remained New York's most crime ridden, most polluted, most neglected, most hopeless — cut off from Brooklyn's emergence as the hippest place on earth. Award-winning journalist Kevin Heldman wants to know why.

'I can't just do fun stuff in Journalism'

Episode 2: 'Religion'



Kevin Heldman grew up next to East New York. His journey since has been anything but easy — a troubled youth, an army stint, a flourishing journalism career all but abandoned in the wake of a tragic death. Then he rediscovered his calling, not far from where he once played in the city dump.

'It's not a ghetto. It needs a new term'

Episode 3: 'Outrage'



The mystery of how so much danger and despair can afflict one neighborhood gives way to Kevin's growing anger, as he walks the streets and pours through statistics trying to make sense of the place that obsesses him.

'It's a prison'

Episode 4: 'Escape'



Kevin's long journey comes to end. But does that mean that he has found answers? Or does the story and fate of East New York defy clarity?

kevin's final investigation

Feature Story: 'Broken'


 Anna Hiatt

Civic leaders want to fix East New York? Do they know what they're up against? 

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