Why Bay State Growers Of Cranberries Are Being Pushed To The Brink of Failure

Our newest Bostonomix reporter, Adrian Ma, worked on a series that will have you "seeing red." His reporting focuses on the unlikely rise — and unexpected fall — of the U.S. cranberry market in China.

Part I of the story looked at the trade war's impact on the growing Chinese market for U.S. cranberries. 

Here's an excerpt:

In 2008, a Massachusetts grower could expect to fetch around $58.60 per barrel of fruit, according to data from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). By 2018, the price fell to $22.30 — a 62% drop.
To make matters worse, the ongoing trade war between Washington and Beijing has put a tight squeeze on international cranberry sales.
As the Trump administration prepares for a new round of trade talks, Chinese tariffs on American cranberries remain in place, adding to the economic pain growers are feeling.

The second part of the series goes back to the late 1950s when fear over a perceived cancer-causing chemical nearly ruined cranberry sales. 

Here's an excerpt:

Part of what made the Cranberry Scare of 1959 so hard on producers like Decas was timing. Back then, almost all cranberries were sold around Thanksgiving or Christmas. As a result, the Cranberry Scare was a wake up call for the industry: If it was going to survive another unexpected crisis, it needed to spread out the risk by getting consumers to buy cranberries year-round.

This reportage was made possible through the International Center for Journalists’ Bringing Home the World fellowship.

The series aired in four parts. Listen to all the parts here:

Seeing Red

Greta Thunberg, Climate Strike & More: Follow 'Covering Climate Now'

WBUR is one of more than 250 news organizations around the world that have committed to running a week’s worth of climate coverage in the lead-up to the United Nations Climate Action Summit in New York on Sept. 23, 2019.

The "Covering Climate Now" initiative, launched by the Columbia Journalism Review and The Nation earlier this year, is a project aimed at encouraging news organizations across the US and abroad to raise their game when it comes to climate coverage. During the week of Sept. 15, these news outlets will emphasize climate stories and share with a combined audience of over a billion people worldwide.

Close the gap, we urged them, between the size of the story and the ambition of your efforts. Try it for a week, then report back on what you learned.
— 'A new beginning for climate reporting,' Columbia Journalism Review

WBUR is one of 250 other news outlets participating in the Covering Climate Now initiative (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)
WBUR is one of 250 other news outlets participating in the Covering Climate Now initiative (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)

As part of the initiative, WBUR is participating station-wide with the hashtag #CoveringClimateNow — stories are pouring in from Earthwhile, Here & Now, Radio Boston and On Point. 

Read the latest climate coverage from WBUR here.

Covering Climate Now

Where To Find Endless Thread And Reddit at ONA19

Amory Sivertson, left, and Ben Brock Johnson, at their AMA (Ask Me Anything) at SXSW in Austin, Tuesday, March 16, 2018. (Michelle Lozzi/Reddit)
Amory Sivertson, left, and Ben Brock Johnson, at their AMA (Ask Me Anything) at SXSW in Austin, Tuesday, March 16, 2018. (Michelle Lozzi/Reddit)

WBUR journalists are in New Orleans this week for the annual Online News Association conference. Among them is Ben Brock Johnson, who covers tech for NPR & WBUR's Here & Now and hosts the Endless Thread podcast with Reddit.  Ben's a special guest at the Reddit booth on Thursday, September 12 -- here's where and when to find them at #ONA19:

11:30am-12:30pm: Reddit: The Highly-Engaging Content Source That You May Be Overlooking (Rhythms II + III - 2nd Floor | Sheraton)

2:00pm-3:00pm: Visit Ben at the Reddit booth (#209)

Endless Thread is a finalist for an Excellence in Audio Digital Storytelling Award at ONA! Click here to learn more about the nominated special series, Infectious: The Strange Past and Surprising Present of Vaccines — and Anti-Vaxxers.

How Your Voice Can Help Impact Election News Coverage

WBUR Seeks Input for Election 2020

In an effort to identify issues and stories that matter most to people — and report on them — WBUR's politics team has launched an effort seeking to bring the station's election coverage as close as possible to meeting the concerns of the voters it serves.

According to Senior Political Reporter Anthony Brooks, this means doubling down on what political journalists do best. Rather than just focusing on what the candidates are saying, on the pundits and the polls, WBUR intends to frame its reporting around the question: To what extent are the candidates responding to what people want?

To kick-off this effort, WBUR conducted an online survey of users and commissioned a poll. Learn more about how you can help impact WBUR's Election 2020 coverage, the WBUR Poll findings and other early insights shared on WBUR's Morning Edition here. Other ways to stay connected:

Parents. Kids. Fans of Great Storytelling: We're Back!

