The Peabody Award-winning On the Media podcast is your guide to examining how the media sausage is made. Hosts Brooke Gladstone and Bob Garfield examine threats to free speech and government transparency, cast a skeptical eye on media coverage of the week’s big stories and unravel hidden political narratives in everything we read, watch and hear.
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How the School Transmission Conversation Became So Muddled
Over the past 10 months, debates have raged over how to keep the coronavirus in check. What to open? What to close? Where does the virus spread, and where are we relatively safe? Through it all, one kind of space in particular has been the subject of vigorous debate — and, starting a few months into the virus, a kind of unexpected conventional wisdom emerged: that schools were relatively safe. In the midst of the darkness, it brought some welcome light: kids are safe! They can go to school! While other institutions closed, countries around the world — particularly in Europe and the UK — kept their schools open.
And yet, in response to rising rates and a new, more contagious variant, many of those same countries have since closed their school doors. It turns out that, if you believe the epidemiologists, schools do, in fact, bring risk of transmission. How could we ever have thought otherwise? Rachel Cohen has been covering the debates around school closings and openings, most recently at The Intercept. In this week's podcast extra, she tells Brooke about how the school transmission narrative has evolved since the beginning of the pandemic, and how our understand of the issue came to be so muddled.
Breaking the Myth
On this week’s On The Media, journalists struggle to find the words to describe what happened at the capitol on Wednesday. Was it a riot? A mob? An insurrection? Plus, why supporters of the president’s baseless election fraud theories keep invoking the “lost cause” myth of the confederacy. And, taking a second look at "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down."
1. Brooke [@OTMBrooke] and Bob [@bobosphere] on the events at the Capitol on Wednesday. Listen.
2. Caroline Janney [@CarrieJanney], historian of the Civil War at University of Virginia, on the evolution of the post-Civil War Lost Cause mythology. Listen.
3. Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw [@sandylocks], professor of law at UCLA and Columbia Law School, on how post-Civil War appeasement allowed for the perpetuation of white supremacy in the United States. Listen.
4. Jack Hamilton [@jack_hamilton], associate professor of American studies and media studies at the University of Virginia, on the mixed and missed messages in the rock anthem "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down" by The Band. Listen.
Music from this week's show:Invitation to a Suicide — John ZornSneaky Adventure — Kevin MacLeodGlass House/Curtains — David BergeaudThe Last Bird — Zoe KeatingLost, Night — Bill FrisellUsing the Apostate Tyrant as His Tool — Kronos QuartetThe Night They Drove Ol' Dixie Down — The BandThe Night They Drove Ol' Dixie Down — Richie Havens
The World, Remade
With vaccinations underway, we’re edging closer and closer to the end of the pandemic. This week, On The Media looks at how the pandemic has shaped what’s possible for the future — from the built environment to the way we work to the way we learn.
1. Sam Kling [@SamKling2], American Council of Learned Societies public fellow, on whether cities like New York were bound to become hubs for disease. Listen.
2. Vanessa Chang [@vxchang], lecturer at California College of the Arts, explains how pandemics of the past have been instrumental in shaping architecture; Mik Scarlet [@MikScarlet] delineates the social model of disability; and Sara Hendren [@ablerism], author of What Can A Body Do?: How We Meet the Built World, describes how the wisdom of people with disabilities can inform the redesign our post-pandemic world. Listen.
3. OTM reporter Micah Loewinger [@micahloewinger] tells the story of how distance learning saved his friend's life. Listen.
A Brief History of Timekeeping
We spend our lives bound to a clock and calendar that tell us what to do and what to expect. But now, millions of Americans are newly jobless, untethered from structure and predictability. Hundreds of of thousands fight a virus that could cut their time on earth dramatically short. And all of us wait out a life-stoppage of unknown duration. And so, we may find ourselves outside of time. Passing it, but no longer marking it. Anthony F. Aveni, professor emeritus of astronomy, anthropology, and Native American studies at Colgate University, says that to understand our current time consciousness, we have to return to a land before time — or at least, time as we know it. Aveni and Bob talk about the history of timekeeping, and how we might find our orientation during this collective time-out.
This is a segment from our April 24th, 2020 program, On Matters of Time and Space.
What Just Happened?!
The new year approaches, marking an end to a truly unexpected trip around the sun. This week, On the Media reflects on our 2020 coverage, from the pandemic to the global uprising to the rise of the anti-majoritarian right.
With excerpts from:
The Virality of Virality, January 31, 2020
Epidemic Voyeurs No More, February 28, 2020
Infectious Diseases Show Societies Who They Really Are, March 6, 2020
Why The Toilet Paper Shortage Makes More Sense Than You Think, April 10, 2020
Is The Pandemic Making Us Numb To One Another's Pain?, December 11, 2020
Is This 'Unrest' or an 'Uprising'?, June 5, 2020
Why Activists Are Demanding That Cities "Defund the Police", June 12, 2020
Movements, Sanitized In Hindsight, June 19, 2020
Imprecision 2020, November 5, 2020
They Prepared for War With Antifa. Antifa Never Came., June 12, 2020
With #SaveTheChildren Rallies, QAnon Sneaks Into The Offline World, August 26, 2020
The Ancient Heresy That Helps Us Understand QAnon, November 20, 2020
The Right's Long History of Ignoring the Will of the People, November 6, 2020
Against Democracy, October 9, 2020
Unlearning White Jesus
In a time where monuments are being toppled, institutions and icons reconsidered, we turn to a portrait encountered by every American: "White Jesus." You know, that guy with sandy blond hair and upcast blue eyes. For On the Media, Eloise Blondiau traces the history of how the historically inaccurate image became canon, and why it matters.
In this segment, Eloise talks to Mbiyu Chui, pastor at the Shrine of the Black Madonna in Detroit, about unlearning Jesus's whiteness. She also hears from Edward Blum, author of The Color of Christ: The Son of God and the Saga of Race in America, about how the image came dominate in the U.S., and psychologist Simon Howard on how White Jesus has infiltrated our subconsciouses. Lastly, Eloise speaks to Rev. Kelly Brown Douglas, womanist theologian and Dean of the Episcopal Divinity School at Union Theological Seminary, about the theology of the Black Christ.
This is a segment from our October 1st, 2020 program, God Bless.
Customer ReviewsSee All
I grok it
Always informative, always lucid. But I swear, half the appeal is hearing Gladstone consistently use the verb ‘grok’. Gladstone for President of Mars.
My go to source since 2001
At its best when it analyzes coverage of other media.