On The Media

On The Media, hosted by Bob Garfield and Brooke Gladstone, is America's only national radio program devoted to media criticism and analysis, lifting the veil on how the media works.

Recent Episodes

You Have To Laugh Not To Cry

Brazil's crises have been very good for Sensacionalista, a site that's based on The Onion and now one of the most popular "news" sites in the country. Two years ago, the group had 30,000 likes on Facebook. Today, it has 2.8 million

At times, real Brazilian headlines can seem absurd. For example, military police killed a jaguar, the national animal, at an Olympic-torch lighting ceremony; the interim president's new cabinet only has white men; and just weeks before the Olympics, the tourism minister has resigned.

Bob met co-founders Nelito Fernandes and Martha Mendonca at their home in Rio de Janeiro (they're married) to hear about how the Brazilian public has been reading the news through the lens of satire -- and what news is too awful even for jokes. 


The Country of the Future

OTM is in Brazil this week. We delve into the web of challenges ensnaring the country: a recession, crime waves, corruption scandals, the Zika virus... all in the run-up to the Olympic Games. Plus, the complex crises facing the media industry at a time when rigorous reporting is more essential than ever. 

And, when 30,000 journalists descend on the country from around the world in just a couple of weeks, many will likely produce facile reports about Rio's notorious favelas. We hear from activists and community journalists trying to wrest back the narrative and spark a debate about policing and race not unlike what's unfolding in America. 

Breaking News Consumer's Handbook: Bearing Witness Edition

The deaths of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and Philando Castile in Falcon Heights, Minnesota, were both captured on video. So were the deaths of Walter Scott, Eric Garner, and so many others. That’s not new. But technology has become more and more sophisticated, and so have the bystanders using it, primed by grim history to turn the camera on, and, increasingly, involve an audience. We explore the role of Facebook Live in the events of the last week and offer you our Breaking News Consumer's Handbook: Bearing Witness Edition, for guidance on how to film the police, wisely and within your rights.

Brooke speaks with journalist Carlos Miller of Photography is Not A Crime, former police officer and current law professor Seth Stoughton, and Jennifer Carnig, former communications director for the New York Civil Liberties Union.

Find the ACLU's apps for recording police action here




Now You See Me

The Brexit fallout continues. Before he was mayor of London, Boris Johnson covered the EU... badly. We hear how his reporting created a caricature of Europe, and why that story about Brits Googling the EU is too good to be true.

Plus: two stories of transparency -- good news on FOIA, and bad news on dark money. 

And speaking of transparency: do we know enough about the gene editing program CRISPR? Plus, Brooke explores what we learn about cloning from movies and t.v. shows, including Orphan Black (!)

From Rubella to Roe v. Wade

This week, the Supreme Court upheld constitutional protections for abortion rights. 

To mark the occasion we have a story about the history of abortion in the US that first aired last winter, when the spread of Zika and the resulting deformities in newborns was causing panic across South and Central America. Abortion is illegal in those traditionally Catholic countries, but so many women were giving birth to babies with microcephaly and the brain damage associated with it, that the UN high commissioner for human rights urged a widespread repeal of abortion bans.

You may be surprised to know this wasn’t the first time an epidemic influenced the abortion debate. Leslie Reagan of the University of Illinois says it happened in the US, 50 years ago -- and the epidemic was Rubella, or German measles


The Great Divide

Democrats in the House of Representatives staged a dramatic sit-in this week to protest inaction on gun legislation, but are they just preaching to the choir? This week, we look at bridging the gap over guns in America and how the media can better understand both sides. Plus, new algorithms claim to provide more accurate models for policing and sentencing, but they actually might be making things worse.