WBUR, announces the return of Circle Round, the popular storytelling podcast for children ages 4-10. The podcast’s third season launches today with “Curious Boots,” a Norwegian adventure tale starring Colin Hanks (Life in Pieces, Jumanji 2) as a precocious younger brother whose curiosity is rewarded by the queen.

Created and produced by parents of young children, Circle Round adapts folktales from around the world into sound- and music-rich radio plays for kids ages 4 to 10. Each 10- to 20-minute episode explores issues like kindness, persistence and generosity. Every episode ends with an activity that inspires a deeper conversation between children and grown-ups. New episodes drop Tuesdays at 3 p.m. ET.

The new season of Circle Round will feature 35 episodes with stories and performers such as:

  • Rabbit's Wish: In this story with roots in West Africa, the Caribbean and Latin America, Ryan Michelle Bathe (Life in Pieces, First Wives Club) plays a clever rabbit who discovers that power and strength aren't just about physical size.
  • The Great Acorn Robbery: Katy Mixon (American Housewife, Minions) and Diedrich Bader (American Housewife, Veep) headline this Seneca tale about an industrious squirrel and the sneaky critters who pilfer her prized acorns.
  • One Speckled Hen: 2019 Tony Award winner André De Shields (Hadestown, The Full Monty) stars in this Jewish tale that tests the old adage, "Finders keepers, losers weepers."

Circle Round is produced by WBUR, in conjunction with Sheir & Shim LLC founders Rebecca Sheir and Eric Shimelonis. Writer and host Rebecca Sheir guides listeners through each story as award-winning composer Eric Shimelonis creates the accompanying musical score and sound.

Circle Round recently released The Music of Circle Round Volume 1 featuring all the music from season one of the podcast, plus the Circle Round theme song. The album features the mbira from “The Lion’s Whisker,” the viola da gamba from “The Barber’s Secret,” the trombone from “The Goat in the Garden,” and more.  The Music of Circle Round Volume 1 can be purchased on iTunes, Amazon and the CD Baby Store.

Episodes from all three seasons of Circle Round are free and available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, wbur.org/circleround or wherever you listen to podcasts. You can follow the program on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Circle Round Releases Its First Soundtrack Album!

Circle Round — the award-winning children’s storytelling podcast from WBUR, Boston’s NPR News Station — recently released its very first soundtrack album!

Circle Round CD cover
Circle Round CD cover

Every week on Circle Round, kids and the grown-ups they love enjoy folktales from around the world adapted as radio plays: all featuring original music by composer Eric Shimelonis. Eric scores each story with a different solo instrument: one that reflects the tale’s cultural origins, or possesses the right dramatic sound.

While you’ll recognize instruments like the piano, upright bass and xylophone, many may be new to you, like the ney, mbira and pipa. As a result, whether you’re 3 or 93, 'The Music of Circle Round Volume I' provides a wealth of opportunities for cultural diversity, education, and timeless entertainment.

Download 'The Music of Circle Round Vol I' as a digital album, and/or purchase hard-copy CDs here: iTunesAmazon, CD Baby

Note: The Music of Circle Round Volume I features the Circle Round theme song, along with the original score from every story in Season 1 of the podcast. Volume 2 (featuring music from Season 2) and Volume 3 (featuring music from Season 3) will be available at a later date.

Expand Our Local Journalism Through 'The Campaign For WBUR' By Taking This Poll

As our community turns to WBUR to satisfy its growing hunger for independent, high-quality local journalism, we will broaden and deepen our coverage, fulfilling our vital role in culture and conversation.

The Campaign for WBUR, our first-ever capital campaign, is investing in local journalism, content innovation and the station's first public convening space.

WBUR is your public radio station – and we want to hear from you to know what you’re looking for in a newsroom.

Thank you for taking this poll and joining us as we create a great future for public radio!

'Endless Thread' Solves A Wacky Internet Mystery Thousands Wanted Answered!

Ben 'Geedis' Johnson and Amory 'Geedis' Sivertson - co-hosts of Endless Thread - dropped their latest episode 'Geedis' on Aug. 23 revealing the Reddit mystery more than 16,000 Geeders were trying to solve for the last two years!

Geedis (Courtesy Stacen Goldman/Framingham History Center)
Geedis (Courtesy Stacen Goldman/Framingham History Center)

Here's some background from our very own Amory Siverston:

This started with a comedian named Nate Fernald, who stumbled upon some Geedis enamel pins on eBay in 2017. He thought they were intriguing and bought them, without having any idea who Geedis is and where it came from. He couldn’t find ANYTHING online about Geedis, so he took to social media to find answers, and had a story published by Atlas Obscura about the mystery of Geedis.

