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.
WNYC Studios is a listener-supported producer of other leading podcasts including Radiolab, Snap Judgment, Death, Sex & Money, Nancy and Here’s the Thing with Alec Baldwin.
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You Better Work!
From the Johnson & Johnson pause to talk of “break-through cases” among the already-vaccinated, we’re facing an onslaught of dispiriting and confusing vaccine news. On this week’s On The Media, a guide to separating the facts from the noise. Plus, why pro-labor journalists got the story of an Amazon warehouse union drive so wrong. And, how media coverage of labor movements has morphed over the past century.
1. Nsikan Akpan [@MoNscience], health and science editor at WNYC, and Kai Kupferschmidt [@kakape], contributing correspondent at Science Magazine, on how best to consume the non-stop vaccine news. Listen.
2. Jane McAlevey [@rsgexp], labor organizer and senior policy fellow at the University of California at Berkeley’s Labor Center, on how the mood in Bessemer, Alabama turned from optimism to defeat. Listen.
3. Chris Martin [@chrismartin100], professor of digital journalism at the University of Northern Iowa, on the historical devolution of the labor beat. Listen.
Music from this week's show:
Fallen Leaves - Marcos Ciscar
Let’s Face The Music & Dance - Harry Roy & His Orchestra
On the Inside Looking Out
The past year most of us were awash in a news cycle driven by the pandemic. Daily we grappled with infection data, vaccine updates, social restrictions, and public officials trying to balance fatigue, facts, and safety. But there are some in the country cut off from the deluge, offered instead, merely a trickle.
Obviously the American prison system wasn’t built with a pandemic in mind — with inadequate spacing for quarantine, cleaning supplies, and access to healthcare, but the pandemic has focused a brighter light on decades-old issues surrounding incarceration. Including access to information about news and policies that could be matters of life and death. John J. Lennon has been especially concerned, he’s written about prison life under Covid in the New York Times Magazine and he’s contributing writer for the Marshall Project, contributing editor at Esquire, and an adviser to the Prison Journalism Project. He’s also serving an aggregate sentence of 28 years to life at Sullivan Correctional Facility in New York. That accounts for the quality of the phone line when he spoke to Brooke this week.
With Congress set to consider bills next week that could set the future of Puerto Rican self-determination, we consider how a 70-year-old promise to decolonize the island keeps getting broken. Plus, how Puerto Ricans notched a hugely symbolic victory over the U.S. — during the 2004 Olympics.
1. Yarimar Bonilla [@yarimarbonilla], political anthropologist at Hunter College, examines the afterlife of Puerto Rico's political experiment. Listen.
2. Julio Ricardo Varela [@julito77], co-host of In the Thick and editorial director at Futuro Media, on what the showdown between the Puerto Rican and U.S. Olympic basketball teams in 2004 meant to him then and now. Listen.
We Insist by Zoe KeatingYUMAVISION by ÌFÉMalphino by Ototoa
La Brega is a podcast series hosted by OTM producer/reporter Alana Casanova-Burgess. The series uses narrative storytelling and investigative journalism to reflect and reveal how la brega has defined so many aspects of life in Puerto Rico, and is available in English and Spanish.
For over four years, Reveal, an award-winning program from the Center for Investigative Reporting, was embroiled in a multimillion-dollar libel suit. Planet Aid, a non-profit known for clothing collection, had sued the podcast over an intensive two-year investigation that "tied the charity to an alleged cult and raised significant questions about whether the funds from the U.S. and other governments actually were reaching the people they were intended to help." Two weeks ago, a judge in California dismissed the case. Here's the judge's full ruling.
Despite being a fairly straightforward SLAPP case—the case required dozens of reporter hours that took away from crucial reporting work—the newsroom only managed to stay afloat long enough to fight the suit because of generous pro-bono support. This week, Bob spoke to Victoria Baranetsky, general counsel at Reveal, about what small newsrooms stand to lose in court battles with wealthy public figures and organizations.
EDITOR'S NOTE: After publication, we were contacted by a PR firm representing Planet Aid. They took issue with our characterization of Reveal’s reporting on “abuse of US Foreign Aid by the charity and its subcontractors.” Although the Reveal series reported on Planet Aid’s use of grant money, following a two-year investigation, and the judge dismissed Planet Aid’s lawsuit with prejudice under California’s anti-SLAPP statute, we acknowledge, at the request of Planet Aid, that the judge also held in the recent ruling (full decision available above) that Planet Aid had demonstrated that a number of specific factual assertions made by the Center of Investigative Reporting were false. Planet Aid also asserted that it had reached out to the Center of Investigative Reporting prior to filing its lawsuit asking for a retraction and correction.
The End Of The Promises
La Brega is a seven-part podcast series hosted by OTM producer/reporter Alana Casanova-Burgess. The series uses narrative storytelling and investigative journalism to reflect and reveal how la brega has defined so many aspects of life in Puerto Rico, and is available in English and Spanish. This is episode seven.
Puerto Rico’s relationship with the United States has long been a subject of intense debate. In 1952, Puerto Rico adopted a new status that was meant to decolonize the island. In English, we call it a “Commonwealth.” In Spanish, it’s called “Estado Libre Asociado”, or ELA. Puerto Ricans were promised for decades that this unique status meant they had a special kind of sovereignty while maintaining ties to the US. Now, a series of recent crises on the island have led many to question that promise, and to use the word “colony” more and more. In this episode, political anthropologist and El Nuevo Día columnist Yarimar Bonilla looks for those who still believe in the ELA, and asks what happens when a political project dies.
You can get more resources for related issues at the Puerto Rico Syllabus website.
The View From Everywhere
The trial of the former police officer charged in the death of George Floyd has been broadcasting live all this week. This week, we examine what effect the cameras in the court can have on the verdict and on us, watching from home. Plus, how striving for the appearance of journalistic “objectivity” can make newsrooms less diverse, and how trauma informs journalism.
1. Steven Zeitchik [@ZeitchikWaPo], entertainment business reporter at the Washington Post, explains how Court TV became the world’s window into the Derek Chauvin trial. Listen.
2. Ishena Robinson [@ishenarobinson], staff writer at The Root, about the mounting toll of watching Black people lose their lives on camera. Listen.
3. Bruce Shapiro [@dartcenter], executive director of the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma at Columbia Journalism School, on why trauma shouldn't disqualify reporters from reporting on topics into which they have insight. Listen.
4. Ernest Owens [@mrernestowens], Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists president, about the double-standards facing journalists who have identities or lived experiences that are different from editors who still determine what constitutes "objectivity." Listen.
5. Steve Friess [@stevefriess], editor at Hour Detroit and contributor for Newsweek, looks back at how he covered gay marriage when his own marriage hung in the balance. Listen.
6. Lewis Raven Wallace [@lewispants], author of The View from Somewhere, on why what we call "neutrality" so often reflects the ideological assumptions of the status quo. Listen.
Music from this week's show:
Frail As a Breeze — Erik Friedlander The Artifact and the Living — Michael AndrewsNight Thoughts — John ZornFallen Leaves — Marcos CiscarMiddlesex Times — Michael Andrews Bubble Wrap — Thomas Newman Carmen Fantasy — Anderson + RowTribute to America — The O’Neill Brothers