MetroFocus: April 8, 2020

FAITH IN A TIME OF CRISIS

OFFERS CATHOLIC CHURCH’S MESSAGE IN THIS “TIME OF GREAT PAIN AND SUFFERING”

THOSE WHO ARE SUFFERING “ACCOMPANIED BY OUR PRAYERS”

TRIBUTE AND REMEMBRANCE OF FATHER JORGE ORTIZ, BROOKLYN PASTOR WHO WAS FIRST CATHOLIC PRIEST IN THE U.S. TO DIE OF COVID-19

This week, as Christians around the world observe Holy Week, they do so against the backdrop of a deadly global pandemic that has placed severe restrictions on the way people of all faiths are able to congregate and worship. Monsignor Kieran Harrington, Vicar for Communications for the Archdiocese of Brooklyn, and Rector of the Co-Cathedral of St. Joseph in Prospect Heights, joins MetroFocus to talk about the impact of coronavirus on his parish and the Christian community as a whole. He also addresses the current debate on whether churches should be allowed to open their doors, and offers a remembrance of Father Jorge Ortiz-Garay, the first priest in the U.S. to die as a result of COVID-19.

GOOD NEWS DOESN’T HAVE TO BE HARD TO FIND

Long before Covid-19 was the only topic in the newscast, musician, actor and renaissance artist, David Byrne was already feeling burnt out on news cycle that often prioritizes bad news over good. So he began collecting, not just happy stories but
positive ones, that focused on solutions rather than pointing out the problem. Solutions journalism.

What started out as a hobby, in 2017 became an official non-profit editorial site called Reasons to be Cheerful.

Even though we are able to constantly consume ‘news’ in real time as its happening, co-editor Will Doig says that doesn’t necessarily make us better informed and can sometimes warp our perceptions of the world around us. Reasons to be Cheerful hopes to balance that intake by bringing some of the ‘crisis news’ to its practical, productive and even positive conclusion.

Aired on April 8, 2020. 

TRANSCRIPT

WE ARE PROLIFE.

THEREFORE WE CANNOT TAKE ANY RISK WITH ANY LIVES.

WHAT'S YOUR TAKE ON THIS?

OBVIOUSLY THIS IS A VERY PAINFUL MOMENT IN LIFE AND CHURCH AND EASTER IS THE HIGHEST HOLY DAYS FOR CHRISTIANS AND AT THE SAME TIME THIS IS A MOMENT OF GREAT SUFFERING.

PARTICULARLY IN OUR CITY.

TODAY THE DEATH TOLL REACHED THE HIGHEST IN WEEKS SO WE ARE DEALING WITH THIS SUFFERING.

THE ONLY THING I CAN SAY IS THE PRAYER JESUS OFFERS IN JOHN 17 THE HIGH PRIESTLY PRAYER JESUS PRAYS WE MIGHT BE AS ONE.

IT IS A GREAT SUFFERING FOR THOSE WHO CAN'T CELEBRATE EASTER.

AND IN MANY PARTS OF THE WORLD YOU THINK ABOUT PLACES IN THE AMAZON REGION, THEY DON'T -- -- YOU THINK ABOUT THOSE SUFFERING.

I SEE THIS AS A MOMENT FOR THE ENTIRE CHRISTIAN COMMUNITY HERE IF THE UNITED STATES AND PERHAPS THE REST OF THE WORLD IN A WAY WE CAN IDENTIFY WITH THE CHURCH WHICH IS SUFFERING IN PLACES WHERE THERE'S GREAT PERSECUTION OR SCARITY.

YOU KNOW, A RECENT WALL STREET JOURNAL ARTICLE FRAMED THIS DEBATE GOING ON IN THE CHURCH AS A DEBATE BETWEEN LIBERAL CATHOLICS AND CONSERVATIVE WITH CONSERVATIVE CATHOLICS BEING THE ONES THAT WANT TO REOPEN CHURCHES AND RESUME PUBLIC MASSES AND THE LIBERAL CATHOLICS SAYING NO WE GOT TO KEEP THE CHURCH DOOR CLOSED.

DO YOU ACCEPT THAT FRAMING OF LEFT AND RIGHT?

NOT REALLY.

I MEAN I HEAR FROM MY FRIENDS WHO SOME FRIENDS OF MINE ARE VERY LIBERAL AND WANT CHURCH OPEN AND SOME CONSERVATIVES WANT IT CLOSE.