The mystery got picked up by people on Reddit, which led to the creation of the Geedis subreddit, where people post theories about who this character is, what “The Land of Ta” is, where it all came from, etc. This subreddit now has more than 16,000 people! There’s also a smaller  Land of Ta subreddit, devoted to spin-off art. Someone (not a redditor, I believe) figured out that Geedis came from THIS sticker sheet – The Land of Ta – printed by Dennison in 1981. As far as anyone can tell, The Land of Ta wasn’t a TV show or movie or book. There are two other Land of Ta-related sticker sheets though, also printed by Dennison. THIS one, and THIS one. Redditors have hypothesized that the “Women of Ta” sticker sheet was designed by a different artist.

Nate Fernald now has 80+ Geedis pins. We still don’t know when/why the pins were made or by whom, and why there only appear to be Geedis pins and no pins of the other characters. We also don’t know whether The Land of Ta was intended to be more than just a sticker sheet, but people believe all of these answers lie with the artist who designed the stickers. Redditors STILL don’t know who the artist is… BUT I DO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Have we piqued your curiosity? Find out who the artist behind the Geedis pin is on Endless Thread's new episode —

Listen Here

Reddit links:

Further Reading:

Zeninjor Enwemeka Of WBUR's Bostonomix To Join The Former Fellows Panel At NEFAI 2019

From Sept. 22 - 24, journalists from around New England will gather at Northeastern University in Boston to learn about public records and the latest investigative and database reporting techniques at The New England First Amendment Institute 2019 (NEFAI). Our very own Zeninjor Enwemeka, a reporter on WBUR’s Bostonomix team, will be attending the Former Fellows Panel at the institute on Sept. 23.

Zeninjor Enwemeka/WBUR
Zeninjor Enwemeka/WBUR

Enwemeka was a NEFAI Fellow in 2016, chosen by the New England First Amendment Coalition (NEFAC)—a broad-based organization of people who believe in the power of transparency in a democratic society. NEFAI is open each year to 25 New England journalists, providing support and training to become well-versed in the freedom of information laws and accomplished investigative reporters.

As a former fellow, Enwemeka will join former institute fellows who will share their experiences post-NEFAI and explain how to best use the skills learned during the program.

The panel is from 3:15 p.m. to 4:15 p.m. on Sept. 23.

More about Zeninjor Enwemeka: Before joining WBUR, she worked at The Boston Globe as a breaking news writer for Boston.com. She also spent several years as a news/homepage producer for the website. Zeninjor was part of the 2014 Pulitzer Prize-winning team for The Boston Globe's breaking news coverage of the Boston Marathon bombings.

She was also an adjunct lecturer at Boston University, where she taught a class on multimedia and online journalism. Zeninjor is a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. She serves as vice president of the Boston Association of Black Journalists.

Q&A With Tonya Mosley, 'Here & Now’s' New Third Co-Host

On Aug. 9, Tonya Mosley started the next chapter of her career as the new third co-host of Here & Now — the weekday news and talk program distributed on more than 475 NPR stations nationwide. We talk to her about her podcast "Truth Be Told," her vision for Here & Now and more.

What excites you about the opportunity to join Here & Now? 

Here & Now is the midday show where we learn about the news as it happens, and our goal is to provide context, understanding, information and occasionally, a bit of whimsy. Robin Young, my co-host, said something funny the other day: Morning Edition is basically putting the boat out in the harbor. We, at Here & Now, are rowing the boat thru the waters and All Things Considered, is bringing the boat in. This is a powerful analogy, because not only are we taking listeners through the news as it happens, we are providing order and understanding of what’s happening all around us, and to us. We don’t want listeners to feel like they are on a bumpy ride. We want them to walk away armed with the facts they need to make sense of the world.

Tonya Mosley (Courtesy: Liz Linder for WBUR)
Tonya Mosley (Courtesy: Liz Linder for WBUR)

On a personal level, I am excited because I am just an unbelievably nosy and curious person—if I wasn't a journalist I would be a private investigator or detective. I am always digging! So the personal fulfillment for doing this show, are a couple of things: 1) I can fulfill my innate curiosity about the world and serve as a proxy to the listeners, holding truth to power. 2) I can share with people different insights to help keep them informed. Everybody has a purpose in this world and I believe mine is to shed light in dark spaces.

What story that you’ve reported on in the last few years has shaped you as a journalist, and how?

It’s very hard to quantify this because I’ve reported on many stories over the years but the stories that mean the most to me are the ones that have not only directly impacted people’s lives but also the stories that have made a change for the greater good of society.

Several years ago I followed young transgender children as they were coming into their identities and it was at a time when we weren’t having these discussions. I felt proud that I was part of this process of helping people understand what this was, to have a language for it... put a name to it. I learned so much and heard from so many viewers—I was on television then—who were saying “oh, now I kind of get it or now I understand it or thank you for shedding light on this”.

