In the 1800s, New Bedford, Massachusetts was the world's "center of whaling." More than half of the world's whaling ships in the 1840s came from New Bedford. The small city was so emblematic of a New England whaling town that it served as the setting for Herman Melville's novel Moby Dick. According to the New York Times, it was then the richest city per capita on the continent. Now, more than a fifth of its approximately 95,000 citizens live in poverty. But this exceptional historic town is representative of a phenomenon happening in small towns across the United States. It's local daily newspaper, The Standard-Times, has been bought by Gannett, a hedge fund-backed news conglomerate and stripped down to barebones. It's become what's known as a "ghost newspaper," called such for its trimmed down staff and scant original reporting. The mayor of New Bedford was quoted in the New York Times saying: "It used to be that I couldn't sneeze without having to explain myself. Now, I have to beg people to show up at my press conferences. Please, ask me questions!" A year and a half ago, a small group of concerned community members gathered to try to address this dearth of local journalism. The result? A new, non-profit news outlet called The New Bedford Light. Brooke talks to Barbara Roessner, the founding editor of The New Bedford Light, about the challenges facing the fledgling outlet and the benefits that local journalism brings to the civic health of a community.
New reports show that the Trump Department of Justice spied on reporters. But that's just a small part of a much longer story, going back decades. This week, we examine when and why the government surveils journalists. And, following their first meeting this week, is there a headline beyond "Putin and Biden talked to each other?" Plus, on the 50th anniversary of the Pentagon Papers, how the story's biggest lessons were lost to time. 1. Alexey Kovalev [@Alexey__Kovalev], investigative editor at Meduza, on what Russian and American media got right and wrong about Putin and Biden's first meeting. Listen. 2. Matt Apuzzo [@mattapuzzo], New York Times reporter, on how the government seizes journalists' records and chills speech under guise of protecting national security. Listen. 3. Kurt Andersen [@KBAndersen], host of Nixon At War, says Watergate might have been Nixon's downfall, but the Vietnam War was his real undoing. Listen. 4. The late Les Gelb, the man who supervised the team that compiled the Pentagon Papers, explains how the media misinterpreted the documents. Listen. Music: Tymperturbably Blue by Duke EllingtonFergus River Roundelay by Gerry O'BeirneWhispers of a Heavenly Death by John ZornTrance Dance by John ZornMiddlesex Times by Michael AndrewsTribute to America (Medley) by The O'Neill Brothers Group
Over the last couple of weeks we've taken on some of the battles in the ongoing culture war. The granddaddy of them all is cancel culture. Michael Hobbes, co-host of the podcast You're Wrong About, told us that there isn't a situation that has been labeled a cancellation that couldn't benefit from a more accurate word to describe what had happened. So and so was fired...such and such was met with disagreement on twitter. Cancel need not apply. He also explained on his own podcast with Sarah Marshall that there were a few pivotal events along the way that led to the term cancel culture becoming the moral panic that it is today. One of them was the 2015 release of Jon Ronson's book "So You've Been Publicly Shamed." A series of case studies of people who were canceled before we started using that word.
Trump may be out of office, but the GOP's campaign to limit voting rights, free speech, and reproductive rights is still in full-swing. On this week's On the Media, where do you focus your attention when there are little fires everywhere? Plus, a look at a chilling new look for America: the "authoritarian mullet" — culture war in the front, the destruction of democracy in the back. And, how critical race theory became a right-wing bogeyman. 1. 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. 2. Jake Grumbach [@JakeMGrumbach], assistant professor of political science at the University of Washington, on how Republican state lawmakers reduce "democratic performance" when they take power. Listen. 3. Ryan P. Delaney [@rpatrickdelaney], education reporter for St. Louis Public Radio, on a Missouri school district's debate over Critical Race Theory, and Adam Harris [@AdamHSays], staff writer at The Atlantic, on how conservatives constructed the critical race theory boogeyman. Listen. Music: Little Motel - Modest Mouse Auld Lang Syne - Salsa Celtica L'Illusionista - Nino Rota Paperback Writer - Quartetto d'Archi Dell'orchestra Sinfonica di Milano Guiseppe Verdi Milestones - Bill Evans Trio Going Home - Hank Jones & Charlie Haden (post at 2:24 or 3:07) Quizás, Quizás, Quizás - Ramón Solé (back time this) In the Bath - Randy Newman
One of the Most Influential Black Journalists You Probably Never Heard Of
Record numbers of journalists formed unions over the last few years, surpassing data even from the surges of labor organizing in the 1930s. And the pandemic didn't slow the trend. Just this week journalists at the Atlantic announced that they were forming a union affiliated with the News Guild. But even with all the recent coverage, it's unlikely that you've heard of the very first person to lead a journalism unionization effort. Marvel Cooke was a crusading Black journalist who organized one of the first chapters of the Newspaper Guild...and she reported on labor and race until she was pushed out of journalism by redbaiting. Lewis Raven Wallace is the creator of The View from Somewhere, a podcast about journalism with a purpose, and author of the book The View from Somewhere: Undoing the Myth of Journalistic Objectivity. For years he's been researching journalists in U.S. history whose stories haven't been thoroughly told — because they were marginalized by a structure that didn't see them as "real" "objective" reporters. And that's what happened to Marvel Cooke...
