2020年4月24日 星期五

The Daily: A Funeral, Reinvented for the Pandemic

We set out to tell the story of how grieving is changing in this moment.
Wayne Irwin and his wife, Flora May Litt-Irwin, at their wedding in 1999.Wayne Irwin

Many reporters at The Times have specialties beyond their official assignments. Catherine Porter’s is death.

Not so much how people die, but how death itself is treated, processed and honored in our world.

It was a subject she first explored on the show in 2017, in an episode about a man undertaking assisted suicide in Canada and holding a “living wake” for his friends and family. She returned to it later that year with an episode about mass burials after a devastating earthquake in Haiti. And she touched on it this morning, in an episode about how funerals are changing in the era of the coronavirus.

Today’s show tells the story of Wayne Irwin, a Canadian pastor who has presided over hundreds of funerals, searching for the right way to honor his wife, Flora May, and bring together their community without violating social distancing rules or risking infections.

Flora in the 1960s, when she was in her 30s and teaching music.

Catherine and Lynsea Garrison, a senior producer at The Times, set out to tell the story of Wayne’s preparations for Flora’s funeral and to capture the event itself.

The first question, of course, was whether Wayne would want to share such an intimate experience with the world. It turned out that he did.

“He wanted to talk with us and opened his world to us,” Lynsea recalled, “because he truly does hope this helps other people find their own way in this moment of grief.”

Catherine and Lynsea began by recording a conversation with Wayne the day before the funeral. The next morning, Lynsea watched the online visitation hour on Zoom and Catherine watched the funeral video that Wayne had created. Lynsea recorded every second of both events. Afterward, they called up funeral participants to record their reactions and they interviewed Wayne again about the entire experience. In the end, there were hours of tape chronicling Wayne’s poignant experiment in grieving.

Wayne speaking in the funeral video for Flora.Wayne Irwin

Reflecting on the episode, Lynsea marveled at Wayne’s creativity: “It took Wayne, a bearer and an ambassador of tradition, to break that tradition and create something new,” she said.

Talk to Michael on Twitter: @mikiebarb.


A look inside Rabbit Hole

A sample of Caleb Cain’s viewing history on YouTube.Clockwise from top left: Lauren Southern, Stefan Molyneux, Paul Joseph Watson and Rebel Media

This week on Rabbit Hole, our new narrative series about the internet, Kevin Roose and Andy Mills trace a young man’s descent into YouTube’s darkest corners. What was it like to watch four years of someone else’s YouTube viewing history? Here’s what Kevin and Andy had to say:

Kevin: Some reporters hit the jackpot in the form of a golden tip from an inside source or a trove of classified documents. One of the biggest reporting jackpots of my career, and the centerpiece of this week’s Rabbit Hole episode, came in the form of a 1.2 megabyte file called takeout.zip.


Anyone with a YouTube account can download their history by using Google’s Takeout feature. After Andy Mills and I had spent two days interviewing Caleb in person, he agreed to share a file of his history with us so that we could trace his path down a YouTube rabbit hole, video by video. It was an incredible source of information, and I knew it would allow us to figure out exactly what sequence of videos had led him to the far right.

But there was a problem. How do you watch 12,000 YouTube videos, some of which are multiple hours long?

Andy and I enlisted the help of the producers Julia Longoria and Sindhu Gnanasambandan. Together, we spent weeks combing through as many videos as we could, looking for the right tape to accompany Caleb’s story in audio form.


It’s a fascinating way to try to understand both one person and also the revolutionary technology that guided him. Looking at Caleb’s YouTube history let me not only experience Caleb’s taste from specific moments in time, but also how those tastes were fed and then evolved, as YouTube’s A.I. got to know Caleb better and better.

On top of feeling a deeper sense of understanding for Caleb, it also caused me to look more closely at my own internet diet. I started to think about how my tastes are being fed by the A.I.s that run Twitter and the other websites I visit every day. It’s been a reminder that Caleb’s story is not powerful because it is an outlier, but because it is an amplifier. This is happening, in a way, to all of us.

Talk to Kevin and Andy on Twitter: @kevinroose and @AndyMillsNYT.

New episodes of “Rabbit Hole” drop on Thursdays. Look out for them on the “Rabbit Hole” podcast feed or at nytimes.com/rabbithole. They’ll also be featured as Saturday episodes on “The Daily.”

As the pandemic continues to reshape our lives and our routines, many of us are facing unexpected challenges in our personal relationships.

We’d like to know: What is one question you’d want to ask a therapist right now about a relationship in your life?

Call us and leave us a voice message at 646-598-6012. Start your message by introducing yourself with your name, your age and where you’re calling from. Then, please tell us your story, and let us know what your question is.

We may call you to follow up on your story, and we may use your message to pose your question to a therapist on a future episode of The Daily.

Before you call, please have a look at our Reader Submission Terms. By calling and leaving us a message, you agree that you’ve read, understand and accept our Reader Submission Terms in relation to the content and information you provide in your message

On ‘The Daily’ this week

Monday: When the U.S. reopens from lockdown, what will our new normal look like? Donald G. McNeil Jr. paints a picture of the next few years.

Tuesday: It’s been a blockbuster week for the Supreme Court, now ruling from home. Adam Liptak on the latest rulings, and their importance during the pandemic.

Wednesday: Jim Rutenberg on the lockdown protests erupting across the U.S.: “A lot of very powerful people are invested in seeing these protests continue and grow and ultimately succeed.”

Thursday:They are killing us. What are we supposed to do? Alan Feuer spoke to a “medically vulnerable” resident at Rikers Island, who was denied release from the jail. He now has the virus.

Friday: He was a pastor. She was a poet. They found a second chance at love and traveled the world together. This is how Wayne memorialized Flora’s life over Zoom after she died in his arms.

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

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