I THINK HOW WE SUFFER AS CHRISTIANS, I THINK THAT ALL OF US ARE PRIMARILY CONCERNED WITH THE FACT SO MANY ARE SUFFERING IN HOSPITAL AS LOAN.

-- ALONE.

AT 3:00 EACH DAY WE RING THE BELL, WE CALL IT THE BELL OF HOPE.

YOU KNOW, WHEN YOU RING THE BELL THAT LONG, I HEARD SOMEONE SAY, IT SCARE MEZ, THE POINT IS, WELL, DEATH IS SCARY.

BUT IT'S NOT ABOUT GIVING YOU HOPE.

THE PERSON WHO IS LIVING.

IT IS TO GIVE A PERSON HOPE WHO IS IN THE BED BY THEMSELVES.

WHEN THEY HEAR THE BELL THEY KNOW THEY'RE NOT BY THEMSELVES.

THEY'RE ACCOMPANIED BY OUR PRAYERS.

FOR US IF WE CAN'T PHYSICALLY BE PRESENT HOW CAN WE PRESENT IN OTHER WAYS.

THAT'S WHAT WE'RE TRYING TO DO.

I THINK THAT'S WHERE MAYBE SOME OF THE FRUSTRATION AN ANGER GETS DISPLACED AND BECOMES A BIT OF DIVISION.

GO BACK TO THE PRIESTLY PRAYER OF JESUS.

HE DOES THAT AT THE LAST SUPPER.

I THINK THAT'S WHERE WE SHOULD TAKE OUR LEAD.

YOU KNOW, FATHER, YOU TOUCHED ON IT.

THE PRIEST I SPEAK WITH, THEIR FRUSTRATION AND SADNESS AND ANGER IS NOT SO MUCH ABOUT THE PUBLIC MASS OR NOT IT'S ABOUT THE FACT THEY CAN'T ACCOMPANY SOME OF THE PARTITIONERS IN THE MOST DIEING MOMENTS, SICK IN THE HOSPITAL, DIEING IN THE HOSPITAL, A LOT OF THEM WITH ARE ARE DIEING BY THEMSELVES WITHOUT THE FAMILY AND WITHOUT THE PRIEST.

HAS THAT BEEN YOUR EXPERIENCE?

YES IT HAS BEEN.

TALKED ABOUT IT EARLIER.

FATHER ORTIZ, AN ASSOCIATE HERE AND HAD BECOME SICK A FEW WEEKS AGO.

IT WAS ABSOLUTELY THE EXPERIENCE.

I REMEMBER, YOU KNOW, TWO DAYS BEFORE HE DIED HE FACETIMED ME AND WE PRAYED AND I KNEW AT THAT MOMENT AS WE WERE TALKING, HE WAS TELLING ME WHAT HIS FINAL WISHES WERE, AND HE SAID TO ME, I WISH YOU COULD COME SEE ME.

AND I THOUGHT TO MYSELF AND SOMEONE'S DIEING AND ASK YOU TO SEE THEM, YOU GO.

SO I WENT TO SEE HIM.

AT THAT HOSPITAL HE WAS IN, I GUESS THEY DIDN'T HAVE THE SAME SORT OF SECURITY MEASURES SO I WAS ABLE TO VISIT WITH HIM.

BUT THEN I LEFT THERE, I FOUND OUT THAT SAME DAY ONE OF MY PARISHERS HAD THE CORONAVIRUS AND WENT TO THAT HOSPITAL AND THEY WOULD NOT LET ME IN.

I KEPT THINKING HERE'S ONE PERSON WHO WHEN I WENT TO SEE HIM, I COULD SEE HIS ANGUISH AND TWO DAYS LATER HE WAS DEAD AND SHE WHO WAS IN THE HOSPITAL FOR ANOTHER EIGHT DAYS, AND SHE SUFFERED, SHE SUFFERED BY HERSELF.

NOW THE QUESTION THEN BECOMES WHOSE INTEREST WAS SERVED, GOING, IS IT MY INTEREST TO BE USEFUL, OR IS IT THEIR NEED, THEIR SPIRITUAL NEED.

THIS IS WHERE IN THE ECONOMY, THE MYSTERY OF SALVATION, THIS IS HOW THINGS HAVE TO GRASP SO WHAT ARE WE TO DO IN THE MIDST OF THIS FRUSTRATION, WELL, THE ONLY THING WE IT DO IS WE CAN PRAY.

WE HAVE TO STAY AWAKE.