At a time before marijuana was decriminalized in many states, I did an investigation in the state of Washington which took a look at how easy it was for people to obtain medical marijuana prescriptions. Because of my reporting, the state passed a measure which secured loopholes making it harder for people who were trying to get those prescriptions. A few years later the state of Washington decriminalized marijuana all together but this investigation showcased the power of media, sometimes our stories can be a driving force in changing laws.

Truth Be Told is an advice podcast, by and for people of color. Can you share insights or lessons from hosting Truth Be Told that will be valuable to your success in hosting a newsmagazine like Here & Now?

Truth Be Told is a podcast that was created solely through insights from listeners. My producers and I held listening sessions where we asked listeners of public radio what they wanted from an advice podcast. Based on listener insights, we created a show that tackled some of the most pressing issues people of color face in this country.

Of course, in season one we only scratched the surface, “people of color” is an umbrella term, and it doesn’t even come close to scratching the surface of the complexities of experiences and identity. But what Truth Be Told has done is to begin to have discussions that are rooted in truth and value for the listener. The experience of producing and hosting Truth Be Told has deepened my mission at Here & Now to elevate voices we’ve never heard before, and shed light and nuance - sometimes issues aren’t simply black and white, for and against. Conversation allows us to unpack this reality.

At the core of its mission, public radio is meant to push us beyond our bubble, so that we have a deeper understanding of the world and ourselves.

Tonya Mosley, co-host of Here & Now

In the current media landscape, what makes Here & Now special?

Here & Now has a dedicated audience—the ears of a lot of people in the United States who listen to public radio—these are typically individuals who are good people, who want to make a change, who want to be informed. That's why I think it's such a privilege and a special show because I get to talk to people who want to learn, who want to know more about the world and want to contribute.

How has covering Silicon Valley (Bureau Chief, KQED) these last few years prepared you for this job?

During my time as the Silicon Valley bureau chief, I led a team covering technology and its impact on society. Technology is vast, wide, deep and complex. Collectively we are taking a more critical view of the role technology plays in society. As bureau chief, I was in charge of setting the tone and direction of our coverage. This leadership role prepared me for the fast-paced nature of Here & Now, where hosts work with producers throughout the day to set the direction of coverage. This role requires a deep news sense, an understanding of complex topics and the ability to learn very quickly the things you don’t know.

Broadening beyond my time in Silicon Valley, I’d also say my entire career has led me to host Here & Now. For the last 20+ years, I’ve had to become a quick study, covering everything from aviation to immigration, technology, science, religion, crime, law...the list goes on and on. I’ve been a television producer, reporter, anchor and manager. If you were to roll all of these positions together, you’d produce “host” for a show like Here & Now.

Tell us about your time at WBUR as a reporter...

I was the senior education reporter for WBUR’s Edify, which is still the place you go to for education coverage across Boston and beyond. Being on the education beat was an amazing experience because Boston has such a rich history when it comes to education. Not only are there a host of colleges and universities that make up this area but the foundation of public education as we know it started here.

During my time with Edify, I took a look at what’s working and what’s not. It was a phenomenal and enriching experience. Doing this work with all of these phenomenal colleagues is probably the reason why I think I’m back!

What’s your pitch to new listeners about why they should listen to Here & Now?

For new listeners, I think you should tune in to what is already a stellar program. Every day, these excellent journalists and the Here & Now staff scour news events throughout the world, they are toiling through stories and they take seriously the essential information that people need to know.

As we continue, you'll be able to hear a broader scope of voices from the west. You'll be able to hear the enriching discussions you’re used to, but also as a three-host team you’ll hear us out in the field, on the ground more. This will allow us to travel the nation, hear stories from people and share greater insights on the places we've heard about but never really been.

Where do you think mainstream media is headed? Are there any upsides?

There are so many places now that people can go to, to get their news. We have to rethink our role as journalists and factor in what people want. We have to listen to our audiences. If they are telling us there is a certain way they want to consume our news, we have to give it to them that way. There may be a future where folks say we don't want to have a radio host talking to us. We have to be nimble enough to say “Well, what is our role?”

To be a true journalist is to adapt to the ways people need the information and so that's where I see the landscape moving to. Back in the day, we told people what's important but now it is just as important for us to listen to what people are telling us is important. Balancing this is like walking a tightrope, our number one role is to be factual and fair, while also providing people with essential information about what’s happening in the world, the way they want it.

Co-hosted by award-winning journalists Robin YoungJeremy Hobson and Tonya Mosley, Here & Now's daily lineup includes interviews with newsmakers, NPR reporters and contributors, plus innovators and artists from across the U.S. and around the globe.

Live On WBUR, Mon – Fri, 12–2 p.m. ET