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On Spec Podcast

On Spec Podcast

By On Spec Podcast
A long form documentary podcast produced by independent journalists from the field, bringing stories from across the globe.

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Combating Climate Change
Some of the world’s most active climate deniers reside in the United States. Arkansas suffers from flooding and is one of the conservative red states where many farmers, who have the most to benefit from green policies, are actually voting against their best interests because of disinformation. Arkansas native and journalist Alice Driver introduces an organic farmer, who’s a climate activist, to a state senator, a climate change skeptic who also happens to be her neighbor, to see if they can find common ground.
April 17, 2021
Collaboration / Objectivity in the Times of Fake News (with Suno India)
Suno India speaks with journalists Prachi Pinglay and Kunal Shankar, who produced On Spec's Season 3, Episode 4 - Love in Times of Hate.  They discuss what the impact of fake news has been on India, and what it was like reporting and putting together the episode for On Spec. 
April 11, 2021
Love in Times of Hate
The Modi government has an agenda to make India a Hindu nation, and they have tapped into old prejudices and disinformation to brainwash influential and ordinary people into hating minorities, particularly Muslims. Indian journalist Prachi Pinglay Plumber is a Hindu married to a Muslim, and she touches on her own experience of interfaith marriage, as she tells the tale of India’s demise from a secular democracy to a country that has used fake news to fuel riots. She unravels the Delhi riots in 2020 through the lens of a Muslim family living in a Hindu neighborhood, and a right wing Hindu activist. And she asks, how is love possible in the midst of broiling animosity?
April 3, 2021
Breaking Up a Family
Since the elections in Brazil that brought Jair Bolsonaro to power,  Brazilian journalists Giovana Fleck and Carol Grune have been hearing  politicians insult women, threaten them with rape, and try to take away  their rights as women. For Carol, the polarized politics of Brazil led  to a breakup with her father. Giovana helps Carol tell her story as the  father and daughter quarantine together in Porto Alegre. Carol and her  parents are on different sides of the feminist debate in Brazil, and  they hash out their their political differences, realizing the divisions  are really about their own identities.
March 20, 2021
Russia’s Rainbow Divide
Putin’s Russia is a homophobic country. The state media spouts anti-gay rhetoric and creates fake news, Parliament passes laws that curtail LGBTQ activism, and hate crimes are on the rise. But in bigger cities, there are also thriving gay scenes, and a new generation of Russian activists is seeking to change public opinion. British journalist Theo Merz, who’s gay, takes us to Moscow where he lives across these two Russias. He explores this rainbow divide and brings two people with radically different viewpoints face to face for a discussion about sexual identity.
March 6, 2021
The Last Bus to Europe
Turkey hosts the largest number of refugees in the world, but they are facing a brutal backlash from Turkish society. In February 2020, during the onset of the pandemic, the Turkish government misinformed refugees that they could leave Turkey and enter Greece. Turkish photojournalist Özge Sebzeci boarded a bus from Istanbul to Greece filled with migrants headed to Europe, and she tells the story of their journey. Then she weaves in the Turkish narrative by getting to know an anti migration politician and a pro-refugee activist to understand how they shaped their opinions.
February 20, 2021
Season Three: Disinformation Teaser
Get ready for Season Three: Disinformation!  On Spec takes a deep dive into the global abyss of fake news, bringing you the story of how the scourge of disinformation is effecting ordinary people in seven different countries.
February 18, 2021
Collaboration / Inside Iran's Holiest Shrine
Scott Gurian, an American journalist and the voice behind Far From Home podcast, transports us to Mashad, Iran, inside a pilgrimage site where he and his fellow travelers find themselves grappling with cultural and religious differences. Then Scott tells On Spec his reflections about the trip, and how he managed to avoid Iran’s government minders to record his story.
February 3, 2021
OnSpec/08 - My Phoenix
Phoenix is one of the fastest growing cities in the U.S., an example of urbanization shaped by generations of immigrants. An Arizona native, journalist Alisa Reznick gives a tour of the old and new Greater Phoenix through the eyes of her extended family, who came three generations ago from Mexico, and new migrants struggling to get asylum.
January 11, 2021
Collaboration / Foreign Correspondence
In this collaboration with Foreign Correspondence podcast, On Spec host  Fariba Nawa gives a raw, intimate interview to Jake Spring about her  two-decade career, family, and the struggles of straddling two cultures  as a journalist. You can listen to all episodes of the podcast Foreign  Correspondence, where you will hear deep dive interviews with a diverse  group of foreign reporters.
November 1, 2020
OnSpec/Pandemic • Through Children’s Eyes
What has quarantine been like for children during the pandemic? Are they finding their creative little selves and building stronger family ties? Or turning into online zombies and losing their social skills? Or are they becoming child laborers to help their families survive? It depends on the kids and the country. On Spec host Fariba Nawa takes you inside her home in Turkey with her daughters, and then to Malawi, where they get to know a teenage girl whose life changed drastically when her school closed because of the pandemic.
September 12, 2020
Collaboration / Feminism in the Age of COVID-19 (with Continuum Collective)
In this collaboration with the Continuum Collective, we are exploring the rise in gender-based violence during the pandemic and what can be done about it. On Spec's host Fariba Nawa joins Jillian Foster, the host of the Continuum Collective's Radicals & Revolutionaries Lab podcast, and Teri Yuan, the host of the Engendered podcast.
August 16, 2020
OnSpec/Pandemic • Surviving as a Woman
With  families in lockdown, and social services unavailable, experts say  domestic violence is increasing, and being ignored during the  coronavirus outbreak. Menel Raach talks to a woman in Iraq who is trying  to find a safe place to live amid the lockdowns there, and to lawyers  and experts about what is being called a "shadow pandemic" of domestic  violence.
