2019年5月31日 星期五

The Daily: The Guests You’ve Met Before

Stepping into the same cab, but for a new story.
View in Browser | Add nytdirect@nytimes.com to your address book.

Friday, May 31, 2019

One of our most memorable guests was a cab driver. We caught up with him this week (though not in this cab).

One of our most memorable guests was a cab driver. We caught up with him this week (though not in this cab). Kholood Eid

Michael Barbaro

Michael Barbaro

There's a long tradition in journalism of meeting people, interviewing them, telling their stories and then moving on. Not out of any coldness or insensitivity, but because the next story must be told. The news is relentless that way. It leaves little time for following up or checking back in.
We've tried to break that cycle on the show.
On Tuesday, you heard from Nicolae Hent, a New York City taxi driver. It was not our first conversation with him. We first met Nicolae in May 2018, when Theo Balcomb, Jessica Cheung, Annie Brown and I loaded into his taxi outside the Times building.
During a long drive around Manhattan, he told us the story of a taxi industry beleaguered by competition from apps like Uber and Lyft, which had, he believed, undercut the value of his taxi medallion. The financial situation had become so dire that his best friend, a fellow cabdriver named Nicanor, had taken his life. It was a powerful episode that changed how many of us saw the taxi industry.
Then it was back to the news. The U.S. pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal. A historic summit with North Korea was scheduled. Riots broke out in Gaza. We moved on from Nicolae.
But we wondered how he was doing. So when our colleague Brian Rosenthal investigated why the value of taxi medallions had plunged over the past decade and discovered a complex story of predatory lending and reckless government promotion, Lisa Tobin and Jessica Cheung had an idea: tell that story and check back in with Nicolae in a single episode. It turned out Nicolae had followed Brian's reporting and was eager to discuss it. So we reached him inside his taxi and reinterviewed him.
Over the past two years, we've followed up with several memorable guests: Sheriff Mark Napier, who polices a vast stretch of Arizona at the Mexican border; David Green, the founder of Hobby Lobby, who took a fight over Christian values all the way to the Supreme Court; and Mitch Jacques, a doctor in coal country whose patients rely on the Affordable Care Act.
In each case, by returning to a familiar figure who had already told us his story, it felt as if we could drill even deeper, explore greater nuance and connect more dots. By the end of our second interview with Nicolae, it was clear that his own understanding of what had happened to his industry had changed since we met him — and with it, so had ours.
So the question is: Who do you want us to follow up with next?
Talk to Michael on Twitter: @mikiebarb.
So what about Uber and Lyft
On Tuesday, Brian Rosenthal told us about the taxi industry's reckless loan practices that devastated a generation of New York City taxi drivers. While the industry's leaders got rich, thousands of drivers paid the price, he told us. In response, some of you wrote in saying that we let ride-hail companies off the hook. So we asked Brian how he thinks Uber and Lyft had a role in the crisis:
"Everybody who has played Jenga knows it's largely an exercise in scapegoating. In the game, players take turns removing the building blocks of a tower until one of the removals causes the tower to fall. The player who removes that block is deemed the loser. But do they really deserve the blame?
"I want to be clear: Ride-hailing has hurt yellow taxicabs. As I said on 'The Daily,' government data clearly shows that on a per-cab basis, New York City taxi revenue has dropped 10 percent since Uber arrived.
"Some people have criticized our use of that statistic. They have said the impact could look a little bigger if we compared overall industry revenue, changed the time frame or factored in taxes and tips. They have argued that 10 percent is huge in a low-margin field and that a business is not just about revenue.
"Instead of debating that number, I think it's important to focus on the wrongdoing we uncovered: We found industry leaders manipulated the medallion market to inflate prices, and virtually everybody in the industry agreed prices never should have hit $1 million. We found many medallion buyers had to sign reckless loans that made them forfeit almost all their income, indefinitely. And we found the whole thing worked only if prices kept skyrocketing forever, a dynamic some compared to a Ponzi scheme.
"The taxi industry was inflated, exploitative and unsustainable. Ride-hailing may have 'caused' the industry to fall. But does it really deserve the blame?"
She's the reason for this newsletter
Before Samantha Henig, there was no audio team. She's moving on to new things, but not without a quick note of thanks from Lisa Tobin:
"If you're reading this newsletter, it's because of Samantha Henig. Back in 2017, The New York Times asked her to look into creating an audio team. Two and a half years later, here we are, nearly 30 of us, and we're growing.
"I was initially skeptical that The Times — this incredible force in print journalism — could succeed in audio. But the first time I spoke to Samantha, sitting at a picnic table in the middle of Times Square, I immediately understood her vision, and she convinced me that it just might work. She's the reason I came on, as her partner in building a brand new department from scratch. It was scary, and hard and, because I got to do it with Samantha, incredibly fun. She was key to shaping high-level editorial and business strategy, recruiting so many of the incredibly talented producers and editors on this team, but she also never shied away from unglamorous work — in the early months of 'The Daily,' she woke up at 5 a.m. every morning to do a final listen and hit publish on the episode.
"Now that we're off and running, she's moving on to new challenges and opportunities. We all — this team and everyone who listens to 'The Daily' — owe her a gigantic thank you for getting us here. We will miss you, Samantha! It's hard to imagine how we are going to do this without you."
On 'The Daily' this week

That's it for The Daily newsletter. See you next week.


Have thoughts about the show? Tell us what you think at thedaily@nytimes.com.


Were you forwarded this newsletter? Subscribe here to get it delivered to your inbox.


Love podcasts? Join The New York Times Podcast Club on Facebook.



Review our newsletter help page or contact us for assistance.


Get unlimited access to NYTimes.com   and our NYTimes apps. Subscribe »

Copyright 2019 The New York Times Company
620 Eighth Avenue New York, NY 10018