The State of Things

WUNC's The State of Things brings the issues, personalities, and places of North Carolina to you.  The State of Things Podcast presents new stories every weekday with topics from our show.  To subscribe:Get a daily show update and special news. Subscribe to our podcast on Google Play or iTunes.  Or, use the links at the right.Visit the main SOT page.

Movies On The Radio: Ladies Who Lead

Mar 14, 2018
photo of sally field and barbara baxley in 'norma rae'
20th Century Fox

For years, critics have contended that Hollywood films leave a lot to be desired when it comes to female representation. Analyses such as the Bechdel test suggest that too often the male-dominated screenwriting world puts women in passive, one-dimensional roles.

Shining A Light On Our Government

Mar 13, 2018
photo of sunshine week logo - 'your right to  know'
American Society of News Editors / http://sunshineweek.rcfp.org/sw-logos/

North Carolina law gives citizens the right to all sorts of government data, from state employee emails to the minutes of closed meetings. But how reliable are our state institutions when it comes to delivering that data? That is one question that North Carolina reporters hoped to answer this year for Sunshine Week, an annual nationwide event dedicated to holding government agencies accountable and making citizens aware of their rights to open government data.

copy of the official program of the women's suffrage procession, March 1913
Library of Congress/Public Domain

When people gathered for the women’s marches of 2017 and 2018, they were joining a tradition that dates back more than a century. In 1913, thousands of women marched on Washington wearing purple and gold sashes instead of pink hats, and Rebecca Roberts says they were a lot more radical than today’s activists.

Learning Colors With Black History

Mar 13, 2018
photo of a young girl in a pink tutu
Courtesy of Whitney Wingate

As a former English teacher and Ph.D. candidate, Whitney Wingate believes strongly that words, books and stories matter. So when she had her first child three years ago, it did not take long for her to realize that children’s literature left much to be desired.

Ron Stacker Thompson
Courtesy of UNC School of the Arts

Ron Stacker Thompson knew from a young age that he wanted to be a teacher. He grew up in Chicago, excelled in school, and loved his time in the classroom. He attended Illinois State University and went on to try his hand at teaching. But his work as a drama teacher quickly led to another career on stage.

The Asheville Police Department badge.
Courtesy of APD

North Carolina Rep. Duane Hall (D-Wake) was met with harsh criticism from other Democratic lawmakers, including Gov. Roy Cooper, when he refused to step down amid claims of sexual harassment by multiple women.

photo of JoAnne Smart Drane and Bettye Ann Davis Tillman
UNCG

Before the University of North Carolina at Greensboro was a thriving liberal arts school filled with rich and diverse voices, it was Woman’s College. When JoAnne Drane stepped foot on the campus in 1956, the school was one of the largest women’s colleges in the country, but it was far from diverse. In fact, she was one of the first two black students.

photo of Alexa Rose
Courtesy of Alexa Rose

Alexa Rose was singing before she could talk, but she did not sing or even listen to country music until she was a teenager. She starred in a country-inspired musical theater production, which opened her up to the sounds of the Carter family, Patsy Cline and Johnny Cash.

A nurse performs her work at a community health clinic.
Sabin Institute / Flickr/Creative Commons, https://flic.kr/p/ooK2xw

 

As the Trump administration continues to chip away at Obamacare, many public health practitioners are left wondering how the changes will affect their clients. The statewide sexual health non-profit Shift NC has voiced particular concerns about how the administration’s policies could affect underserved teens and adolescents.

A picture of people in voting booths
Joe Shlabotnik / Flickr Creative Commons

Last November, some voters in the small Eastern North Carolina town of Sharpsburg showed up to the polls but were unable to cast ballots. Due to a technical error, the Wilson County Board of Elections only printed 12 ballots for their precinct, even though that precinct has over 200 eligible voters. The mayoral race was decided by three votes, and the man who lost has since successfully challenged the results in court.

Academic Knowledge For All

Mar 8, 2018
photo of stacks of library books
Creative Commons

The world of academic publishing is all about credibility, and most scholars want to be published in the nation’s most reputable academic journals. But accessing those journals can be very expensive. While large universities can often afford to foot the bill, researchers at smaller colleges, or those in developing countries, may find themselves unable to afford access to the latest scientific research.

picture of Sheriff Sam Page
N.C. Sheriff's Association

There have been more than 10 school shootings in the country so far this year.  As the gun debate rages on Capitol Hill, students around the country have taken things into their own hands staging walkouts and protests.

A collection of headlines and photos from the media covering white supremacists
Courtesy of WNYC

The latest episode of WNYC’s “On The Media” takes a critical look at how the press covers white supremacy and neo-Nazi groups. The episode stemmed from questions reporter Lois Beckett asked herself as she was covering white nationalist rallies for The Guardian.

photo of a man steering a motorboat down a river
Bear Guerra / Fonografia Collective

Ruxandra Guidi is no stranger to deadlines. She has been working as a storyteller and journalist for close to two decades for outlets including NPR, the BBC, National Geographic and The New York Times. But lately she has become increasingly interested in slowing down the reporting process and seeing what happens when she gives herself one month or one year to tell a story, instead of one day or one week.

photo of a gun and ammunition
Wikimedia Commons

Since the Valentine’s Day shooting at a Florida high school, President Donald Trump says teachers should be armed. Last week North Carolina State Superintendent Mark Johnson polled teachers around the state about the matter.

