The old US Steel building in Pittsburgh, PA is a black monolith, symbol and fortress of industrial power, soaring above the confluence of three mighty rivers. But its vista has changed. Gone is the golden, sulfurous haze. Gone are the belching smokestacks, blazing furnaces and slag-lined river valleys snaking along Appalachian foothills. The industry that sustained a region, girded the world's infrastructure and underwrote a now-vanished way of life has long since crossed oceans. Steel City is now Healthcare City, representing almost 1 in 4 jobs in the region. Some 92,000 of them work for just one employer, the sprawling, omnivorous University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, whose logo now adorns the black-skyscraper sentinel of the Three Rivers. But this is not just a case of a clean economy displacing a filthy one. To Gabriel Winant, author of The Next Shift: The Fall of Industry and the Rise of Health Care in Rust Belt America, the story of economic transformation in the Rust Belt is the story of disparity — of wealth, income and political power — that didn't vanish when the smokestacks came down. In this special hour, Winant tells Bob the real story behind the economic transformation that took place in the rust belt, and what it tells us about our economy, and our future, more broadly. Music from this week's show: Flugufrelsarinn — Kronos QuartetSteel Mill Blues — Joe GlazerLiquid Spear Waltz — Michael AndrewsSacred Oracle — John Zorn (feat. Bill Frisell, Carol Emanuel & Kenny Wollesen)Human Nature — Vijay IyerPittsburgh—Joe Glazer
Last Friday, the Department of Labor released its monthly jobs report, and the numbers were...disappointing. Expectations had rested around adding approximately a million jobs, and April yielded a meager 266,000. In a rare moment of genuine surprise in Washington, some economists said they didn't know the exact cause of the drop. But for weeks prior to the report, the press had offered stories across the country with a simple explanation: there are jobs, but no one wants them. The great labor shortage. And as anecdotes of fast food chains begging for workers and local restaurants limiting hours poured in, so did theories of an alleged culprit keeping potential employees away: covid-era unemployment benefits were depressing America's work ethic. Bob spoke with Heidi Shierholz, director of policy at the Economic Policy Institute, and former chief economist for the Department of Labor during the Obama administration, to find out what the numbers can really tell us, and what they can't.
There's a long history of campaigns to "save the children," whether they need saving or not. This week, On the Media looks at the latest: an effort to block access to medical care for trans kids. Plus, how years of Hollywood representation — from The Crying Game to Transparent — have shaped the public's ideas about trans people. 1. Katelyn Burns [@transscribe], freelance journalist and co-host of the "Cancel Me, Daddy!" podcast, on the the politics and propaganda behind the recent wave of anti-trans legislation, and Jack Turban [@jack_turban], fellow in child and adolescent psychiatry at Stanford University School of Medicine, on what the science tells us about gender affirming care in adolescence. Listen. 2. Jules Gill-Petersen [@gp_jls], professor of english and gender, sexuality, and women's studies at the University of Pittsburgh and author of Histories of the Transgender Child, on the long history of trans children. Listen. 3. Imara Jones [@imarajones], creator of TransLash media and host of the TransLash podcast, on how trans visibility paves the way toward trans liberation. Listen. 4. Sam Feder [@SamFederFilm], director of the Netflix documentary "Disclosure," on how Hollywood representations of trans lives have shaped the public understanding of who trans people are. Listen. Music: Prelude 7: Sign and Sigil - John Zorn Totem Ancestor - John Cage Blackbird - Brad Mehldau Harpsichord - Four Tet Peace Piece - Bill Evans - Kronos Quartet Black Is the Color / Theme from "Spartacus" - Fred Hersch After the Fact - John Scofield
Last Friday, remains of at least one victim of the infamous 1985 MOVE bombing were turned over to a Philadelphia funeral home, capping more than a week of confusion and re-opened wounds. MOVE members claim the remains were those of 14-year-old Tree Africa and 12-year-old Delisha Africa, among the five children and six adults killed 36 years ago this month after an anti-government, pro-environment, Black liberation group called MOVE defied arrest warrants and barricaded themselves in a West Philadelphia rowhouse. On May 13, 1985, C-4 explosives dropped on that home by Philadelphia police led to a fire that destroyed 61 homes in a predominantly Black neighborhood. Though consciousness of the bombing seems to have grown in recent years, when native Philadelphian and NPR correspondent Gene Demby reported on the 30th anniversary of the bombing back in 2015, he got a reaction he wasn't expecting: much of his audience hadn't heard of it before.
