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On the Media

On the Media

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Are the women-led protests in Iran powerful enough to force change when past attempts have failed? On this week's On the Media, a look at the moments that ignite movements, both online and in the streets. Plus, how silly videos built one of the largest media companies in the world, and the story of how one Twitch streamer successfully took down an army of harassers. 1. Fatemeh Shams [@ShazzShams], poet and professor of Persian literature at the University of Pennsylvania, on how the recent wave of protests in Iran differs from previous movements. Listen. 2. Ben Collins [@oneunderscore__], senior reporter for NBC, on how a famous Twitch streamer got an online forum taken down. Listen. 3. Mark Bergen [@mhbergen], journalist and author of Like, Comment, Subscribe: Inside YouTube's Chaotic Rise to World Domination, on how YouTube transformed from a dating site to an essential part of society. Listen.

In John Waters' Home (But Not In His Colon)

John Waters is the writer and director of such cult classics like Pink Flamingos, Serial Mom, and his biggest mainstream success, Hairspray. He's been making movies since the 1960s and this year he released his debut novel, Liarmouth: A Feel Bad Romance. The novel is an incredibly dirty romp filled with the kind of taboo storytelling that John Waters revels in. In his work, he shines a light on the worst of us but rarely to ridicule, more as a reminder of how gloriously sinful we can be, as we discussed when I spoke with him in his Manhattan home. His interest in the carnal, though, has its limits. "When I got a colonoscopy, they said, do you wanna watch? No!" he told us. "Why do I wanna go on a fantastic voyage up my a–hole?" We also talked about money management, aging, and his secret to maintaining his many long friendships. "I do stay in touch and if anything bad happens to you, I call. If you get a bad review, I call. If you go to jail, I definitely am your first visit," he laughed. "I never don't come visit you if you're in jail."

No. The Medieval Times Were Not All Game of Thrones

Today, when we encounter the medieval world it's mostly a dark time. Un-enlightened by reason, but also literally gloomy – all bare stone and grey skies. We know it as a brutal time, dominated by white men with steeds and swords, or drenched in blood by marauding Vikings. But in their new book, The Bright Ages: A New History of Medieval Europe, historians Matthew Gabriele and David M. Perry trace the harm of the myths of the "Dark Ages," and illuminate the medieval stories that have mostly escaped our modern gaze. This is a segment from our January 14th, 2022 program A Question of War.

The Fine Print

The federal court is hearing a case that could change the publishing industry as we know it. On this week's show, hear what readers will lose if conglomerates further monopolize the market. Plus, print sales far exceed expectations — it turns out readers do not want to curl up with a good ebook. 1. Alexandra Alter [@xanalter], reporter at the New York Times, on how the booming publishing industry is wrestling with supply chain nightmares and more to meet reader demand. Listen. 2. Katy Waldman [@xwaldie], writer at The New Yorker, explains what's at stake in the DOJ v. Penguin Random House case. Listen. 3. Margot Boyer-Dry [@M_BigDeal], freelance culture writer, on why book covers are looking more and more similar, blobs and all. Listen. 4. John B. Thompson, Professor of Sociology at the University of Cambridge, on how Amazon changed the book market for good, and why the appeal of the print book persists. Listen. Music in this week's show:Paperback Writer - Quartetto d'Archi Dell'Orchestra Sinfonica di Milano Guiseppe VerdiTymperturbably Blue - Duke EllingtonI Could Write A Book - Miles DavisTateh's Picture Book - Randy NewmanMy Baby Loves A Bunch of Authors - Moxy Fruvous

How a Russian Sleeper Agent Charmed Her Way Onto NATO's Social Scene

This week, Brooke talks to Christo Grozev, lead Russia investigator with Bellingcat, about how he uncovered the real identity of a Russian "sleeper" agent who went by the name Maria Adela. Grozev tells Brooke about how rarely these kinds of spies are discovered, what made "Maria Adela" an unlikely spy and what kind of information she could have gathered on NATO.

Lock Him Up?

As the government continues its investigation into classified documents found at former President Donald Trump's home, a tough question has emerged. On this week's On the Media, hear how democracies around the world have grappled with whether to prosecute a former leader. Plus, why new leadership at CNN is reigniting the debate over the place of objectivity in journalism. 1. James D. Long [@prof_jameslong], associate professor of political science at the University of Washington, on the consequences of modern democracies across the globe prosecuting — or choosing not to prosecute — their former leaders. Listen. 2. Rachel Donadio [@RachelDonadio], a journalist and contributing writer for The Atlantic, discusses what we can learn from Italy's experience with trying Silvio Berlusconi for crimes relating to his business and personal life. Listen. 3. Yael Freidson [@YaelFreidson], the Legal and Jerusalem affairs correspondent for Haaretz, on Israel's struggle around prosecuting a sitting prime minister. Listen. 4. Rick Perlstein [@rickperlstein], a journalist and author of The Invisible Bridge: The Fall of Nixon and the Rise of Reagan, explains the continuing impact of Gerald Ford's decision to pardon Richard Nixon for his crimes. Listen. 5. Jon Allsop [@Jon_Allsop], a freelance journalist and author of a daily newsletter for Columbia Journalism Review titled, The Media Today, on CNN's new leadership and the long-reigning debate over impartiality in political journalism. Listen.

"Library With A Turret On Top"

This week saw the conclusion of the campaign to shut down one of the internet's most toxic forums, Kiwi Farms. Twitch streamer Clara Sorrenti aka "Keffals" led the charge against the site after she was targeted by anonymous users of Kiwi Farms for being a trans woman and speaking out against anti-LGBTQ laws. Stalkers repeatedly doxxed her and her family members, and left them threatening voicemail messages. Harassment campaigns against trans people, journalists, influencers, activists, sex workers, all sorts of people, effectively became the site's raison d'etre after it was founded in 2013. OTM correspondent Micah Loewinger spoke to NBC's Ben Collins about the life and death of Kiwi Farms.

Ukraine's Fight

Six months into Russia's invasion, Ukrainians are still fighting back on all fronts. On this week's show, hear how Ukraine's newest struggle is for our attention, and how Big Tech is letting Russian propaganda spread. Plus, the story of a Ukrainian gaming influencer who turned to video games and his internet community to survive the conflict. 1. Olga Tokariuk [@olgatokariuk], Ukrainian journalist, describes watching international attention on the war wane in real time, and its consequences. Listen. 2. Andrey Boborykin [@mediaborscht], Executive Director of Ukrainska Pravda, one of Ukraine's biggest independent outlets, speaks with Brooke about how big tech companies continue to platform Russian propaganda. Listen. 3. Micah Loewinger [@MicahLoewinger], OTM correspondent, on the Ukrainian Twitch streamer who used his virtual military skills and online community to get his family to safety when the invasion began (Part One). Listen. 4. Micah Loewinger revisits his reporting on Bobi, the Twitch streamer who escaped war in Ukraine, to learn what has happened since (Part Two). Listen.

Big Tech vs. Ukraine's Local Media

For most of the 20th century, during which time it was the control of a Moscow-based government for nearly 70 years, Ukraine didn't have an independent press. Over the past two decades, an ecosystem of independent press has grown in Ukraine. This Ukrainian press corps has been tirelessly covered the Russia's invasion of Ukraine over the past six months. But even as their audiences grow, funding from advertising for their reporting has dried up as Ukraine's economy struggles. Ukrainian media have also been subject content bans on Facebook for "glorifying violence" as they report on the war. Andrey Boborykin, Executive Director of Ukrainska Pravda, one of Ukraine's biggest independent outlets, speaks with Brooke about the ongoing information war between Ukraine and Russia, how big tech companies continue to platform Russian propaganda, and what local Ukrainian media outlets are doing to keep their doors open.

Russia's War

Six months after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, President Putin has rallied the Russian population around the brutal conflict. On this week's On the Media, hear how the Kremlin's crackdown on the press paved the way for war. Plus, a look inside the world of Russian propaganda, and how it influences people. 1. OTM Producer Molly Schwartz [@mollyfication] speaks with Alec Luhn [@ASLuhn] and Veronika Silchenko [@NikaSilchenko], freelance journalists for Vice, on reporting in Russia under repressive new laws. And Kirill Martynov [@kmartynov], Editor-in-Chief of Novaya Gazeta Europe, and Katerina Kotrikadze [@katyakotrikadze], news director and anchor at TV Rain, and Roman Dobrokhotov [@Dobrokhotov], Editor-in-Chief of The Insider, on working as Russian journalists-in-exile. Listen. 2. Thomas Rid [@RidT], author of the book Active Measures, on the the long ancestry of modern-day Russian info ops, and Francis Scarr [@francis_scarr], senior digital journalist at BBC Monitoring, on the false narratives that Russian state TV broadcasts about the war in Ukraine. Listen. 3. Anastasiia Carrier [@carrierana22], freelance journalist, on growing up with Russian propaganda and unlearning the Kremlin's lies. Listen. Music: String Quartet No. 3 by Henryk GoreckiExurgency by Zoe KeatingWe Insist by Zoe KeatingThe Artifact & Living by Michael AndrewsI Got a Right to Sing the Blues by Billy Kyle Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy by Pyotr TchaikovskyThe Hammer of Los - John ZornKhovanshchina Overture (remix) Blackbird by Brad Mehldau