photo of Brian Southwell
Courtesy of Brian Southwell

How long does it take the brain to input information and process it as fact or fiction? Not long, according to Brian Southwell. He is a researcher at RTI International and co-editor of the book “Misinformation and Mass Audiences” (University of Texas Press/2018) who looks at the science and psychology behind "fake news.” 

photo of Dobbs playing the double bass for a group of children
Courtesy of Bach With Verse

Richard Hartshorne, known internationally as “Dobbs,” left the classical music world in 2004 to play Bach for audiences who do not usually have access to it. The double bassist founded “Bach With Verse,” a non-profit that brings music to audiences that otherwise would not get it. Dobbs has played in Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine, and in prisons around the United States.

photo of Bart Ehrman
Courtesy of Bart Ehrman

In academic circles, Bart Ehrman is regarded as one of the world’s most influential New Testament scholars. But after publishing his first book designed for the masses, “Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why” (HarperCollins/2005), Ehrman’s reputation expanded beyond the academy and into many American households. His unabashed willingness to perform textual criticism on the Bible was offensive and polarizing for many believers. But perhaps Ehrman understood their viewpoints better than they understood his.

photo of Donald Trump, speaking and gesturing
Evan Vucci / AP Photo

Two of the nation’s largest gun sellers announced they will take steps to curb firearm sales. Dick’s Sporting Goods says it will stop selling assault-style rifles and high-capacity magazines, and they’ll also require those buying guns to be over 21, whether it’s required by local laws or not. Walmart will no longer sell guns to people under the age of 21, and they’ll stop selling items that resemble assault-style rifles, including toys and air guns. 

photo of a round table discussion, 'Black Issues Forum' banner in the background
UNC-TV

For more than 150 years, historically black colleges and universities have fostered African-American leaders and fueled social movements. Spurred by the release of Stanley Nelson’s new PBS documentary “Tell Them We Are Rising,” UNC-TV hosted a conversation with leaders of HBCUs in North Carolina on its weekly program “Black Issues Forum.” That episode, called “HBCU Legacy and Leadership,” takes a look at the continued relevance of HBCUs in today’s educational landscape.

photo of four men in the woodsy sculpture from duke gardens
Kevin Clark

For more than a decade, John Harrison was the frontman for the indie-rock band North Elementary. He has since left that gig to work solo, which he says gives him more flexibility and creative freedom. 

photo of Rep. Duane Hall
NC Leg/Wikimedia Commons

Democratic leaders in Raleigh are calling for one of their own to step down. According to reporting from left-leaning publication NC Policy Watch, five women say North Carolina Rep. Duane Hall (D-Wake) engaged in inappropriate sexual conduct. Hall denies the allegations, But Governor Cooper and other Democratic leaders say he must resign from his post.

photo of Danai Gurira on top of a car holding a weapon
Marvel Studios-Disney via AP

There are not many superlatives left to describe the success of “Black Panther.” The latest Marvel movie has received glowing reviews, broken countless records, and is nothing short of a cultural phenomenon. It is also well on its way to surpassing $1 billion at the global box office. And although it has reached screens in far corners of the world, questions remain about what its long-term impact will be. Can one successful film finally disprove the longstanding myth that black films don’t travel?

Donald van der Vaart
DENR

Donald van der Vaart was North Carolina’s top environmental official under former Gov. Pat McCrory.  When Gov. Roy Cooper took office, Van der Vaart demoted himself and was later placed on suspension after writing a controversial opinion piece in an environmental law journal. However, he recently reemerged as a candidate for President Trump's Council on Environmental Quality.

photo of Lauret Savoy
Kris Bergbom

Many Americans learn their history through teachers, textbooks and films. Personal histories, however, often come from stories told amongst families. But what if pieces of a personal history are still missing from those stories? And who decides which stories to pass on and which to bury?

photo of elderly man, seated in a rocking chair
Joe Zakko

When film aficionados around the state tune in to the Oscars this Sunday, there are a couple North Carolina connections to look out for. “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” was filmed in and around Asheville and is up for several awards. Another connection is in the short film category — a North Carolinian directed one of the films nominated for best short.

photo of a scarred football helmet
HOUSE COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION AND THE WORKFORCE DEMOCRATS / FLICKR CREATIVE COMMONS

Football has remained one of America’s favorite forms of entertainment for years. Even as its ratings fall, the National Football League is estimated to have made $14 billion in 2017 alone. But science is finally catching up to the sport, and it suggests the big hits that delight fans do not come without a price. 

photo of Rachelle Faroul in the doorway of her new home
Sarah Blesener for Reveal

Starting in the 1930s, the Federal Housing Administration practiced a policy called redlining, which permitted banks to deny loans to particular neighborhoods based on their racial or ethnic composition. That practice has been illegal since 1968, but African-Americans and Latinos continue to be denied mortgage loans at rates far higher than their white counterparts, according to new reporting from Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting.

photo of Jennifer Pharr Davis on a big rock with a plaque
Maureen Robinson

Hiking through fields and forests has been life changing for Jennifer Pharr Davis. She is a professional hiker and adventurer. At just 21 years old, she set off on a solo hike across the entire Appalachian Trail, a path that covers 14 states and more than 2,000 miles.

child drinks soda
Staff Sgt. Matt McGovern / U.S. Air Force - Commons

Researchers have long been aware of a link between exposure to violence and obesity in adolescents. Now a new study is untangling some of the reasons that connection exists.

The study used smart phones to monitor adolescents in California and North Carolina. It tracked their exposure to violence and subsequent activity levels, fatigue, and consumption of fast food and soda.

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