This week we take a close look at how the words we choose can unknowingly condemn people caught up in the criminal justice system. Plus, the costs and complications of working as a journalist while incarcerated. And, the overlooked, self-trained women journalists of the Vietnam War. 1. Brooke tracks the evolution of language in the early days of Biden's presidency. Listen. 2. Akiba Solomon [@akibasolomon], senior editor at The Marshall Project, explains how terms like "inmate" and "offender" can distract, dehumanize, and mislead, and why "people-first" language is more appropriate for journalists. Listen. 3. John J. Lennon [@johnjlennon1], contributing writer at The Marshall Project and contributing editor Esquire, tells us what it's like to read and report the news while inside prison. Listen. 4. Elizabeth Becker, author of You Don't Belong Here, on how women journalists covered the Vietnam War in groundbreaking ways, and yet were forgotten by history. Listen. Music from this week's show: Tilliboyo ("Sunset") — Kronos QuartetBewitched, Bothered and Bewildered — Brad Mehldau The Butterfly — The Bothy BandClonycavan Man — Gerry O'BeirneJohn's Book Of Alleged Dances — Kronos QuartetCarmen Fantasy — Anderson & Row
International Workers' Day is celebrated with rallies and protests all over the world on May 1, but it's not a big deal in the United States. Back in 2018 , Brooke spoke with Donna Haverty-Stacke of Hunter College, CUNY about the American origin of May Day — and about how it has come to be forgotten. The first national turnout for worker's rights in the U.S. was on May 1, 1886; contrary to what you may have heard elsewhere, it wasn't the same thing as the Haymarket Affair. Haverty-Stacke is also author of America's Forgotten Holiday: May Day and Nationalism, 1867–1960, and she explains that the fight over May 1, or May Day, is also about the fight for American identity and what it means to be radical and patriotic at the same time. The OTM crew (in 2018) sings "Into The Streets May First," a never-before-professionally-recorded 1935 Aaron Copland anthem:
A jury has found Derek Chauvin guilty in the case that sparked a historic wave of protests last summer. This week we examine how fears over those protests are being channeled into restrictive new legislation across the country. And, what it's like to drive the Mars rover from your childhood bedroom. Plus, a former child actor grapples with how his character defined him. 1. Tami Abdollah [@latams], national correspondent for USA Today, on how Republican-controlled legislatures across the country have been introducing bills to criminalize protests — or as they put it, to stop the rioting. Listen. 2. Brendan Chamberlain-Simon, a robotics technologist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, explains what it's like to live on Mars Time, and the questions that led him to space. Avi Loeb, Frank B. Baird, Jr., Professor of Science at Harvard University, makes a compelling case for intelligent life beyond Earth. Listen. 3. OTM Reporter Micah Loewinger [@micahloewinger] presents the case of Spencer Fox, the former child actor who played Dash in the first Incredibles film, but not the second. Listen. Music from this week's show: Equinox - John ColtraneNight Thoughts - John Zorn72 Degrees and Sunny - Thomas NewmanHorizon 12.2 - Thomas NewmanEye Surgery - Thomas NewmanThe Glory Days - Michael Giacchino
A Little-Known Statute Compels Medical Research Transparency. Compliance Is Pretty Shabby.
Evidence-based medicine requires just that: evidence. Access to the collective pool of knowledge produced by clinical trials is what allows researchers to safely and effectively design future studies. It's what allows doctors to make the most informed decisions for their patients. Since 2007, researchers have been required by law to publish the findings of any clinical trial with human subjects within a year of the trial's conclusion. Over a decade later, even the country's most well-renown research institutions sport poor reporting records. This week, Bob spoke with Charles Piller, an investigative journalist at Science Magazine who's been documenting this dismal state of affairs since 2015. He recently published an op-ed in the New York Times urging President Biden to make good on his 2016 "promise" to start withholding funds to force compliance.
A Little-Known Statute Compels Medical Research Transparency. Compliance Is Pretty Shabby.
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
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.