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.
May 7, 2021
There’s a long history of campaigns to “save the children,” whether they need saving or not. This week, On the Media looks at the latest: an effort to block access to medical care for trans kids. Plus, how years of Hollywood representation — from The Crying Game to Transparent — have shaped the public’s ideas about trans people.
1. Katelyn Burns [@transscribe], freelance journalist and co-host of the "Cancel Me, Daddy!" podcast, on the the politics and propaganda behind the recent wave of anti-trans legislation, and Jack Turban [@jack_turban], fellow in child and adolescent psychiatry at Stanford University School of Medicine, on what the science tells us about gender affirming care in adolescence. Listen.
2. Jules Gill-Petersen [@gp_jls], professor of english and gender, sexuality, and women's studies at the University of Pittsburgh and author of Histories of the Transgender Child, on the long history of trans children. Listen.
Prelude 7: Sign and Sigil - John Zorn
Totem Ancestor - John Cage
Blackbird - Brad Mehldau
Harpsichord - Four Tet
Peace Piece - Bill Evans - Kronos Quartet
Black Is the Color / Theme from "Spartacus" - Fred Hersch
After the Fact - John Scofield
May 5, 2021
Last Friday, remains of at least one victim of the infamous 1985 MOVE bombing were turned over to a Philadelphia funeral home, capping more than a week of confusion and re-opened wounds. MOVE members claim the remains were those of 14-year-old Tree Africa and 12-year-old Delisha Africa, among the five children and six adults killed 36 years ago this month after an anti-government, pro-environment, Black liberation group called MOVE defied arrest warrants and barricaded themselves in a West Philadelphia rowhouse. On May 13, 1985, C-4 explosives dropped on that home by Philadelphia police led to a fire that destroyed 61 homes in a predominantly Black neighborhood. Though consciousness of the bombing seems to have grown in recent years, when native Philadelphian and NPR correspondent Gene Demby reported on the 30th anniversary of the bombing back in 2015, he got a reaction he wasn't expecting: much of his audience hadn't heard of it before.
April 30, 2021
This week we take a close look at how the words we choose can unknowingly condemn people caught up in the criminal justice system. Plus, the costs and complications of working as a journalist while incarcerated. And, the overlooked, self-trained women journalists of the Vietnam War.
1. Brooke tracks the evolution of language in the early days of Biden's presidency. Listen.
2. Akiba Solomon [@akibasolomon], senior editor at The Marshall Project, explains how terms like "inmate" and "offender" can distract, dehumanize, and mislead, and why "people-first" language is more appropriate for journalists. Listen.
Music from this week's show:
Tilliboyo (“Sunset”) — Kronos Quartet
Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered — Brad Mehldau
The Butterfly — The Bothy Band
Clonycavan Man — Gerry O’Beirne
John’s Book Of Alleged Dances — Kronos Quartet
Carmen Fantasy — Anderson & Row
April 28, 2021
International Workers' Day is celebrated with rallies and protests all over the world on May 1, but it's not a big deal in the United States. Back in 2018 , Brooke spoke with Donna Haverty-Stacke of Hunter College, CUNY about the American origin of May Day — and about how it has come to be forgotten. The first national turnout for worker's rights in the U.S. was on May 1, 1886; contrary to what you may have heard elsewhere, it wasn't the same thing as the Haymarket Affair. Haverty-Stacke is also author of America’s Forgotten Holiday: May Day and Nationalism, 1867–1960, and she explains that the fight over May 1, or May Day, is also about the fight for American identity and what it means to be radical and patriotic at the same time.
The OTM crew (in 2018) sings "Into The Streets May First," a never-before-professionally-recorded 1935 Aaron Copland anthem:
April 23, 2021
A jury has found Derek Chauvin guilty in the case that sparked a historic wave of protests last summer. This week we examine how fears over those protests are being channeled into restrictive new legislation across the country. And, what it’s like to drive the Mars rover from your childhood bedroom. Plus, a former child actor grapples with how his character defined him.
1. Tami Abdollah [@latams], national correspondent for USA Today, on how Republican-controlled legislatures across the country have been introducing bills to criminalize protests — or as they put it, to stop the rioting. Listen.
2. Brendan Chamberlain-Simon, a robotics technologist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, explains what it's like to live on Mars Time, and the questions that led him to space. Avi Loeb, Frank B. Baird, Jr., Professor of Science at Harvard University, makes a compelling case for intelligent life beyond Earth. Listen.
Music from this week's show:
Equinox - John Coltrane
Night Thoughts - John Zorn
72 Degrees and Sunny - Thomas Newman
Horizon 12.2 - Thomas Newman
Eye Surgery - Thomas Newman
The Glory Days - Michael Giacchino
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.