Digging Into The Truth About Messages, Images And Hard Times

Nov 9, 2013

The online magazine Ozy covers people, places and trends on the horizon. Co-founder Carlos Watson joins All Things Considered regularly to tell us about the site's latest discoveries.

This week, he tells NPR's Arun Rath about a televangelist on the rise in Singapore, a blog that takes a deeper look at viral news photography and the most surprising trend of the Great Recession.

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It's time now for The New and The Next. Carlos Watson is the co-founder of the online magazine Ozy. Each week, he joins us to talk about what's new and what's next. Welcome back, Carlos.

CARLOS WATSON: Hey, Arun. Always good to be with you.

RATH: So Ozy has a section called Acumen. It's where you present surprising factoids. There's one this week about the absence of a trend, though. Millions of Americans lost their homes during the Great Recession, but there wasn't a big migration.

WATSON: You know, by some estimates, Arun, as many 10 million were evicted or foreclosed upon during the Great Recession, but whereas in past times - you remember the Dust Bowl, you remember African-Americans with the Great Migration - you would see two, three, four, six million Americans move not only outside of their local areas but often move across state lines and into new regions. We did not see that in the last Great Recession. And as a result, a lot of the pain that came with evictions and foreclosures, frankly had probably been invisible to many of us because we didn't see people streaming across state lines in that way.

RATH: Well, it's weird because it's such an American narrative, like you're saying, the move to Detroit or the Okies going to California like in "The Grapes of Wrath." Why is it different this time around?

WATSON: In many ways, it was because of the breadth of the recession, the notion that things were bad not just in one locale but that they were bad all over. And so places that in the past - Silicon Valley, other places - that people would have streamed to hoping that there'd be light at the end of the tunnel there, there was not. The other thing was the cost, frankly, of gearing up for such a move, that many people not only lost their homes but didn't have resources to bank on. And making that kind of move was much more difficult.

JOSEPH PRINCE: Hello, America.


RATH: You also have a profile this week of a rising star from the world of televangelism. Joseph Prince, he's a pastor from Singapore. I caught him channel surfing once. I had no idea how he is just getting - he's huge.

PRINCE: ...what he's saying to us is going to be a year of open doors. Where he opens, no one can shut. And I mean no one.

WATSON: Fifty-year-old Joseph Prince, the founder of New Creations Church. Today, people watch him and enjoy his sermons in over 200 countries. Many people here in America, tens of thousands, regularly tune in and watch him, buy his books, listen to his sermons. In fact, this very week, he's on a tour - sold-out tour, by the way - throughout the United States where he's giving sermons every Sunday and, in some cases, Saturdays.

PRINCE: You think that God is a God that stands down there and say: Come on, louder, louder, pray harder, come on, come on, yes, my heart - I can feel a bit in my heart becoming softer, yes, yes. Hey, that's your school principal. It's not God.

WATSON: Joseph Prince is the son of a Sikh priest. Started off life as an IT consultant and has gone on, as you've said, to become one of the most popular ministers in the world.

RATH: That's pretty amazing. Another interesting person you profile this week - I love this one - this is Michael Shaw. He runs this blog, BagNews, which focuses on analysis of news images.

WATSON: Yes. So 56-year-old clinical psychologist Michael Shaw was following the news closely, often explaining a lot of it at the time to his young sons, and found that he particularly felt that a lot of our photos that you find on news sites were distracting and misleading. In the early 2000s, he heard a quote by Karl Rove, President George W. Bush's famous strategist, who said politics is really just TV with the sound turned off.

And that emphasized to him the importance of images. It led him to launch this blog, BagNews, where he analyzes important pictures from around the globe, and particularly from the realm of politics, and then invites a number of experts to debate them, to suggest whether they are misleading, whether they actually broaden our understanding of a point. He did really important work around the Boston bombing photos. His work covers a wide range of events and topics and always gets people talking.

RATH: Carlos Watson is the co-founder of the online magazine Ozy. You can explore all of the stories we talk about at npr.org/newandnext. Carlos, thanks again.

WATSON: Arun, always good to be with you. Have a terrific weekend. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.