2020年5月8日 星期五

The Daily: When ‘Murder Hornets’ Are Better News

You know it’s bad when talking about giant, deadly hornets comes as a relief.
Chris Looney, an entomologist, displays a dead Asian giant hornet on his jacket.Ruth Fremson/The New York Times

When should The Daily not be about the pandemic? We’ve been wrestling with that question. The coronavirus is, perhaps, the biggest story we’ve covered since the show was launched in 2017. It has disrupted and upended every corner of our lives. And there is no end in sight.

We’ve developed a new series of episodes outside of our Monday through Friday production that are specifically designed to bring a dose of joy and relief to listeners living through this pandemic.

But how much should the virus and its impact dominate our day-to-day weekday programming? For much of the past two months, the answer was clear: The news, we believed, necessitated covering the crisis every single day.

We’ve debated when that might change. So, it seems, have you.

A few days ago, we received an email from a listener named Amber. The subject line was, simply, “Please.” It went on to ask for episodes that are about anything else but the coronavirus.

“Don’t you think we would like some other news than what we are living and breathing every day?”

She had a suggestion. “Hornets?”

Amber, it seems, had read our minds.

The team had been talking for days about the Asian giant hornets. The producers Annie Brown and Jessica Cheung had reached out to Mike Baker, a correspondent who had been reporting on the hornet’s arrival in the Pacific Northwest. Mike had met a beekeeper named Ted McFall.

Jessica and Annie wondered if Mr. McFall might be the way into the story for us. They called him up and decided to record the interview. As Jessica recounted, “We were on the phone with him for an hour. He made us fall in love with his bees.”

That conversation became the opening moments of Friday’s show.

From there, Annie and Jessica outlined an episode that would weave together their conversation with Mr. McFall and an interview with Mike.

The show was not about the pandemic. But the more we thought about it, the parallels between the threat of the hornets’ arrival in the United States and the threat of the coronavirus became inescapable — a comparison we acknowledged in our interview with Mike.

The responses to the episode revealed that Amber was not alone in wanting non-pandemic content on the show.

“Just finished listening,” a listener named Brian wrote on Twitter. “Amazing episode today. Especially refreshing when it is not about coronavirus.”

We hear you, Brian.

Talk to Michael on Twitter: @mikiebarb.


This week on Rabbit Hole

Susan Wojcicki, the chief executive of YouTube.Peter Prato for The New York Times

This Saturday on The Daily, you’ll hear the fourth episode of Rabbit Hole, our new narrative series about the internet. Our producer Julia Longoria shares what it was like to interview the chief executive of YouTube:

In January, when I boarded a plane to San Francisco to record our interview with Susan Wojcicki, the C.E.O. of YouTube, the Rabbit Hole team had just spent months in a YouTube stupor, wading in the darkest depths of one young man’s watch history. It was scary to see the way a human mind could seesaw into opposite ideological extremes so easily, riding on YouTube’s addictive algorithms.


We were all eager to talk to Ms. Wojcicki about what we had seen while viewing the countless videos that captivated Caleb Cain. Would the C.E.O. of one of the biggest entertainment and information websites on the internet care about a story like Caleb’s? “We have taken it seriously,” she said in our interview. Still, Kevin Roose and I left the interview feeling like we hadn’t quite had the candid conversation we were seeking.

Ms. Wojcicki noted that YouTube had made changes to its algorithm. But I knew from my own research that the algorithm was still leading me from things like local newscasts to sensational conspiracy theory videos that I would have never sought out myself.

Then the coronavirus came, and it seemed to me like YouTube was transformed overnight. I didn’t see a single one of my recommendations, even when I specifically went to the conspiracy videos I’d been watching for weeks. It made our team wonder: What’s changing at YouTube right now?

So in April, we went back to Ms. Wojcicki, this time by phone. She gave us a more complicated and nuanced picture of how YouTube has changed, and how it’s now taking aggressive measures to stem misinformation about the coronavirus.


It seemed like a paradigm shift was under way at the platform. But — as you’ll hear over the next few weeks — the act of removing content after spending years spreading it might leave things even messier than before.

Follow Julia on Twitter: @hooliwho.

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.”

Our guide to tea and toast

“Quite honestly, one of the most disheartening things about American life is not the politics, not the incredible social division. It’s the way so many of you make tea,” said Mark Thompson, C.E.O. of The Times.Joshua Bright for The New York Times

On last Friday’s “A Bit of Relief,” Kim Severson, a food writer at The Times, and Mark Thompson, our C.E.O., talked us through how to make their favorite snacks: a slice of cinnamon sugar toast and a cup of strong British tea.

Listeners from all over the world responded. Some just wanted to say thanks: “It was like being covered in a giant, warm, and comforting hug,” Erin of White Rock, Canada, said.

Others shared their own methods of making tea: There was “absolutely NO mention of heating the pot first! My mother would have knocked my block off if I forgot that step!” one listener in Australia wrote.

There are, of course, millions of ways to make tea and toast. So to help you find your own perfect combination, we’ve published the recipes from the episode and created a guide to British tea.

We hope this will help you answer the question posed by Gerry, a listener from England: “What is the right way of making a good old cup? Solve that and you will solve what is the right way of living in this world.”

On The Daily this week

Monday: I came to America thinking I can never go through hell.” We hear from a Sudanese refugee who contracted the virus from a pork factory — now the radiating core of South Dakota’s outbreak.

Tuesday:I am finding myself just a little more overwhelmed with each passing day,” a college senior writes to her professor. Nicholas Casey on how the virus is putting inequalities among college students on full display.

Wednesday: Nick Fandos on why the Senate was so determined to return to session this week: “Certainly they would not want to be accused of sitting on the sidelines while thousands of Americans are dying a day.”

Thursday: The Trump administration is pushing a theory that links the coronavirus outbreak to a lab in Wuhan. Is there evidence? Julian Barnes investigates.

Friday: We didn’t stop the coronavirus. But maybe we can stop the murderous hornets. Mike Baker takes us to the frontlines of the fight against the predators decapitating bee populations in Washington State.

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.

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