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On the Media

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Podcast Overview

The smartest, wittiest, most incisive media analysis show in the universe. The weekly one-hour podcast of NPR’s On the Media is your guide to how the media sausage is made. Hosts Brooke Gladstone and Bob Garfield examine threats to free speech and government transparency, criticize media coverage of the week’s big stories, examine new technology, and unravel hidden political narratives in the media. In an age of information overload, OTM helps you dig your way out. The Peabody Award winning show is produced by WNYC Radio.

Podcast Episodes

Three-Dimensional Chess

The press are calling Don Jr.’s meeting with a Russian lawyer a “smoking gun.” Why Trump supporters see it otherwise. Plus, the White House’s plan to cement the voter fraud narrative in service of future voter suppression. And, an Iraqi radio broadcaster puts his life on the line fighting ISIS propaganda in Mosul and a group of Syrian citizen journalists push back on the narratives about Raqqa.

 

1. Buzzfeed's Charlie Warzel on how the right-wing media is spinning the Don Jr. emails — and how it reveals something deeper about the pro-Trump media ecosystem.

2. Russian journalist Alexey Kovalev on what the American media get wrong in its reporting on Vladimir Putin.

3. ProPublica's Jessica Huseman on the mistaken reporting on the backlash to the "election integrity" commission's attempt to gather data about voters from the states.

4. City of Ghosts director Matthew Heineman describes the efforts of Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently, a band of citizen journalists led by Abdel Aziz al-Hamza who risk their lives to report on conditions in Raqqa, Syria.

5. Radio Al-Ghad's Mohammad Al-Musali describes how his pirate radio station defied the media blackout in Mosul under ISIS rule in order to shine a light onto the city.

In Which Brooke Explains OTM's Secret Sauce To Jesse Thorn

Bullseye host Jesse Thorn has just launched a new podcast called The Turnaround. It’s a series of longform interviews with interviewers about interviewing, with people ranging from Ira Glass to Larry King to Marc Maron and this week, with Brooke. Jesse really wanted to get into how On The Media is made, and why it sounds the way it does.

Apocalypse, Now

Science fiction has always been an outlet for our greatest anxieties. This week, we delve into how the genre is exploring the reality of climate change. Plus: new words to describe the indescribable.

1. Jeff VanderMeer @jeffvandermeer, author of the Southern Reach Trilogy and Borne, on writing about the relationships between people and nature.

2. Claire Vaye Watkins @clairevaye talks about Gold Fame Citrus, her work of speculative fiction in which an enormous sand dune threatens to engulf the southwest. 

3. Kim Stanley Robinson discusses his latest work, New York 2140. The seas have risen 50 feet and lower Manhattan is submerged. And yet, there's hope.

4. British writer Robert Macfarlane @RobGMacfarlane on new language for our changing world.

Throughout the show: listeners offer their own new vocabulary for the Anthropocene era. Many thanks to everyone who left us voice memos!

 

It's the End of the World and We Know It

In our upcoming episode we’ll examine how science fiction has taken on the challenge of imagining life after global warming. There’s drought, flood, grievous loss and even some optimism. So with that in mind, we thought we’d whet your appetite for annihilation by replaying this interview Brooke did with author Ben Winters a few years back. In his trilogy “The Last Policeman” it isn’t the slow creep of  melting glaciers and devastating drought that heralds the end of the world, it’s an asteroid.

All the action takes place in the 6 final months before the the date of impact which spurs responses ranging from frolicking on beaches to suicide to murder. But the central character in Winter’s trilogy is a policeman who just wants to do his job.

 

What Ails America

Our northern neighbor is celebrating its 150th birthday this weekend, yet many Canadians don’t care. Why Canada’s lack of patriotism might be a good thing. Also, how families of black people killed by police often have to grieve under the media spotlight. And the tale of a composer's search for the sound of America. 

1. Canadian writer Stephen Marche @StephenMarche on the differences between Canadian and American views on diversity and culture.

2. Writer Mychal Denzel Smith @mychalsmith on the "obligation for black families to mourn in public."

3. WNYC's Sara Fishko on composer Aaron Copland's quest to capture American identity in music. 

"The American people elected a fighter"

Bob's take on this week's back and forth between the President and the press who cover him. 

Newton Minow Still Cares About the Media

This week, at the annual conference of the National Association for Media Literacy Education, Bob sat down with former FCC chairman Newton Minow to survey the "vast wasteland" of television. They discuss the Kennedy administration, the changing landscape of TV, and... Gilligan's Island.

Stand And Be Counted

Following the Republican victory in Georgia this week, a look at how gerrymandering makes some political outcomes inevitable—and why the media aren't talking about it. Also, the US Census is on the rocks, and the repercussions could be severe. Plus, how Mexico's most prominent journalists and activists have been targeted by sophisticated government spyware.

1. FairVote's David Daley (@davedaley3) on the vast influence of gerrymandering on American politics. 

2. Former Census director Kenneth Prewitt on recent shakeups at the Bureau and the implications of a crippled Census.

3. Sociologist Cristina Mora (@GCristinaMora) on how Univision helped create a new Census category for the 1980 survey: "Hispanic."

4. Citizen Lab senior researcher John Scott-Railton (@jsrailton) on the use of spyware against Mexican activists and reporters, and Mexican journalist Salvador Camarena (@SalCamarena) on being targeted firsthand.

Become a member of the On the Media community today. Sign up to donate just $7 a month and we'll send you a copy of Brooke's new book "The Trouble with Reality." OntheMedia.org/donate 

The Slants Win the Day!

On Monday, the Supreme Court ruled that a law denying federal trademark protection to names deemed disparaging is unconstitutional. Justice Samuel Alito wrote in the unanimous decision that “it offends a bedrock First Amendment principle: speech may not be banned on the ground that it expresses ideas that offend.”

The suit was brought by the Portland dance-rock band The Slants, a group of Asian-American musicians who have taken their name from an ethnic slur and worn it with pride. The musicians sued because when they tried to register trademark for their name, the US Patent and Trademark Office said, “The Slants? No no no no no no."

Bob spoke to the founder of The Slants, Simon Tam, exactly 2 years ago, when the band had just lost its appeal at the Federal Circuit Court.

Sterner Stuff

Become a member of the On the Media community today. Sign up to donate just $7 a month and we'll send you a copy of Brooke's new book "The Trouble with Reality". Donate now. 

After the politically charged shooting at a Virginia baseball field this week, a look at how politicians and the press blamed everyone from Democrats to William Shakespeare. Plus, trying to get behind the secret deliberation over the Republican healthcare bill with Senator Ron Wyden, and Puerto Rico's search for new words and symbols to define itself.

1. Following the shooting in Virginia, Bob offers a Breaking News Consumer's Handbook: Political Violence Edition.

2. The Guardian's Lois Beckett on what critics of The Public Theater's production of "Julius Caesar" get wrong and why theater is so essential in our current political moment.

3. Senator Ron Wyden on attempts by Republicans to form healthcare policy in secret.

4. Bob on the Trump administration's adherence to talking points regarding ongoing investigations.

5. Slate's Dahlia Lithwick on how the courts are contending with Trump's tweets.

6. On the Media producer Alana Casanova-Burgess on Puerto Rico's attempt to clarify its identity through new words and symbols.

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