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.
April 21, 2021
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.
April 16, 2021
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.
Music from this week's show:
Fallen Leaves - Marcos Ciscar
Let’s Face The Music & Dance - Harry Roy & His Orchestra
April 13, 2021
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.
April 9, 2021
With Congress set to consider bills next week that could set the future of Puerto Rican self-determination, we consider how a 70-year-old promise to decolonize the island keeps getting broken. Plus, how Puerto Ricans notched a hugely symbolic victory over the U.S. — during the 2004 Olympics.
2. Julio Ricardo Varela [@julito77], co-host of In the Thick and editorial director at Futuro Media, on what the showdown between the Puerto Rican and U.S. Olympic basketball teams in 2004 meant to him then and now. Listen.
We Insist by Zoe Keating
YUMAVISION by ÌFÉ
Malphino by Ototoa
La Brega is a podcast series hosted by OTM producer/reporter Alana Casanova-Burgess. The series uses narrative storytelling and investigative journalism to reflect and reveal how la brega has defined so many aspects of life in Puerto Rico, and is available in English and Spanish.
April 7, 2021
For over four years, Reveal, an award-winning program from the Center for Investigative Reporting, was embroiled in a multimillion-dollar libel suit. Planet Aid, a non-profit known for clothing collection, had sued the podcast over an intensive two-year investigation that "tied the charity to an alleged cult and raised significant questions about whether the funds from the U.S. and other governments actually were reaching the people they were intended to help." Two weeks ago, a judge in California dismissed the case. Here's the judge's full ruling.
Despite being a fairly straightforward SLAPP case—the case required dozens of reporter hours that took away from crucial reporting work—the newsroom only managed to stay afloat long enough to fight the suit because of generous pro-bono support. This week, Bob spoke to Victoria Baranetsky, general counsel at Reveal, about what small newsrooms stand to lose in court battles with wealthy public figures and organizations.
EDITOR'S NOTE: After publication, we were contacted by a PR firm representing Planet Aid. They took issue with our characterization of Reveal’s reporting on “abuse of US Foreign Aid by the charity and its subcontractors.” Although the Reveal series reported on Planet Aid’s use of grant money, following a two-year investigation, and the judge dismissed Planet Aid’s lawsuit with prejudice under California’s anti-SLAPP statute, we acknowledge, at the request of Planet Aid, that the judge also held in the recent ruling (full decision available above) that Planet Aid had demonstrated that a number of specific factual assertions made by the Center of Investigative Reporting were false. Planet Aid also reached out to the Center of Investigative Reporting prior to filing its lawsuit asking for a retraction and correction.
April 6, 2021
La Brega is a seven-part podcast series hosted by OTM producer/reporter Alana Casanova-Burgess. The series uses narrative storytelling and investigative journalism to reflect and reveal how la brega has defined so many aspects of life in Puerto Rico, and is available in English and Spanish. This is episode seven.
Puerto Rico’s relationship with the United States has long been a subject of intense debate. In 1952, Puerto Rico adopted a new status that was meant to decolonize the island. In English, we call it a “Commonwealth.” In Spanish, it’s called “Estado Libre Asociado”, or ELA. Puerto Ricans were promised for decades that this unique status meant they had a special kind of sovereignty while maintaining ties to the US. Now, a series of recent crises on the island have led many to question that promise, and to use the word “colony” more and more. In this episode, political anthropologist and El Nuevo Día columnist Yarimar Bonilla looks for those who still believe in the ELA, and asks what happens when a political project dies.
You can get more resources for related issues at the Puerto Rico Syllabus website.
April 2, 2021
The trial of the former police officer charged in the death of George Floyd has been broadcasting live all this week. This week, we examine what effect the cameras in the court can have on the verdict and on us, watching from home. Plus, how striving for the appearance of journalistic “objectivity” can make newsrooms less diverse, and how trauma informs journalism.
3. Bruce Shapiro [@dartcenter], executive director of the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma at Columbia Journalism School, on why trauma shouldn't disqualify reporters from reporting on topics into which they have insight. Listen.
4. Ernest Owens [@mrernestowens], Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists president, about the double-standards facing journalists who have identities or lived experiences that are different from editors who still determine what constitutes "objectivity." Listen.
Music from this week's show:
Frail As a Breeze — Erik Friedlander
The Artifact and the Living — Michael Andrews
Night Thoughts — John Zorn
Fallen Leaves — Marcos Ciscar
Middlesex Times — Michael Andrews
Bubble Wrap — Thomas Newman
Carmen Fantasy — Anderson + Row
Tribute to America — The O’Neill Brothers
March 31, 2021
Before the Vietnam War there was a law that banned women from reporting on the frontlines of any war for the U.S. When President Johnson refused to officially declare a state of war in Vietnam, an opening appeared: no war, no ban. A handful of pioneering women bought one-way tickets into the battlefield. They had no editors, no health insurance and little or no formal training. This week, Brooke spoke about this time to reporter Elizabeth Becker, formerly a Washington Post war correspondent in Cambodia, NPR's foreign editor and then national security correspondent for the New York Times. Becker is the author of a new book: You Don't Belong Here: How Three Women Rewrote the Story of War.
March 30, 2021
La Brega is a seven-part podcast series hosted by OTM producer/reporter Alana Casanova-Burgess. The series uses narrative storytelling and investigative journalism to reflect and reveal how la brega has defined so many aspects of life in Puerto Rico, and is available in English and Spanish. This is episode six.
Luis J. Valentín Ortiz from the Centro de Periodismo Investigativo tells a hidden story from Puerto Rico’s debt crisis, that of the micro-creditors — thousands of low-income retirees and former public employees with claims that the government may never pay, ranging from hundreds to thousands of dollars. As a federal judge prepares to make a decision on whether they’ll get paid, this episode asks: how can the government settle its many debts — not just monetary — with its citizens?
You can read more about micro-creditors in this piece from CPI.
We also recommend this Radio Ambulante episode, produced by Luis Trelles, for more context about the debt crisis.
March 26, 2021
A so-called surge of migrants at the southern border has caught the attention of immigration reform advocates, conservative trolls, and TV news crews, but alarming headlines may not tell the full story. Plus, a #MeToo reckoning on YouTube has caused a new media empire to crumble. Then, a look at the controversy surrounding the newsletter site Substack, home to "sustainable journalism" and culture war punditry. And, the internet's most innovative observer on the cultivation of her misunderstood beat.
2. Kat Tenbarge [@kattenbarge], digital culture reporter at Insider, and Taylor Lorenz [@TaylorLorenz], tech reporter for The New York Times, on the exploitation behind YouTube's viral prank culture. Listen.
Music from this week's show:
Whispers of a heavenly death — John Zorn
The Desert and Two Grey Hills — Gerry O’Beirne
Investigations — Kevin MacLeod
Il Casanova de Frederico Fellini — Nino Rota
String Quartet No. 5 - Philip Glass — Kronos Quartet
What’s that Sound — Michael Andrews
Trance Dance — John Zorn