While maintaining the civility and fairness that are the hallmarks of public radio, OTM tackles sticky issues with a frankness and transparency that has built trust with listeners and led to more than a tripling of its audience in five years.
Since OTM was re-launched in 2001, it has been one of NPR's fastest growing programs, heard on more than 300 public radio stations. It has won Edward R. Murrow Awards for feature reporting and investigative reporting, the National Press Club's Arthur Rowse Award for Press Criticism and a Peabody Award for its body of work.
March 16, 2018
This week, we look at how selective coverage shapes our view of foreign borders, conflicts and historical figures — from Syria to Winston Churchill. Plus, a conversation with the editor-in-chief of National Geographic about their latest issue unpacking tricky issues of race, starting with the magazine's troubled past.
1. Thalia Beaty [@tkbeaty], reporter for Storyful, on the latest coverage of the war in Syria.
3. Susan Goldberg [@susanbgoldberg], editor-in-chief of National Geographic, on how the magazine is reckoning with racist coverage in its past.
Psalom by NYYD Quartet and Paul Hillier
Collected Songs Where Every Verse Is Filled With Grief by Kronos Quartet
Mazen Dha Nahar El Youm by Abdeslam Khaloufi
Her Averah by Norfolk & Western
Auf Einer Burg by Robert Schumann
Flugufrelsarinn by Kronos Quartet
March 13, 2018
Last week we spoke with New York Times tech columnist Farhad Manjoo after he published an article titled, “For two months, I got my news from print newspapers. Here’s what I learned.” He wrote that, earlier this year, "after the breaking-newsiest year in recent memory, I decided to travel back in time. I turned off my digital news notifications, unplugged from Twitter and other social networks, and subscribed to home delivery of three print newspapers.” It was a crash diet. Lots of healthy analog, and just a little digital — podcasts, email newsletters — for dessert.
Farhad found the experience so uplifting and liberating that he was moved to evangelize. He told Bob during their conversation, which you can still listen to, "I boiled it down into three Michael Pollan-esque prescriptions: Get news, not too quick, avoid social."
The only problem was, according to analysis by Dan Mitchell in the Columbia Journalism Review and Joshua Benton of Harvard’s Nieman Lab, Farhad spent most of his 48-day diet sneaking into the fridge. In the time that he was supposedly “unplugged” from Twitter news, he had tweeted hundreds and hundreds of times. Not the crime of the century — but still, oops.
And so Farhad spoke with Bob once more, to explain his rather involved definition of the word "unplugged," and to admit that old habits die hard.
March 9, 2018
In an age of constant breaking news, it can be hard to tell what matters and what’s just noise. This week, a look at what we’ve learned from recent coverage of the Russia investigation, and what we’ve missed everywhere else — particularly in West Virginia, where a recent teachers' strike made history. Plus, a dive into the complicated history of country music and why we so often get it wrong.
2. Sarah Jaffe [@sarahljaffe], journalist and co-host of the podcast Belabored, on the teachers' strike in West Virginia, and Elizabeth Catte [@elizabethcatte], historian and writer, on the news media's narratives regarding Appalachia. Listen.
**Note: This program originally contained an interview with the New York Times' Farhad Manjoo discussing an experiment in which he got his news only from print journalism and "unplugged from Twitter and other social networks" for two months. That interview was pulled after further reporting revealed that he did no such thing.**
"Tipico" by Miguel Zenon
"Susan (The Sage)" by The Chico Hamilton Quintet
"Death Have Mercy / Breakaway" by Regina Carter
"Dinner Music for a Pack" of Hungry Cannibals by Raymond Scott
"Okie from Muskogee" by Merle Haggard
"Fightin' Side of Me" by Merle Haggard
"The Pill" by Loretta Lynn
"Watching You" by Rodney Atkins
"Pictures from Life's Other Side" by Hank Williams, Sr.
"Friends In Low Places" by Garth Brooks
"Redneck Woman" by Gretchen Wilson
"Take This Job and Shove It" by Johnny Paycheck
"F— Aneta Briant" by David Allan Coe
"Irma Jackson" by Merle Haggard
"They Don't Know" by Jason Aldean
"Wild Mountain Thyme" by Buddy Emmons
March 7, 2018
Last week, we put out a special show hosted by The Guardian US’s Lois Beckett, devoted to how reporters should approach the alt-right, and white supremacy, in America, called "Face the Racist Nation."
As a bonus, we're putting out a full interview with one of the voices in that show: Norwegian journalist Vegas Tenold, whose new book, “Everything You Love Will Burn” chronicles his time covering the far right, up close and personal, for close to a decade. Lois talks to Vegas about how he has seen the far right evolve, the mistakes he sees journalists making and his relationship with the co-founder of the racist Traditionalist Worker Party, Matthew Heimbach.
March 2, 2018
For the past year, Lois Beckett [@loisbeckett], senior reporter at The Guardian US, has been showing up at white nationalist rallies, taking their pictures, writing down what they say. And she finds herself thinking: How did we get here? How did her beat as a political reporter come to include interviewing Nazis? And what are the consequences of giving these groups this much coverage?
In this week's program — the culmination of a months-long collaboration between On the Media and The Guardian US — we take a deep dive into what the news media often get wrong about white supremacists, and what those errors expose about the broader challenge of confronting racism in America.
1. Elle Reeve [@elspethreeve], correspondent for VICE News, Anna Merlan [@annamerlan], reporter for Gizmodo Media’s special projects desk, Vegas Tenold [@Vegastenold], journalist and author of Everything You Love Will Burn, and Al Letson [@Al_Letson], host of Reveal, from The Center for Investigative Reporting, on the pitfalls and perils of covering white supremacist groups.
