On the MediaAuthor: WNYC Studios
21 May 2018

On the Media

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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.

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    Africatown

    Just outside of Mobile, Alabama, sits the small community of Africatown, a town established by the last known slaves brought to America, illegally, in 1860. Decades after that last slave ship, The Clotilde, burned in the waters outside Mobile, Africatown residents are pushing back against the forces of industrial destruction and national amnesia. Local struggles over environmental justice, land ownership, and development could determine whether Africatown becomes an historical destination, a living monument to a lingering past — or whether shadows cast by highway overpasses and gasoline tanks will erase our country's hard-learned lessons. 

    Brooke spoke with Deborah G. Plant, editor of a new book by Zora Neale Hurston's about a founder of Africatown, Joe Womack, environmental activist and Africatown resident, Vickii Howell, president and CEO of the MOVE Gulf Coast Community Development Corporation, Charles Torrey, research historian for the History Museum of Mobile, and others about the past, present, and future of Africatown, Alabama. 

    Songs:

    Traditional African Nigerian Music of the Yoruba Tribe
    Death Have Mercy by Regina Carter
    Sacred Oracle by John Zorn and Bill Frisell
    Passing Time by John Renbourn
    The Thompson Fields by Maria Schneider Jazz Orchestra


  • Posted on 18 May 2018

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    The Recording of America

    Studs Terkel, born 106 years ago on this date, May 16, spent the majority of his life documenting the lives of others – very often everyday, working-class people he believed were “uncelebrated and unsung.” From coal miners and sharecroppers to gangsters and prostitutes, every American had a story to tell and Terkel wanted to hear it. After Terkel died in 2008, publisher Andre Schiffrin, who edited Terkel's writing for more than four decades, spoke with Bob about Terkel's singular gift for oral history.


  • Posted on 16 May 2018

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    This Is America

    Today, more than 45 million Americans live in poverty. The problem has been addressed countless times since the nation’s founding, but it persists, and for the poorest among us, it gets worse. America has not been able to find its way to a sustainable solution, because most of its citizens see the problem of poverty from a distance, through a distorted lens. So in 2016, we presented "Busted: America's Poverty Myths," a series exploring how our understanding of poverty is shaped not by facts, but by private presumptions, media narratives, and the tales of the American Dream. This week we're revisiting part of that series. 

    1. Matthew Desmond [@just_shelter], author of "Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City," on the myriad factors that perpetuate wealth inequality and Jack Frech [@FrechJack], former Athens County Ohio Welfare Director, on how the media's short attention span for covering inequality stymies our discourse around poverty. Listen.

    2. Jill Lepore, historian and staff writer for the New Yorker, on the long history of America's beloved "rags to riches" narrative and Natasha Boyer, a Ohio woman whose eviction was initially prevented thanks to a generous surprise from strangers, on the reality of living in poverty and the limitations of "random acts of kindness." Listen.

    3. Brooke considers the myth of meritocracy and how it obscures the reality: that one's economic success is more due to luck than motivation. Listen.

    “Busted: America’s Poverty Myths” is produced by Meara Sharma and Eve Claxton, with special thanks to Nina Chaudry. This series is produced in collaboration with WNET in New York as part of “Chasing the Dream: Poverty and Opportunity in America.” Major funding for “Chasing the Dream” is provided by the JPB Foundation, with additional funding from the Ford Foundation.


  • Posted on 11 May 2018

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    An Extended Trip Through Wild Wild Country

    Back in the early 1980s, thousands of followers of the Indian guru Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh descended upon a 64,000 acre piece of land in central Oregon to found their utopia. The Rajneeshees had millions of dollars at their disposal and an ideology based on meditation, raising consciousness and free love — one that Bhagwan’s young American and European followers found seemingly irresistible. And one that the local people in the adjacent town of Antelope, Oregon, population 40, saw as an evil threat.

    Cult or utopian project? Menace or marvel? Brothers MacLain and Chapman Way, directors of the new Netflix documentary series Wild Wild Country, leave it to their viewers to decide, presenting the story in a way that illuminates how the conventions of documentary shape our perceptions. In this expanded version of the interview, Bob speaks with the Way brothers about the challenges they faced and choices they made in presenting wildly conflicting narratives about this truly bizarre chapter in Oregonian history.


  • Posted on 08 May 2018

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    Dark Twisted Fantasy

    After last month’s terrorist attack in Toronto, the media attempted to make sense of the term “incel,” or involuntary celibate. We situate the subculture within the complex ecosystem of aggrieved men online. Plus, a conversation with the directors of the new Netflix documentary series "Wild Wild Country," about their experience revisiting a forgotten utopian project. And, a look at how the press has responded to repeated attacks from President Trump. 

    1. Jay Rosen [@jayrosen_nyu], professor of journalism at New York University, on the media losing the battle for the freedom of the press. Listen.

    2. Will Sommer [@willsommer], editor at The Hill and author of Right Richter, on the complex ecosystem of aggrieved men online. Listen.

    3. Michael Kimmel [@MichaelS_Kimmel], professor of sociology and gender studies at Stony Brook University, on the roots of masculine frustration. Listen.

    4. MacLain Way and Chapman Way, directors of the new Netflix documentary series "Wild Wild Country," on the brief and infamous story of the Rajneesh commune. Listen.

     


  • Posted on 04 May 2018

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