WE'RE IN THE GARDEN OF GETHSEMANE AND WE'RE GOING TO THE CROSS SO WE HAVE TO BE FAITHFUL IN TERMS OF PRAYER.

AND YOU TALKED ABOUT FATHER ORTIZ'S LAST DAYS, THE NEW YORK TIMES HAD A PIECE ABOUT HIM, HE WAS AN EXCEPTIONAL HUMAN BEING.

ALMOST 100 PRIESTS DIED IN ITALY, MANY SACRIFICIALLY TO HELP OTHERS.

HE IS THE FIRST PRIVATE TO DIE IN THE -- PRIEST TO DIE IN THE UNITED STATES THAT WE KNOW OF.

I WONDER IF YOU COULD TALK ABOUT HIM.

A GREAT GUY FROM A FAIRLY WEALTHY MEXICAN FAMILY.

HE CAME HERE REALLY AS A MEMBER OF A RELIGIOUS COMMUNITY AND BECAME A PRIEST OF THE DIOCESE AND WAS ORDER TANED -- ORDAINED IN 2004 AND CAME TO BROOKLYN IN 2009, MY ASSOCIATE, A REALLY REMARKABLE GUY.

WHAT STANDS OUT IS HE IDENTIFIED WITH PAUL PEOPLE, WHETHER -- ALL PEOPLE.

WHETHER A SPANISH OR ENGLISH SPEAKER.

HE WAS DEDICATED AND ZEALOUS.

HE WAS ONLY FIRE WITH THE LOVE OF THE LORD.

I WILL SAY HE WAS SCARED TO DIE LIKE ANYBODY WOULD BE SCARED TO DIE IN THIS MOMENT.

BUT HE HAD CONFIDENCE IN GOD'S LOVE AND MERCY AND WHAT HE WANTED TO MAKE SURE IS THAT HE WOULD STAY FAITHFUL TO THE END AND I BELIEVE HE WAS.

AND SO NOW I BELIEVE HE IS IN GLORY.

WELL MONSIGNOR, HERE WE ARE, IT'S HOLY WEEK, AS YOU SAID, THE MOST IMPORTANT WEEK OF THE CHRISTIAN CALENDAR.

AND IT HAPPENS TO COINCIDE WITH THE SURGE OF THIS PANDEMIC HERE, AT LEAST IN NEW YORK, IN THE TRI-STATE AREA, SO CLEARLY IT'S NOT GOING TO GET PUBLIC GATHERINGS ON EASTER SUNDAY.

WHAT CAN THE CHURCH DO TO MAKE SURE THAT THE FAITHFUL, THAT THEIR EXPERIENCE OF THE DEATH AND RESURRECTION OF JESUS CHRIST IS NOT DIMINISHED FOR THEM THIS YEAR.

YEAH.

WELL, SO, ONE THING IS THAT BECAUSE WE HAVE TO SOCIALLY DISTANCE DOES NOT MEAN WE HAVE TO BE SPIRITUALLY REMOVED FROM ONE ANOTHER.

YOU KNOW.

WE HAVE TO WALK WITH ONE ANOTHER AND WE DO THAT BY OUR PRAYER AND WE CAN DO THAT IN OUR PRAYER BY THE USE OF TECHNOLOGY.

AS I MENTIONED, WE SPOKE TO MANY PEOPLE BY FACETIME IN THOSE LAST DAYS SO THAT IS SOMETHING TO KEEP IN MIND, TECHNOLOGY SHOULD ENABLE COMMUNION.

WE HAVE TO PRAY FOR ONE ANOTHER.

AND THE FACT IS, WHILE WE MAY NOT BE ABLE TO GO TO CHURCH DOES NOT MEAN WE'RE AB SOLVED FROM CELEBRATING THESE HOLY DAYS SO HOW WE CAN CELEBRATE IT IS TO READ THE READINGS, READ THE PASSION OF OUR LORD, TO JOURNEY WITH OUR LORD IN A MYSTICAL WAY, USING OUR IMAGINATION, PERHAPS JOINING MASSES VIA LIVE STREAMING OR BY TELEVISION.

SO WE CAN TRY TO BE IN COMMUNION PRESENT TO EACH OF THOSE EXPERIENCES.

SO, THERE ARE MANY WAYS IN WHICH WE AS INDIVIDUALS CAN TAKE ADVANTAGE OF WHAT IS BEING OFFERED ELECTRONICALLY BY CHURCHES THROUGHOUT THE COUNTRY, BECAUSE WE HAVE THE USE OF TECHNOLOGY BUT ALSO THEN TO REALIZE THAT WE'RE IN COMMUNION BECAUSE OF OUR PRAYER WITH ONE ANOTHER.

