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  • Writer's pictureNewsmakers with JR

Press Clips: Josh Launches Podcast, Nick Scoops about Nick, Mo-Jo Nets Cash for Businesses & Workers

Few had heard of the coronavirus last winter, when SB newshound Josh Molina began doing interviews for a new podcast focused on local planning, politics and business issues.

Now, the pandemic is the only news story there is.

So Josh, who launched his "Santa Barbara Talks" podcast on Monday, characteristically hustled to get a batch of new conversations in the can, asking prominent community leaders to think and talk about how the epochal virus will re-make and re-shape the housing and development concerns on which the show still will largely focus.

In an interview with Newsmakers on Monday, Josh, while making clear that his new, individually branded enterprise is not about the coronavirus, spoke about how the current public health emergency and economic shutdown has raised the stakes and broadened the scope of the kinds of urban policy and politics stories he's been covering for 20 years.

"This is something I'm lovin'," he told us.

The "Santa Barbara Talks" lineup of guests kicks off this week with Bob Stout, State Street business owner and chair of the Downtown Association; city council member and millennial mouthpiece Meagan Harmon; SBCC Foundation CEO Geoff Green; ace architect Brian Cearnal; Wendy Sims-Moten, school board member and Executive Director of First 5 SB County, among others.

After a few minutes of plenty-of-free-parking discussion of the podcast, we also chopped it with Josh about the latest happenings at City Hall, from a controversial new lease for the Paseo Nuevo mall to the campaign aimed at ousting City Administrator Paul Casey.

You can hear our podcast about Josh's podcast here, and see the full Zoom chat by clicking below.

News that stays news. The Indy's Nick Welsh scooped the world on the abrupt departure from the morning paper of editor-in-chief Nick Masuda over a dispute over a front page editorial by the owner, which characterized California's Covid-19 shutdown as "tyranny" worthy of the "Soviet Union or Nazi Germany."

Welsh's piece not only did boffo box office on social media - the last time we checked it had been shared 61 times off the Indy's Facebook page, where it had over 200 comments -- but also got picked up and reported with credit by the By-God Los Angeles Times.

The editorial "appeared the same day a caravan of protestors — wielding and waving their red, white, and blues as rhetorical cudgels — circled De la Guerra Plaza in their vehicles, honking their horns to protest a host of social distancing restrictions imposed by Governor Gavin Newsom and Santa Barbara County Public Health Officer Dr. Henning Ansorg," Welsh noted.

From the L.A. Times story:

Whether Masuda was fired or quit is still unclear, according to the Independent. When reached by an LA Times reporter, Masuda confirmed that his last day at the paper was Friday but said he had no other comment at this time.

As the late, great Newsmaker Emeritus George Santayana used to tell us:

The public service press. Mega-kudos to Montecito Journal editor-in-chief Gwyn Lurie and publisher Tim Buckley, for jump-starting a campaign in the village that so far has raised $269,000 to benefit local businesses and workers financially afflicted by the pandemic -- in three days.

The idea for a "Cash Mob" to help out small businesses forced to close or cut back came out of a 80-person (!) Zoom call the MJ's dynamic duo convened several weeks ago, in furtherance of the kind of communitarian aspirations and sensibilities Gwyn has proclaimed since taking over the editorial side last year.

Walking the talk, the paper collaborated with the 93108 Fund, the Montecito Association and other partners to gather online donations that will go both to hourly workers laid off amid the epidemic and to Coast Village Road and Upper Village merchants, in the form of gift certificates that may be redeemed when things reopen. The effort now has been extended through Mother's Day.

The Journal also last week debuted "Morning Mo-Jo," a new twice-a-week email newsletter linking to archived stories in the current print edition and advancing future stories. Someday they may even have an actual web site (June, Gwyn swears, in June).

Must read: Amid the daily droppings of armchair epidemiologists, political hacks disguised as pseudo-scientists and jargon-slinging medical writers, The Atlantic's Ed Yong has emerged as the star reporter of pandemic journalism.

Yong, who first wrote about the possibility of a deadly global contagion several years ago, consistently and reliably has churned out superb pieces for the venerable publication, which with a frequently updated website, has punched far above its weight in covering the story while competing with far larger news organizations.

While Yong's work is usually notable for telling readers things they didn't know, his current piece, embedded with scores of links to important stories, is extrarodinary in explaining how many things no one knows about the coronavirus, as he dissects existing knowledge about the virus, the disease, the research, the experts, messaging, the way that information travels, the value and shortcomings of pandemic modeling - and the ways that the coronavirus story is being told.

In doing so he puts the lie to every breathless daily headline, cherry-picked study and confirmation bias piece of evidence that's abroad in the Internets, by explaining with clarity and insight how the story of the coronavirus in one sense is the story of the scientific method itself, being told in real time:

The coronavirus not only co-opts our cells, but exploits our cognitive biases. Humans construct stories to wrangle meaning from uncertainty and purpose from chaos. We crave simple narratives, but the pandemic offers none. The facile dichotomy between saving either lives or the economy belies the broad agreement between epidemiologists and economists that the U.S. shouldn’t reopen prematurely. The lionization of health-care workers and grocery-store employees ignores the risks they are being asked to shoulder and the protective equipment they aren’t being given. The rise of small anti-lockdown protests overlooks the fact that most Republicans and Democrats agree that social distancing should continue “for as long as is needed to curb the spread of coronavirus.”

And the desire to name an antagonist, be it the Chinese Communist Party or Donald Trump, disregards the many aspects of 21st-century life that made the pandemic possible: humanity’s relentless expansion into wild spaces; soaring levels of air travel; chronic underfunding of public health; a just-in-time economy that runs on fragile supply chains; health-care systems that yoke medical care to employment; social networks that rapidly spread misinformation; the devaluation of expertise; the marginalization of the elderly; and centuries of structural racism that impoverished the health of minorities and indigenous groups.

It may be easier to believe that the coronavirus was deliberately unleashed than to accept the harsher truth that we built a world that was prone to it, but not ready for it.

Newsmakers says check it out.

Stay safe.

Images: Logo of Josh Molina podcast; George Santayana's most famous quotation; Gwyn Lurie; Ed Yong.

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