August 8, 2020
OnSpec/Pandemic • Rediscovering Our Kitchens
You probably know someone who has discovered their inner chef in the last few months.  In New York, photographer Jackson Krule discovered he was a baker.  Unable to go out and photograph the Orthodox Jewish community he has been documenting, he started baking challah bread at home and posting photos online.  Now it's turned into a business that delivers all over the country.  Alisa Reznick brings you that tale, and her own story of learning her family's recipes during the pandemic in Arizona.
July 7, 2020
OnSpec/Pandemic • Mental Health and the Pandemic
How is being on lock down effecting our mental health, and how are mental health professionals trying to continue to provide help when they cannot meet someone in person? On Spec intern and journalist Kasper Dilmaghani talks to therapists and one woman who opens up about her depression.  Here is the story on how the pandemic is effecting our mental health, from Tunisia, Mexico, Poland, Hong Kong and the U.S.
June 2, 2020
OnSpec/Pandemic • Prisons and the Pandemic
What if you don't have control over your own self-isolation? More than two million people are in prisons in the US, which has the highest incarceration rate in the world.  Oscar Durand speaks with Efrén Paredes, Jr about the prison where he is incarcerated serving a life sentence for a robbery and murder committed when was 15 years old.  He maintains his innocence.  In 2012, the US Supreme Court ruled life sentences without parole for minors were unconstitutional, and Efrén has been awaiting a re sentencing since then. Of the 1,400 incarcerated with him in Michigan's Lakeland Correctional Facility, more than 700 have tested positive for COVID-19, and at least 12 have died.
May 1, 2020
OnSpec/Pandemic • Alone but not Lonely
Whether you live across the street, or across the Atlantic, for many of us social distancing now means you cannot meet in person. Your family, your friends, that person you wanted to date...everything is on hold.  But across the world we are finding new ways of bridging the distances.  Margaux Benn and Menel Raach bring you stories from Canada, Lebanon, Cyprus, and Tunisia, on how we are keeping from getting lonely, even when we are alone.
April 21, 2020
OnSpec/Pandemic • Face to Face with the Virus
What's it like to have COVID19 in Turkey?  Hilaneh Mahmoudi, a freelance photographer in Istanbul, spent weeks trying to not catch it, but one day the tell tale symptoms began.  This is her audio diary, told to host Fariba Nawa, of what it's like to have the virus, and the struggle to keep those living with you safe from it as well. See the accompanying photographs here.
April 13, 2020
On Spec/Pandemic - Faith and the Pandemic
You might think you're further away from the world, but in many ways the pandemic is bringing us together. We begin with the religious, those who turn to faith and collective prayer in times of hardship. But they are not supposed to gather anymore in mosques, churches or synagogues. The entire concept of communal support in faith has been upended. Many groups are still resisting and continue to gather. But slowly, the choice is no longer available. It’s your life or place of worship. Journalist Umar Farooq talks to three people in Spain, Kashmir and the U.S., and how religious communities are finding ways to support each other without being together.
March 31, 2020
OnSpec/07 - Treasure Hunters
Journalist Margaux Benn ventures to the remote province of Nimroz, Afghanistan and follows the tracks of ancient artefacts, from the desert straddling Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan, to a shop in the capital Kabul. Some could be antiquities ending up on a shelf among fakes, then illegally taken to Dubai and sold at a high price.
March 15, 2020
OnSpec/06 - Rupi’s Journey
Oscar Durand brings you the story of a Bolivian street musician in Istanbul, who like the rest of us, wonders where the years have gone and what he will do with his life.  Oscar, a Peruvian and former engineer, found a common bond with Rupi on speaking Spanish and the meaning of life.  (Rupi's name has been changed per his request.)
February 2, 2020
OnSpec/05 - The ISIS Conundrum
As the world grapples with how to serve justice to thousands of foreign ISIS affiliates captured in Syria and Iraq, Australian journalist Tessa Fox travels to northeast Syria to meet the Australians accused of being  affiliated with the group. 
January 4, 2020
OnSpec/04 - The Badlands - Pakistan's Tribal Areas
Umar Farooq reports on how Pakistan’s tribal areas, once proud of their fierce independence, are ready to join Pakistan proper, and how youth there worked to end a century-old collective punishment law.  Locals where caught between US drones, the Taliban, and the Pakistani military.  This is the untold story of the war on terror, and what reforms in the tribal areas mean for peace in Afghanistan.
December 7, 2019
OnSpec/03 - Truffle Terror: The Iraqis Risking Their Lives in Pursuit of a Desert Delicacy
Pesha Magid travels to Anbar to bring you the story of how, and why, locals are risking kidnapping by ISIS to hunt for desert truffles. A  rare but beloved delicacy in Iraq, this was the best year for them since the 1990s. The biggest of the truffles grow far out in the  remotest regions of Anbar province — where at least a thousand ISIS  fighters are suspected to be hiding. With almost no other way of earning a living, Iraqis continue to make the dangerous journey to the desert.
November 17, 2019
OnSpec/02 - Salty Showers, Arab Spring Flowers
As protesters once again take to the streets of Baghdad, we take a step back to examine whether climate change has a hand in the political crisis in Iraq.  Shawn Carrié brings you a story through the eyes of activists that grounds the climate crisis — by transporting you to Iraq, where a water shortage led to massive protests in a country still reeling from war — and those protests brought down the government.
October 26, 2019
OnSpec/01 - Journalism on Trial
What's behind the crackdown on journalism in Turkey, and how are local journalists continuing to report? Özge Sebzeci, a Turkish photojournalist, takes us inside Turkey in an era when the country leads the world in jailing journalists. 
October 5, 2019
OnSpec/00 - Launch
Meet the On Spec team, the philosophy behind our project, and what to look forward to in Season Zero.
September 16, 2019