The Peabody Award-winning On the Media podcast is your guide to examining how the media sausage is made. Host Brooke Gladstone examines 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.
Again and Again
In the wake of yet another racist mass shooting, this time in Buffalo, New York, media outlets are churning out heartbreakingly familiar stories, with the same tropes and the same helplessness. On this week's On the Media, how we've become mired in patterns and lost sight of the potential solutions. Plus, how journalists should cover the ongoing siege on democracy. Then, a deep dive into the forgotten legacy of one of America's most influential writers.
1. Brooke Gladstone [@OTMBrooke], OTM host, on the tropes that choke coverage of every mass shooting, and why we should focus on consequences and the 'rot at the root.' Listen.
2. Jay Rosen [@jayrosen_nyu], professor of journalism at New York University and media critic for PressThink, on why journalists should still be in "emergency mode." Listen.
3. Paul Auster, acclaimed novelist and author of Burning Boy: The Life and Work of Stephen Crane, on the 19th century writer's forgotten legacy. Listen.
White Man Sleeps by The Kronos QuartetFergus River Roundelay by Gerry O’BeirneMiddlesex Times by Michael AndrewsA Ride with Polly Jean by Jenny ScheinmanCellar Door by Michael Andrews
Where in the World is Brooke?
This week we're airing an interview that Brooke did while on a fellowship at the American Academy in Rome. She and her husband Fred Kaplan (author of the War Stories column in Slate), sat down with Mark Hannah, host of the podcast "None of the Above," produced by the Eurasia Group Foundation.
From the Crimean War of 1853 to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine this year, journalists, reporters, and the media have shaped the public’s understanding of war. But do the stories we read and the photos we see provide an impartial picture of the wars they document? As Hannah recently explained in Foreign Policy, certain aspects of American war coverage—reliance on government sources and incentives to simplify geopolitics as battles between good and evil—have long compelled news organizations to tilt toward military action.
Seeing Is Believing
With Roe v Wade under threat, some politicians and media outlets are trying to turn the national conversation away from abortion and toward civility. On this week’s On the Media, how the GOP has mastered the art of setting the narrative. Plus, how moral panics surrounding dangerous TikTok trends follow a century-old pattern of blaming new technology for the deviant behavior of teenagers.
1. Paul Waldman [@paulwaldman1], opinion writer for the Washington Post, on Republicans decrying the draft opinion leak and protests to motivate their base ahead of the midterms. Listen.
2. Micah Loewinger [@MicahLoewinger], OTM correspondent, on alarmist news coverage of TikTok challenges and its misleading influence on panicked parents. Listen.
3. Brandy Zadrozny [@BrandyZadrozny], senior reporter for NBC News, on the story of Tiffany Dover, and how misinformation about her death fueled anti-vax messaging. Listen.
Fallen Leaves by Marcos Ciscar
The Camping Store by Clive Carroll and John Renbourn
Coffee Cold by Galt MacDermot
Middlesex Times by Michael Andrews
How the Depp v. Heard Trial Became a Meme
This week, we take a look at the latest celebrity trial to ensnare the national attention. Johnny Depp is suing Amber Heard, his ex-wife, for defamation, and she’s counter suing him for the same. Depp’s suit takes issue with an op-ed Heard wrote back in 2018 for the Washington Post in which she identifies herself as a survivor of domestic violence. She first came forward with allegations against Depp in 2016. In 2018, Depp sued British tabloid, The Sun, for defamation over headlines that accused him of abuse, but he lost that case. Given the history, you might expect to see fewer headlines over this latest trial. But, not so. The ratings for Court TV, which is broadcasting every moment of the trial, have more than doubled. Pair the live visuals with Depp’s rabid online fanbase, and you’ve got a case being watched billions of times over — in fact, the #JusticeforJohnnyDepp hashtag has upwards of 10 billion views on TikTok and it’s spawned several viral sounds and trends and … comedy sketches. Guest host Brandy Zadrozny asks EJ Dickson, senior writer for Rolling Stone, about how pro-Depp coverage of the case took over TikTok, and its consequences.
Crime and Punishment
Across news outlets, crime reporting often relies on police sources and incomplete data. On this week’s show, hear how to spot bias in crime stories and what more nuanced coverage looks like. And, the struggle to protect whistleblowers calling out police abuse. Plus, the story of one powerful tabloid that has stymied bail reform for decades.
1. Laura Bennett, the co-author of “Freedom, Then the Press: New York Media and Bail Reform,” on how to read a crime story. Listen.
2. Matt Katz [@mattkatz00] WNYC reporter, on what bad coverage of bail reform looks like. Listen.
3. Tom Devine, legal director of the Government Accountability Project, on how to protect whistleblowers on police misconduct. Listen.
4. Tauhid Chappell [@TauhidChappell], Philadelphia Project Manager for Free Press, on abolishing the crime beat. Listen.
The Abortion Underground
This week, OTM presents a story from our colleagues at The Experiment. There’s a common story about abortion in this country, that people have only two options to intentionally end a pregnancy: the clinic or the coat hanger. They can choose the safe route that’s protected by Roe v. Wade—a doctor in a legal clinic—or, if Roe is overturned, endure a dangerous back-alley abortion, symbolized by the coat hanger. But a close look at the history of abortion in this country shows that there’s much more to this story. As a draft of the majority opinion overruling Roe v. Wade was leaked to the media this week, activists are once again preparing to take abortion into their own hands.
Reporter Jessica Bruder explores the abortion underground to learn about the movement’s origins, and reveals how activists today are mobilizing around effective and medically safe abortion methods that can be done at home.
A transcript of this episode is available.
Further reading: “A Covert Network of Activists Is Preparing for the End of Roe”
Love this show!
Always informative and insightful.
Increasingly not “On the Media”
Unfortunately the show is increasingly featuring other WNYC programs. If you don’t have the content to publish twice weekly, don’t publish twice weekly.
Once great, now needs a new identity
OTM used to be a weekly must-listen, now some or all of the shows regularly recycle content from previous episodes, coincidentally starting around the same time the co-host left. They must not have the bandwidth or capacity to regularly produce original content, anymore. The show needs a new co-host or to change its format. Now it’s just re-runs.