On The Media
On The Media

Our weekly podcast explores how the media 'sausage' is made, casts an incisive eye on fluctuations in the marketplace of ideas, and examines threats to the freedom of information and expression in America and abroad. For one hour a week, the show tries to lift the veil from the process of "making media," especially news media, because it's through that lens that we see the world and the world sees us

Airs on:
SUN 2pm-3pm, MON 12am-1am
50 min

Boiling Point

Protestors are expressing outrage over police brutality while the president is threatening violence against them on Twitter. We follow how this latest chapter of unrest follows generations of pain, and how the Karen meme is shedding light on racism and entitlement during the pandemic. Plus: how do we get to a better place? And, Bob examines Twitter's efforts to address Trump's use of the platform. 1. Apryl Williams [@AprylW] of the University of Michigan examines the Karen meme and what it tells us about criticism of privilege in the pandemic. Listen here.  2. Jessie Daniels [@JessieNYC] of the CUNY Graduate Center on the history of white women in racial dynamics. Listen here.  3. Kara Swisher [@karaswisher] of Record Decode discusses Twitter's efforts this week, and attorney Bradley Moss [@BradMossEsq] on why Trump can't be sued for his tweets. Listen here.
14 min

Chase Woodruff is angry and he thinks you should be too

As an On the Media listener, you follow the news - probably more so during this pandemic. And you will have noted articles filled with compassion for the families of those who have died, perhaps cynicism in the coverage of politicians’ motives and a ton of data analysis to interpret the numbers we’re bombarded with.  Chase Woodruff, a journalist who was recently laid off from his alt-weekly job in Denver, Colorado thinks that’s all fine...but not enough. What’s missing from the media’s content checklist, he says, is anger. In an essay on the place of righteous indignation as a staple of the alt-weekly world he once inhabited, he wrote about his fears that as the so-called "rude press" die off at an even more rapid pace than dailies, vital outlets for resistance and emotion will be lost too.
50 min

Mourning in America

As the Covid-19 death toll continues to climb, many Americans are struggling to mourn in the middle of an ongoing tragedy. This week, On the Media examines how ambitious obituary campaigns may allow our fractured country to grieve together, and help future generations tell the story of our chaotic moment. Plus, why stifled press coverage may have erased the 1918 flu from our collective memory.  1. Terry Parris Jr. [@terryparrisjr], engagement editor at THE CITY, on the importance and challenge of building a citywide obituary archive for New York. Listen. 2. Janice Hume, author of Obituaries in American Culture, on the how obituaries will help historians make sense of our pandemic. Listen. 3. Colin Dickey [@colindickey], author of Ghostland & The Unidentified, on national grieving in a time of hyper-partisanship. Listen. 4. John Barry [@johnmbarry], author of The Great Influenza, on how the 1918 pandemic vanished from our collective memory. Listen.
20 min

Brooke speaks with "Mrs. America" creator Dahvi Waller

"Mrs. America," now streaming on Hulu, depicts the near-passage of the Equal Rights Amendment in the 1970s and portrays the preeminent voice of the opposition, Phyllis Schlafly. Brooke spoke with the show's creator and executive producer, Dahvi Waller, about what drew her to the era and what lessons she takes from that contentious decade.
50 min

Communication Breakdown

In this episode, a tale of two cities. It turns out there’s a literal playbook for communications during an epidemic. Seattle followed it. New York didn’t. And, how incomplete information from leaders has created room for conspiracies to flourish — and what we can do about them.  1. Phil McCausland [@PhilMcCausland], NBC News reporter, on how, absent federal data and directives about coronavirus, civilians in the American heartland are being left largely in the dark about the severity of their circumstances. Listen. 2. Charles Duhigg [@cduhigg], host of How To! With Charles Duhigg, on how Seattle and NYC's communications strategies following their Covid-19 outbreaks differed so widely — and what we can learn from the results. Listen. 3. Daily Beast reporter Kelly Weill [@KELLYWEILL] on how Covid-19 disinformation may be leading some Americans to other dangerous conspiracy theories like QAnon. And, Atlantic staff writer Joe Pinsker [@jpinsk] on how to cautiously confront friends and family who may be in the early stages of a conspiracy theory kick. Listen. Music from this week's show:Zoe Keating - The Last BirdFour Tet - Two thousand and SeventeenJohn Renbourne - Passing TimeThe Bad Plus - Time After Time
17 min

Are Online Courts Less Fair?

The pandemic has forced even the most technophobic online. After refusing for years, the Supreme Court is now hearing oral arguments over the phone and live streaming them, an initiative that — aside from the awkwardness that comes with conference calls — seems to be going well. On May 12, the public was able to tune in to hear arguments about whether or not the president's tax returns should be released. Advocates for online courts cite low costs and efficiency. But in some cases, online courts can prove less fair than the courthouses people have historically visited in person. Public defenders say that they can't do their jobs online, and not all of their clients even have internet access, let alone a smartphone. Some research suggests that at hearings conducted by video, asylum applicants are twice as likely to be denied asylum and defendants are more likely to be deported. Douglas Keith is counsel in the Democracy Program at The Brennan Center for Justice at New York University Law School. Keith says that if online courts are the future of justice, we need to set better guidelines to make sure they're fair.
51 min

No News Is Bad News

The news breaking every day and every minute makes it possible to miss the local news drought advancing all around us. Hundreds of papers have closed and tens of thousands of reporting jobs have been cut to satisfy a starving bottom line. On this week’s On The Media: the local news business, at the intersection of transformation and annihilation. 1. Penny Abernathy [@businessofnews], Knight Chair in Journalism and Digital Media Economics at the University of North Carolina, on America's "local news deserts." Listen. 2. Bob [@Bobosphere], on the rise and fall of the ad revenue–supported newspaper business model, with Cynthia B. Meyers [@AnneHummert], Craig Forman [@cforman], Jeff Jarvis [@jeffjarvis], and Siva Vaidhyanathan [@sivavaid]. Listen. 3. Rachel Dissell [@RachelDissell], investigative reporter, spoke to us on April 21 about what her sudden joblessness means for her beat and her community. Listen. 4. Steven Waldman [@stevenwaldman], president and co-founder of Report For America, on his efforts to funnel non-profit money into much-needed reporting jobs across the country. Listen.   Music from the show: Newsreel - Randy Newman / Cello Song - Nick Drake Death Have Mercy/BreakAway - Regina Carter I Moaned and Moaned - Regina Carter Totem Ancestor - Kronos Liquid Spear Waltz - Michael Andrews Tribute to America (Medley)- The O’Neill Brothers A Ride with Polly Jean- Jenny Scheinman
15 min

Waiting For a Game-Changer

Over the past few weeks, the public has been introduced — by way of Gilead Science, and a leaked video of doctors discussing their preliminary trial data — to a new potential therapy for Covid-19. Remdesivir, a broad-spectrum antiviral medication, was cleared by the FDA this week to treat severely ill Covid-19 patients, despite limited preliminary results from a handful of clinical trials. Some in the media initially touted the drug as a potential miracle cure. But as the mounting pressure to cope with an increasingly dire pandemic makes anything less than a silver bullet difficult to swallow, Derek Lowe, the organic chemist behind the science blog In the Pipeline, urges caution. He speaks with Bob about how to report on the so-called "game changer" drugs, and where he believes reporting on the "race for a cure" falls short.