YOU KNOW, WHEN I'M CELEBRATING THE MASS ON TV AND YOU'RE SITTING IN YOUR HOME IN PROSPECT HEIGHTS, YOU KNOW, YOU ARE PRESENT TO THAT UCHRIST CELEBRATION, THE PRESENCE OF THE CROSS IS FROENT YOU IN THAT MOMENT.

A PERSON WHILE WATCHING FROM TELEVISION CAN BE VERY PRESENT.

BUT IT REALLY IS AN ACT OF THE WILL.

THAT'S WHAT PEOPLE ARE PULLED TO DO.

IS TO MAKE THIS ACT OF THE WILL.

TO JOURNEY WITH CHRIST NOW THESE DAYS THROUGH THE EXPERIENCE OF HOLY THURSDAY AND THE LAST SUPPER AND THROUGH THE CROSS ON GOOD FRIDAY, TO THE TUNE ON HOLY SATURDAY, AND ULTIMATELY TO THE RESURRECTION ON SUNDAY.

AND THE QUEEN SAID SOMETHING BEAUTIFUL.

SHE SPOKE ABOUT THIS MOMENT OF SUFFERING AND HOW IT SEEMS TO ECLIPSE OUR ABILITY TO SEE, BUT WE KNOW THERE'S A TOMORROW, THAT'S HOUR THAT'S OUR HOPE.

THERE WILL BE A HOPE FOR TOMORROW FOR THOSE WHO HAVE DIED AND A TOMORROW FOR THOSE WHO HAVE LOST SOMEBODY.

MONSIGNOR HOW DO YOU HOPE THIS EXPERIENCE WILL TRANSFORM ALL OF US ONCE THIS VIRUS IS DEFEATED, SPIRITUALLY?

THIS HAS BEEN A SPIRITUAL FAST, FOR PRIEST AND PEOPLE, FOR THE PEOPLE, THEY CAN'T COME TO MASS, AND MAYBE WE CAN TAKE THE UECHRIST AND OUR CELEBRATION FOR IT FOR GRANTED.

ONLY WHEN IT'S WITHDRAWN DO WE KNOW HOW IMPORTANT IT IS IN OUR LIFE.

WHEN SOMEONE DIES AND WE CAN'T GO TO A FUNERAL.

WHEN A MARRIAGE IS POSTPONED.

WHEN BABIES ARE TO BE BAPTIZED AND ARE NOT.

ONLY NOW DO WE RECOGNIZE THE IMPORTANCE OF THIS MOMENT IN OUR LIFE.

SO HOPEFULLY THIS FAST CAN CONCENTRATE OUR ENERGY TO KNOW WHAT IT IS THAT GOD HAS GIVEN US, THE BEAUTY OF WHAT GOD HAS GIVEN US AND PERHAPS WE CAN LIVE FOR ME I CAN TELL YOU AND I KNOW FOR EVERY PRIEST WHO IS CELEBRATING EACH DAY, WE CELEBRATE BY OURSELVES.

YOU KNOW, YOU RECOGNIZE HOW WE ARE SUSTAINED BY THE CONGREGATION IN FRONT OF US.

THE PRAYERS OF THOSE WHO COME TO MASS WHO ARE PRAYING WITH US, THEY SUSTAIN US.

IN SOME SENSE THAT'S LACKING WHEN YOU LOOK OUT IN AN EMPTY CHURCH BUT IF WE USE OUR IMAGINATION AND KNOW TRULY THE ANGELS, THE SAINTS, THE WHOLE COMMUNION OF THE CHURCH IS PRESENT WHEN WE CELEBRATE THE UCHRIS T BECAUSE THAT'S A MOMENT WE'RE ON CALVARY WITH OUR LORD.

I'M REMINDED OF THIS IN THIS MOMENT.

ALL RIGHT, FATHER, WE'LL HAVE TO END IT THERE.

THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR JOINING US.

IT'S BECOME A PLEASURE YOUR TO TALK TO YOU.

THANKS AND HAPPY EASTER.

♪♪

> HI, I'M JENNA FLANNIGAN OF 'METROFOCUS', IT MAY BE HARD FOR A MEMBER BUT FOR MANY PEOPLE, MYSELF INCLUDED, THE NEWS CYCLE BECAME EMOTIONALLY TAXING, THAT WAS BEFORE THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC.

IT BLEEDS IT LEADS.

THAT'S A COMMONALITY IN NEWS ROOM AS CROSS THE COUNTRY WHERE LIGHTER STORIES ARE RELEGATED TO THE END OF THE NEWS CYCLE, MAKING IT EASIER TO GET LOST ON THE ONSLAUGHT OF BAD NEWS.

SO IN 2017 MUSICIAN, ACTOR, FILM MAKER AND WRITER, DAVID BYRNE, TALKING HEADS, DECIDED TO CREATE A GOOD NEWS HUB CALLED 'REASONS TO BE CHEERFUL' AND JOINING ME NOW TO TALK ABOUT THIS NON-PROFIT EDITORIAL PROJECT IS THE CO-EDITOR OF THE SITE, WILL, WELCOME TO THE PROGRAM.

THANKS FOR HAVING ME.

SO FIRST OFF, TELL ME A LITTLE BIT ABOUT THE ORIGIN STORY OF 'REASONS TO BE CHEERFUL' AND WHY IT WAS CREATED IN THE FIRST PLACE.

SURE, YES, AS YOU MENTIONED DAVID BYRNE, HE ACTUALLY KIND OF CREATED THE SITE HIMSELF A COUPLE YEARS AGO.

HE SORT OF MADE A SITE LIKE ANYBODY ELSE WOULD, PUT IT ON THE INTERNET AND STARTED WRITING ABOUT THINGS THAT MADE HIM FEEL BETTER THAT HE SAW IN THE NEWS.

HE DID THAT FOR ABOUT AOR AND AT SOME POINT DECIDED HE WANTED TO MAKE THIS WEBSITE MORE OF AN ONLINE MAGAZINE FOR THE GENERAL READER SO HE HIRED ME AND ANOTHER EDITOR CHRISTINE McLAREN AND BASICALLY TASKED US WITH RESIGNING THE SITE AND TURNING IT INTO A PUBLICATION.

WE HIRED A WEB DESIGNER.

WE DID A NEW DESIGN.

HIRED FREELANCE WRITERS.

WE PUT SOCIAL MEDIA UP AND WE TURNED IT INTO WHAT IT IS TODAY, WE RELAUNCHED THE SITE LAST AUGUST AND IT IS WHAT YOU SEE TODAY.

YEAH YOUR TIMING COULDN'T HAVE BEEN MORE PERFECT IN TERMS OF NEED FOR GOOD NEWS.

ONE THING I THOUGHT WAS INTERESTING, THERE'S A FOCUS ON SOMETHING YOU GUYS CALL SOLUTIONS JOURNALISM.

I WONDER IF YOU COULD TALK ABOUT WHAT THAT IS AND PERHAPS IN JUXTAPOSITION SO MANY OF US GET ALERTS ABOUT ON OUR PHONE CONSTANTLY.

YEAH, SOLUTIONS JOURNALISM IS SOMETHING YOU DON'T SEE A LOT OF AND I THINK IS OFTEN MISUNDERSTOOD.

BASICALLY WHAT SOLUTIONS JOURNALISM IS BEYOND TANGIBLE PROGRESS SO WE CAN LEARN ABOUT PROBLEM THAT'S ARE BEING SOLVED AND HOW THEY'RE BEING SOLVED SO THAT OTHERS CAN THEN PERHAPS LOOK AT THOSE SOLUTIONS AND PLY APPLY THEM ELSEWHERE.

REPLICATE THEM IN THEIR COMMUNITIES, THAT SORT OF THING.

I THINK OFTEN IT'S JUST KIND OF GOOD NEWS, THINGS THAT ARE HAPPENING THAT SHOULD MAKE YOU HAPPY AND THAT IS DEFINITELY SOMETHING WE STRUGGLE WITH A LITTLE BIT, BECAUSE YOU KNOW, OUR FOUNDER IS AN ARTIST.

OUR WEBSITE HAS A GOOFY NAME.

SO WE AT THE VERY BEGINNING MADE A COMMITMENT TO MAKE SURE ALL OF THE JOURNALISMS ARE ACTUAL SOLUTIONS IMPLEMENTED SHOWING MEASURABLE SUCCESS.

THAT'S WHAT WE'RE TRYING TO DO.

OF COURSE, AND ONE OF THE OTHER THINGS I JUST WANTED TO ASK ABOUT, BECAUSE I'VE GONE THROUGH AND READ SOME REALLY IN-DEPTH AS YOU WERE SAYING, WRITTEN STORIES, IS THAT PART OF WHAT I SEE, AT LEAST, WORKING IN MORE TRADITIONAL NEWS MEDIA IS THAT THERE'S A HEAVY, HEAVY FOCUS ON TRYING TO COMBAT MISINFORMATION AND IN SOME CASES SOME MIGHT SAY PROPAGANDA WITH AS MUCH POSITIVE FACTS, NOT POSITIVE FACT BECAUSE AS MANY CORRECT FACTS AS POSSIBLE SO IT CREATES A LITTLE BIT OF A TENSION THAT YOU DON'T NECESSARILY GET WHEN YOU ARE READING 'REASONS TO BE CHEERFUL'.

YEAH I MEAN, I THINK, IN A WAY ONE THING WE'RE TRYING TO DO IS FOSTER WHAT WE SEE AS A MORE ACCURATE PERCEPTION OF THE WORLD.

SO RIGHT NOW WE'RE LIVING IN A TIME WHERE PEOPLE ARE CONSUMING NEWS PRETTY MUCH ALL THE TIME.

ESPECIALLY IN THE LAST FEW WEEKS, BASICALLY YOU CAN'T STOP READING ABOUT EVERYTHING.

BUT IN A WAY I THINK OUR THEORY IS THAT THE MORE NEWS YOU CONSUME DOES NOT EQUAL THE MORE INFORMED THAT YOU ARE.

SOMETIMES CONSUMING CONSTANT AMOUNTS OF INFORMATION CAN ACTUALLY SORT OF WARP YOUR PERCEPTION OF WHAT'S GOING ON, ESPECIALLY IF THAT INFORMATION IS ALL ABOUT THE PROBLEMS AND ALL ABOUT, YOU KNOW, JUST THINGS FALLING APART, WHEN IN FACT THERE'S ACTUAL WILL YOU A LOT OF REALLY AMAZING SOLUTIONS DEVELOPING IN THE WORLD THAT PEOPLE DON'T HEAR ABOUT.

FOR INSTANCE, COUPLE WEEKS AGO WE RAN A STORY ABOUT HOW THE MEDIA RESPONDED TO THE EBOLA CRISIS A FEW YEARS AGO.

REALLY WHAT THEY FOCUSED ON WAS ALL THESE COUNTRIES, MOSTLY IN AFRICA, THAT WERE KIND OF BEING CONSUMED BY THIS CRISIS AND EVERYTHING WAS GOING WRONG WHEN IN FACT THERE WERE SEVERAL COUNTRIES IF AFRICA THAT HAD REALLY CONTAINED THE VIRUS, DEPARTMENT WITH THE PROBLEM CONSTRUCTIVELY AND FOUND SOLUTIONS IT TO IT, BUT THOSE WEREN'T CONSIDERED THE SEXY STORIES SO IF YOU READ THE NEWS ABOUT IT ALL YOU WOULD SEE IS EVERYTHING IS GOING WRONG IN FACT THAT WAS AN INACCURATE PERCEPTION.

OUR GOAL IS TO BALANCE OUT THAT PERCEPTION AND AMPLIFY THE SOLUTIONS SO PEOPLE COULD HAVE A MORE ACCURATE PICTURE OF THE WORLD.

I'M SPEAKING WITH THE CO-EDITOR OF THE NON-PROFIT EDITORIAL PROJECT THEIR WEBSITE YOU CAN FIND ONLINE.

I WANT TO PIVOT AND TALK ABOUT THE WAY THE SITE IS SET UP.

BECAUSE IT'S NOT JUST LIKE A HODGE PODGE OF STORIES THAT ARE CONSTRUCTIVE OR POSITIVE, ET CETERA, IT'S ACTUALLY BROKEN DOWN WITH SOME VERY CLEAR INTENTION.

I WAS WONDERING IF YOU COULD TELL ME ABOUT SOME OF THE CATEGORIES THESE STORIES ARE BROKE NEON -- BROKAW BROKEN INTO AND WHY THOSE CATEGORIES EXIST.

SURE, THOSE CATEGORIES EXISTED BEFORE I CAME AROUND, I THINK THE REASON HE DID THAT WAS BECAUSE IT DOES SEEM LIKE OUR SOCIETY IS IN A LOT OF WAYS KIND OF DIVIDED INTO THESE DIFFERENT PLACES WHERE THERE'S EDUCATION, THERE'S HEALTH, THERE'S URBAN AND TRANSPORTATION ISSUES, THERE'S CIVIC ENGAGEMENT, WHICH IS SORT OF LIKE JUSTICE ISSUES AND HOW PEOPLE GET INVOLVED IN THEIR COMMUNITIES.

SO WE'RE REALLY OPEN TO KIND OF STORIES ABOUT EVERY KIND OF TOPIC YOU COULD THINK OF.

IN THE END THERE'S EIGHT CATEGORIES IN THE END THAT ENCOMPASS PRETTY MUCH EVERYTHING AND WE DO LOOK TO OUR READERS TO SEND US IDEAS.

I WOULDN'T SAY READERS END UP WRITING STORIES FOR US BECAUSE WE DO HAVE A STAFF OF FREELANCERS WHO WRITE FOR US, BUT AT THE SAME TIME WE GET TONS OF STORY IDEAS FROM PEOPLE IN THE COMMUNITIES SAYING HEY THIS IS A SOLUTION I'VE SEEN AND WE'VE FREQUENTLY ENDED UP REPORTING ON THOSE SOLUTIONS.

WE'D LIKE TO SEE OURSELVES AS KIND OF A CONNECTOR BETWEEN DIFFERENT PEOPLE AND DIFFERENT ORGANIZATIONS SO THAT THEY CAN SHARE I'D IDEAS.

BECAUSE I REALLY THINK THAT ONE THE BENEFITS OF WHAT WE'RE DOING IS THAT THERE ARE SOLUTIONS OUT THERE BUT FREQUENTLY THEY DON'T END UP GETTING SORT OF REPLICATED OR SCALED BECAUSE THEY DON'T GET HEARD ABOUT.

WELL IT'S INTERESTING BECAUSE YOU DID TALK ABOUT HOW YOUR SITE HAD WRITTEN ABOUT THE EBOLA OUTBREAK AND YOU ALSO, I MEAN, YOU ARE STILL CURRENT AFFAIRS BECAUSE YOU HAVE ALSO WRITTEN ABOUT THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC AND I'M WONDERING HOW YOU ARE ABLE TO DO THAT AND STAY TRUE TO YOUR MISSION.

WELL IT'S INTERESTING.

SO THIS HAS BEEN AN INTERESTING TIME FOR US, RIGHT, BECAUSE A LOT OF THE TIMES IT SEEMS LIKE VERY LITTLE IS GOING RIGHT BUT AT THE SAME TIME I THINK THIS IS A MOMENT IN A WAY NEED TO BE MORE RELEVANT THAN EVER BECAUSE THERE'S A LOT OF SOLUTIONS OUT THERE.

WEEK AGO WE WROTE ABOUT HOW TAIWAN HANDLED THE EPIDEMIC AND IT WAS IN PART ABOUT, YOU KNOW, HOW THEY IDENTIFIED THE PROBLEM EARLY, THEY HAD SCREENED PEOPLE RIGHT AWAY, -- OVER THE COURSE OFFED MANY YEARS THEY HAD CREATED A DEMOCRATIC SYSTEM THAT IS VERY FOCUSED ON SOLUTIONS AND PRAGMATICISM AND DELIVERING RESULTS FOR THE PEOPLE.

RIGHT.

SO, LIKE, HERE IN THE U.S. WE TEND TO GET VERY SENTIMENTAL ABOUT DEMOCRACY AND WE THINK ABOUT THE HISTORY AND PAGEANTRY, AND THEY SAY DEMOCRACY IS NOT DELIVERING FOR THE PEOPLE THAN IT'S NOT WORKING, AND SO THEY HAVE KIND OF REALLY MADE THAT THE CORE OF THEIR VALUE SYSTEM THERE AND, YOU KNOW, WHEN THERE'S A VIRUS RAVAGEDING YOUR COUNTRY THAT COULD COME IN HANDY.

OF COURSE.

NOW WE'VE TALKED A LITTLE BIT ABOUT DAVID BYRNE AND HIS FOUNDING OF THIS NON-PROFIT WEBSITE AND OF COURSE HIS INVOLVEMENT IN IT BUT I JUST WANT TO SAY HE'S NOT JUST, LIKE, YOU KNOW, A KIND, OLD BEN FACTOR.

HE'S ACTIVELY INVOLVED.

I'VE READ SEVERAL PIECES HE HAS WRITTEN.

IT'S NOT JUST AN EDITORIAL PIECE.

SOMETIMES IT IS.

HE'S ACTUALLY WRITTEN NEW STORIES CORRECT.

OH, SURE.