One of the Most Influential Black Journalists You Probably Never Heard Of
After a young Associated Press journalist lost her job last month following online attacks, On the Media considers how bad faith campaigns against the media have become an effective weapon for the far right. Plus, should we cancel the word "cancel"? One journalist argues, yes, and one academic says, no. Plus, the origins of "cancelled" in Black culture. 1. OTM reporter Micah Loewinger [@MicahLoewinger] on the A.P.'s firing of Emily Wilder, and how newsrooms can learn to respond to right-wing smears without firing valued journalists. Listen. 2. Michael Hobbes [@RottenInDenmark], co-host of You're Wrong About, on the anecdotes that fuel "political correctness" and "cancel culture" panics. Listen. 3. Erec Smith [@Rhetors_of_York], associate professor of rhetoric and composition at the York College of Pennsylvania, on his experience being "cancelled" within an academic context. Listen. 4. Clyde McGrady [@CAMcGrady], features writer for The Washington Post, on the derivation and misappropriation of the word "cancelled." Listen. Music from this week's show: Main Title, Ragtime - Randy Newman What's that Sound? - Thomas Newman Middlesex Times - Michael AndrewsBubble Wrap - Thomas NewmanBlues: La Dolce Vita dei Nobili - Nino RotaBubble Wrap - Thomas NewmanYou Sexy Thing - Hot Chocolate
On May 31, 1921, Tulsa, Oklahoma's Greenwood District was a thriving Black residential and business community — a city within a city. By June 1, a white mob, with the support of law enforcement, had reduced it to ashes. And yet the truth about the attack remained a secret to many for nearly a century. Chief Egunwale Amusan grew up in Tulsa — his grandfather survived the attack — and he's dedicated his life to sharing the hidden history of what many called "Black Wall Street." But Dr. Tiffany Crutcher, also a descendant of a survivor, didn't learn about her family history or the massacre until she was an adult. Together, they're trying to correct the historical record. As Greenwood struggles with the effects of white supremacy 100 years later, people there are asking: in this pivotal moment in American history, is it possible to break the cycle of white impunity and Black oppression? Our WNYC colleague KalaLea tells the story. This podcast contains descriptions of graphic violence and racially offensive language. This is the first episode of Blindspot: Tulsa Burning, a new series from WNYC Studios and The HISTORY Channel.
COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. are falling and the number of the vaccinated continue to rise, but the pandemic's harm to our mental health is still beyond measure. This week, On the Media explores how society is describing its pandemic state of mind. Plus, a look at the high-stakes fight to drag science out from behind paywalls. 1. Roxanne Khamsi [@rkhamsi] speaks with Science Magazine staff writer Meredith Wadman [@meredithwadman] on the Global Initiative On Sharing All Influenza Data, known as GISAID. Listen. 2. Roxanne Khamsi [@rkhamsi] speaks with Bloomberg's Justin Fox [@foxjust] and Josh Sommer [@sommerjo] about the movement to make science journals open access. Listen. 3. Roxanne Khamsi [@rkhamsi] speaks with The Cut's Molly Fischer [@mollyhfischer] about the rise of therapy apps. Listen. 4. OTM producer Eloise Blondiau [@eloiseblondiau] with Jerry Useem, Adam Grant [@AdamMGrant], Dr. Laurence Kirmayer, Anne Harrington and Dr. Monnica Williams [@DrMonnica] on naming and soothing our pandemic mental health woes. Listen. Music from this week's show: John Zorn — Prelude 4: DiatesseronJack Body/Kronos Quartet — Long-GeUnknown — Solo Cello Suite No. 1John Zorn — Night ThoughtsMarcos Ciscar — Time Is LateKronos Quartet — MisteriososFranck Pourcel — Story Weather
We live in a time of sensory overload and overwhelm. A global pandemic, an ongoing climate catastrophe, and online discourse run amok. And a sense that we are powerless to do anything about any of it. In response, artist and writer Jenny Odell has a curious prescription: do nothing. In her 2019 book How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy, Odell advocates for occupying a space of "critical refusal": rejecting the terms of engagement as they're handed down to us and removing ourselves from the clamor and undue influence of public opinion. With lessons from ecology, art, history and beyond, Odell tells Brooke about her own journey toward more context and contemplation, and offers listeners an alternative way to think and be in relation to an overstimulating world. This segment is from our July 12th, 2019 program, Uncomfortably Numb.
A year and a half into the pandemic, we still don't know how it began. This week, a look at how investigating COVID-19's origins became a political and scientific minefield. Plus, how a mistake of microns caused so much confusion about how COVID spreads. And, making sense of the "metaverse." 1. Alina Chan [@Ayjchan], postdoctoral researcher at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, on the lack of investigation into COVID's origins. Listen. 2. Megan Molteni [@MeganMolteni], science writer at Stat News, on the 60-year-old mix-up that helped COVID-10 kill. Listen. 3. Gene Park [@GenePark], gaming reporter for The Washington Post, on what the "metaverse" really means. Listen. 4. Margaret Atwood [@MargaretAtwood], novelist, on submitting a manuscript to a library of the future. Listen. Music from this week's show: Sacred Oracle - John ZornEye Surgery - Thomas Newman The Old House - Marcos Ciscar Tomorrow Never Knows - Quartetto d' Archi Dell'orchestra Sinfonica di Milano Giuseppe Verdi 72 Degrees and Sunny - Thomas NewmanViderunt Omnes - Kronos QuartetOnce in a Lifetime - Talking Heads