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 20, 2022
In the wake of yet another racist mass shooting, this time in Buffalo, New York, media outlets are churning out heartbreakingly familiar stories, with the same tropes and the same helplessness. On this week's On the Media, how we've become mired in patterns and lost sight of the potential solutions. Plus, how journalists should cover the ongoing siege on democracy. Then, a deep dive into the forgotten legacy of one of America's most influential writers.
3. Paul Auster, acclaimed novelist and author of Burning Boy: The Life and Work of Stephen Crane, on the 19th century writer's forgotten legacy. Listen.
White Man Sleeps by The Kronos Quartet
Fergus River Roundelay by Gerry O’Beirne
Middlesex Times by Michael Andrews
A Ride with Polly Jean by Jenny Scheinman
Cellar Door by Michael Andrews
May 18, 2022
This week we're airing an interview that Brooke did while on a fellowship at the American Academy in Rome. She and her husband Fred Kaplan (author of the War Stories column in Slate), sat down with Mark Hannah, host of the podcast "None of the Above," produced by the Eurasia Group Foundation.
From the Crimean War of 1853 to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine this year, journalists, reporters, and the media have shaped the public’s understanding of war. But do the stories we read and the photos we see provide an impartial picture of the wars they document? As Hannah recently explained in Foreign Policy, certain aspects of American war coverage—reliance on government sources and incentives to simplify geopolitics as battles between good and evil—have long compelled news organizations to tilt toward military action.
May 13, 2022
With Roe v Wade under threat, some politicians and media outlets are trying to turn the national conversation away from abortion and toward civility. On this week’s On the Media, how the GOP has mastered the art of setting the narrative. Plus, how moral panics surrounding dangerous TikTok trends follow a century-old pattern of blaming new technology for the deviant behavior of teenagers.
May 12, 2022
This week, we take a look at the latest celebrity trial to ensnare the national attention. Johnny Depp is suing Amber Heard, his ex-wife, for defamation, and she’s counter suing him for the same. Depp’s suit takes issue with an op-ed Heard wrote back in 2018 for the Washington Post in which she identifies herself as a survivor of domestic violence. She first came forward with allegations against Depp in 2016. In 2018, Depp sued British tabloid, The Sun, for defamation over headlines that accused him of abuse, but he lost that case. Given the history, you might expect to see fewer headlines over this latest trial. But, not so. The ratings for Court TV, which is broadcasting every moment of the trial, have more than doubled. Pair the live visuals with Depp’s rabid online fanbase, and you’ve got a case being watched billions of times over — in fact, the #JusticeforJohnnyDepp hashtag has upwards of 10 billion views on TikTok and it’s spawned several viral sounds and trends and … comedy sketches. Guest host Brandy Zadrozny asks EJ Dickson, senior writer for Rolling Stone, about how pro-Depp coverage of the case took over TikTok, and its consequences.
May 6, 2022
Across news outlets, crime reporting often relies on police sources and incomplete data. On this week’s show, hear how to spot bias in crime stories and what more nuanced coverage looks like. And, the struggle to protect whistleblowers calling out police abuse. Plus, the story of one powerful tabloid that has stymied bail reform for decades.
1. Laura Bennett, the co-author of “Freedom, Then the Press: New York Media and Bail Reform,” on how to read a crime story. Listen.
3. Tom Devine, legal director of the Government Accountability Project, on how to protect whistleblowers on police misconduct. Listen.
May 4, 2022
This week, OTM presents a story from our colleagues at The Experiment. There’s a common story about abortion in this country, that people have only two options to intentionally end a pregnancy: the clinic or the coat hanger. They can choose the safe route that’s protected by Roe v. Wade—a doctor in a legal clinic—or, if Roe is overturned, endure a dangerous back-alley abortion, symbolized by the coat hanger. But a close look at the history of abortion in this country shows that there’s much more to this story. As a draft of the majority opinion overruling Roe v. Wade was leaked to the media this week, activists are once again preparing to take abortion into their own hands.
Reporter Jessica Bruder explores the abortion underground to learn about the movement’s origins, and reveals how activists today are mobilizing around effective and medically safe abortion methods that can be done at home.
Further reading: “A Covert Network of Activists Is Preparing for the End of Roe”
April 29, 2022
After news broke that Elon Musk is likely to purchase Twitter later this year, the billionaire began sharing a controversial vision for the app. On this week’s On the Media, hear why Musk’s plan to turn Twitter into a so-called free speech platform could spiral out of control and how urban planning can make safer digital spaces. Plus, how science fiction inspired some of Silicon Valley’s most powerful men.
1. Anand Giridharadas [@AnandWrites], author of Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World, Erika D. Smith [@Erika_D_Smith], LA Times columnist, and Natalie Wynn [@ContraPoints], YouTuber and political commentator, on the implications and possible outcomes of Elon Musk's potential purchase of Twitter. Listen.
3. Jill Lepore, Harvard historian and staff writer at the New Yorker, Annalee Newitz [@Annaleen], former Editor-in-Chief of Gizmodo and science fiction author, and Gene Seymour [@GeneSeymour], longtime cultural critic, on tech moguls' obsession with science fiction. Listen.
April 27, 2022
On this week's podcast extra we present episode 1 of a new series from our colleague, Nancy Solomon. She’s our New Jersey specialist at WNYC and she’s got quite the tale to tell. It’s about a murder on a Jersey cul de sac that was never solved. And it involves some of the most powerful people in the state. It’s even got a waterfront land deal. It’s sort of like Chinatown meets American Hustle. It’s a seven episode podcast, and we think you’ll like it. Listen and subscribe here: https://link.chtbl.com/M_a20dat?sid=otmwebsite
April 22, 2022
Checking in on the so-called Great Resignation. On this week’s On The Media, hear why the trend is a logical response to the cult of work. Plus, when technology makes our jobs harder, maybe being a 'luddite' isn't such a bad thing.
1. Sarah Jaffe [@sarahljaffe], journalist and author of Work Won't Love You Back: How Devotion to Our Jobs Keeps Us Exploited, Exhausted, and Alone, on how love and meaning became intertwined with our jobs. Listen.
2. Anne Helen-Peterson [@annehelen], writer and journalist, and Charlie Warzel [@cwarzel], contributing writer at The Atlantic, on how technology is—or, dramatically is not — making life easier at work. Listen.
3. Gavin Mueller [@gavinmuellerphd], assistant professor of New Media and Digital Culture at the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands, on what modern lessons can be learned from the Luddite workers of 19th century England. Listen.
Music from this week's show:
Sign and Sigil by John Zorn
BROKE by Modest Mouse
Middlesex Times by Michael Andrews
Blues by La Dolce vita Dei Nobili
Liquid Spear Waltz by Michael Andrews
Stolen Moments by Ahmed Jamal Trio
April 20, 2022
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: