May 26, 2019

When Tragedy Strikes Overnight – The New York Times

When Tragedy Strikes Overnight – The New York Times


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By 1 a.m. Eastern time on Friday, it was clear something awful had happened in New Zealand. What was unclear was just how awful. I read the coverage in The Times, scanned emails from our International Desk and sent a message to my colleagues on “The Daily” updating them on the situation.

At moments like this, we have to make a difficult decision: Do we know enough, in the middle of a breaking news story (and in the middle of the night), to tell it in a meaningful way on the show?

In this case, we did not.

I set an alarm for just before 6 a.m., when “The Daily” is published, to check back in on the story.

By then, the scope of the tragedy was evident.

Still, the details remained sketchy. I wrote up what we knew, recorded an update from home (I have a microphone set up inside a closet) and sent it to Chris Wood, a “Daily” engineer in London who — because of the time difference — makes final changes to the show when the rest of us are asleep back in New York. He quickly updated the end of the episode with the news.

It was an imperfect situation. For those waking up and seeking a detailed understanding of what had occured in New Zealand, we would not entirely satisfy that need. We had run out of time. But we wanted to make sure listeners knew that a deadly attack had happened.

As I write this at 2 p.m. on Friday, we’re planning a full episode about the shooting for Monday’s show.

Talk to Michael on Twitter: @mikiebarb.



After Thursday’s episode, listeners wrote in asking whether “Medicare for all” would cost more or less for the government and for individuals than our current health care system. The answer? It’s complicated. Here’s what Margot Sanger-Katz, our guest for the episode, had to say:

“According to a range of estimates from economists, a ‘Medicare for all’ system along the lines of one proposed by Senator Bernie Sanders would cost the federal government somewhere between $7 trillion more than our current system and $6 trillion less over 10 years. (That lowest estimate came from someone associated with the Sanders 2016 campaign.)

“There are elements of a single-payer system that may increase costs, and others that may lower it. A Sanders-esque system includes a lot of features that will tend to increase the amount of medical care people in this country use. It will provide health insurance to everyone currently without it. It will cover things that most insurance now doesn’t, like dental care and long-term care. Those changes could benefit individuals and the country’s public health, but they will probably cause more people to use doctors and dentists and nursing homes than they do now, and that care will cost money.

“An advantage of single-payer is that it could lower profits and administrative costs. Currently, the country spends around 20 percent of its health care dollars on things other than direct health care. Switching to a single, government-run system could squeeze that number down. A ‘Medicare for all’ system would also have the power to control the prices paid for medical care to doctors and hospitals — and prices are the biggest factor that makes the U.S. system so expensive. Finding the right prices will be a practical and political challenge, however, since any savings will tend to lower someone’s income.

“Determining whether the system would be cheaper or more expensive for any individual is hard. Right now, we pay for health care in various ways: through taxes, through premiums and through cash payments to doctors and hospitals. Under ‘Medicare for all,’ health care would instead be largely funded with taxes, and how those taxes are designed will affect who pays more or less than they do now.”


Who: Paige Cowett, an editor for “The Daily”

What:Oprah Winfrey Presents: After Neverland

After our episode with Wesley Morris about the documentary “Leaving Neverland,” I watched Oprah’s follow-up conversation with the two men in the documentary who say that Michael Jackson sexually abused them when they were boys. I was struck by how she managed to make the discussion not about Jackson. While many of us grappled with what the accusations of sexual abuse mean for Jackson’s place in our culture and in our hearts, Oprah focused on something that so much of the media ignored: the impact on victims, the playbook of predators and the pervasiveness of this abuse.


For the biggest stories of our time, told by New York Times journalists each weekday, listen to “The Daily.” You can find it at nytimes.com/thedaily or wherever you get your podcasts.

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

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