3. Anna Merlan, Elle Reeve, Al Letson, Gary Younge [@garyyounge], editor-at-large for The Guardian, and Josh Harkinson [@joshharkinson], former senior writer at Mother Jones, on how individual identity impacts reporting on discriminatory movements.
4. Ibram X. Kendi [@DrIbram], professor of history and international relations at American University and author of "Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America," on the enduring myths surrounding the perpetuation of racist ideas and whose interests these misconceptions serve.
Lost, Night by Bill Frisell
Disfarmer Theme by Bill Frisell
I Am Not a Farmer by Bill Frisell
Gone Tomorrow by Lambchop
One crucial question during the Trump presidency has been whether racist rhetoric has influenced public policy. And so we put together a quiz! Is it just a germ of a garbage idea? Or is it wriggling its way into our laws? Click "Start" below to, you know, start.
And if you're really hoping to lose faith in our historical figures, you're in luck — we made a second quiz! Who said it: An elder statesman? Or a reviled white supremacist?
February 28, 2018
The podcast Trump Inc. is a collaboration between WNYC Studios and ProPublica. A team of investigative reporters is examining whether and how the Trump family is profiting from the presidency, and they've organized the show around an "open investigation" so listeners and tipsters can contribute and follow along. We featured the first episode on our podcast feed a few weeks ago, and this week we're checking back with Episode 4. Ilya Marritz of WNYC and Eric Umansky of ProPublica speak with David Farenthold of The Washington Post about what he's been able to learn about President Trump's business dealings, and take calls from listeners with questions about possible profits and motives.
February 23, 2018
Since the Parkland school shooting, the student-led #NeverAgain movement has kept gun control in the headlines. This week, we look at how the movement began — and how pro-gun internet trolls have tried to undermine its message. Plus, how the world of Black Panther taps into a long history of black liberation struggles, and why Black History Month, in the Trump era, can feel both righteous and corporate, dignified and farcical.
3. Adam Fletcher [@bicyclingfish], co-founder of the Freechild Project, on the history of student-led movements.
The Glass House - End Title by David Bergeaud
The Stone by The Chieftains
Trance Dance by John Zorn
Smells Like Teen Spirit by The Bad Plus
Rescue Me by Fontella Bass
Mai Nozipo by Kronos Quartet
February 22, 2018
In the wake of the school shooting in Florida we are recycling two interviews that we recorded following two other mass shooting tragedies. The first is about a chapter in the NRA's history that not many people know about. We’ve become accustomed in the past 20 years to seeing the issue of guns in America broken down into two camps: gun control advocates — led by police chiefs and Sarah Brady — and the all-powerful National Rifle Association. In an interview that originally aired after Sandy Hook in 2012, Bob talks to Adam Winkler, author of Gunfight: The Battle Over the Right to Bear Arms In America, who says there was a time, relatively recently, in fact, when the NRA supported gun control legislation, and the staunchest defenders of so-called "gun rights" were on the radical left.
The second interview we thought deserved another airing is about the dearth of research into these events. Hours before the 2015 mass shooting in San Bernardino, California, a group of physicians petitioned Congress to end the so-called Dickey Amendment, a nearly twenty-year-old ban that effectively prevents the CDC from researching gun violence. Brooke spoke to Todd Zwillich, acting host of The Takeaway, about the history of the ban and its current political state.
February 16, 2018
This week, we dive headfirst into the uncomfortable and the untrue — on the international stage, in the White House, and in your local newspaper. How claims from Immigration and Customs Enforcement [ICE] press releases sometimes end up, almost verbatim, in local reporting on deportations; why a New York City immigration advocate's history muddies the waters around his advocacy; what Poland's new Holocaust law really means for the country; and how personal stakes can shape our understanding of the plight of the Rohingya in Myanmar.
1. Bob, on the Trump White House getting caught up in lies once again.
3. Errol Louis [@errollouis], host of Inside City Hall on NY1, on the press's coverage of immigration advocate Ravi Ragbir.
4. Geneviève Zubrzycki, sociology professor at the University of Michigan, on Poland's new law regarding the Holocaust.
The Street by Elmer Bernstein
Susan the Stage by Chico Hamilton
III. White Man Sleeps by Kronos Quartet
Totem Ancestor by Kronos Quartet
Slow Pulse Conga by William Pasley
The Glass House - Mitra's Sadness by David Bergeaud
February 14, 2018
On Monday, Donald Trump released the second budget proposal of his presidency. There’s lots in it — more money for defense, veterans and border security and some tax changes too. But what really jumps out is the proposal to cut funding for federal assistance programs including a 20 percent cut to Section 8 housing, a 22 percent cut to Medicaid and a brutal 27 percent cut to SNAP (the benefit formerly known as food stamps). Bobby Kogan, who on Twitter identifies himself as “chief number cruncher for the Senate budget committee”, points out that SNAP benefits are already small at just $1.40 per meal, and that “cutting the program by a quarter is extremely cruel.”
The proposed cuts did trigger outrage from advocates for the poor, who have also noted that the social safety net has big holes and vulnerable people have been falling through them for years.
In the fall of 2016, Brooke reported a series we called “Busted: America’s Poverty Myths.” Over five episodes she explored the central myths of poverty as we see them: that the poor deserve to be poor, that you can pull yourself up by your bootstraps and (the one we are re-airing now), that the safety net can catch you.
With the help of Linda Tirado, author of Hand to Mouth: Living in Bootstrap America, and Matthew Desmond, author of Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City, we consider how anti-poverty programs can actually keep people poor and offer little hope for a way out.
Also, Brooke meets Margaret Smith, a Columbus woman made homeless after a violent crime derailed the life she'd carefully built with her six children. And we visit an Athens County food pantry that provides not just meals to the community, but also school supplies, clothing, furniture, job training, home repairs, disaster relief... even burial plots.