DAVID FROM THE BEGINNING WAS VERY CLEAR HE DID NOT WANT THIS PROJECT TO BE ABOUT HIM.

HE IS THE FOUNDER AND HE STARTED IT AND HE HAS TURNED OVER THE DAY-TO-DAY EDITORIAL PROCESS TO CHRISTINA AND I.

BUT AT THE SAME TIME HE REMAINS DEEPLY INVOLVED AND HE WOULDN'T HAVE IT ANY OTHER WAY.

HE'S DOING EVERYTHING FROM WRITING STORIES, TO, YOU KNOW, HE COMES TO THE EDITORIAL MEETING EVERY WEEK WHERE WE COME UP WITH IDEAS AND TALK ABOUT WHAT WE CAN DO.

WE SOMETIMES JOKE HE IS OUR IN IN-HOUSE HEAD LINELINE WRITER BECAUSE HE WRITES BETTER HEADLINES THAN ANYBODY.

VERY HELPFUL.

MANY HEADLINES ON THE WEBSITE WERE WRITTEN BY DAVID.

SO HE'S BEEN VERY INVOLVED.

AT THE SAME TIME I THINK HE REALIZES HE IS NOT A JOURNALIST.

HE'S AN ARTIST AND A MUSICIAN SO HE HAS DEFERRED TO US MANY TIMES ON QUESTIONS OF JOURNALISTIC RIGOR, INTEGRITY, IDEAS, ALL THAT SORT OF THING.

BUT, YEAH, HE'S DEEPLY PART OF THE PROCESS.

NOW WE'RE COMING UP ON THE END OF OUR TIME BUT I DO WANT TO ASK YOU ABOUT THE TYPES OF WRITER THAT'S YOU ARE LOOKING FOR.

I ASK THAT BECAUSE I READ THIS REALLY FASCINATING PIECE THAT WAS WRITTEN BY A FORMERLY INCARCERATED MAN WHO WAS TALKING ABOUT THE BENEFITS OF A LIBERAL ARTS EDUCATION, VIS-A-VIS THE BAR PRISON INITIATIVE.

AND SO, HOW BROAD OF A NET ARE YOU CASTING WHEN YOU LOOK FOR PEOPLE TO TELL THESE NARRATIVES.

YEAH THAT WAS A GREAT STORY.

HE, SO THAT WAS AS A MENTIONED, THIS WAS A YOUNG MAN WHO WAS IN PRISON.

WHILE IN PRISON HE WENT THROUGH AN EDUCATIONAL PROGRAM AND ENDED UP GETTING HIS COLLEGE DEGREE AND WROTE AN ARTICLE ABOUT IT.

WE GENERALLY, I WOULDN'T SAY PERSONAL ESSAYS ARE WHAT WE DO.

MOST OF OUR STORIES ARE IMPORTED BUT MOST POWERFUL PIECES HAVE BEEN PERSONAL ESSAYS SO IF THERE'S SOMEBODY OUT THERE WITH A STORY TO TELL, ESPECIALLY IF IT'S A STORY ABOUT POSITIVE CHANGE OR HOW THEY SOLVED A PROBLEM THAT'S SOMETHING WE'RE ALWAYS INTERESTED IN AND WE HOPE THEY WOULD CONTACT US.

WELL, LISTEN, WILL DOY COEDITOR OF 'REASONS TO BE CHEERFUL' A GREAT NON-PROFIT WEBSITE, EDITORIAL PROJECT.

THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR JOINING US.

QUICKLY WHERE CAN PEOPLE FIND YOU ONLINE?

REASONSTOBECHEERFUL.WORLD.

EXACTLY, SIMPLE GOOGLE.

THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR JOINING ME ON THE PROGRAM.

THANKS FOR HAVING ME.

FOR THE LATEST NEWS ON THE CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC AND YOUR COMMUNITY, VISIT US AT METROFOCUS.ORG, FACEBOOK AND TWITTER.

GOOD NIGHT AND STAY SAFE.

'METROFOCUS' IS MADE POSSIBLE BY JAMES AND MERRYL TISCH, SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III, THE SYLVIA A. AND SIMON B. POYTA PROGRAMING ENDOWMENT TO FIGHT ANTI-SEMITISM.

BERNARD AND IRENE SCHWARTZ, ROSALIND P. WALTER, BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG, AND BY --

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by James and Merryl Tisch, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, Bernard and Irene Schwartz, Rosalind P. Walter, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Janet Prindle Seidler, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

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