As newsrooms scramble to keep pace with the evolving tastes of digital consumers, there’s one medium proving that sometimes, you really don’t need to reinvent the wheel: podcasting.
Barely different from its radio predecessor, podcasts are slowly but surely taking over the news landscape. In 2022, 62% of Americans aged twelve and over had listened to a podcast – a steep 5% increase from the same study the year before.
Think podcast consumers aren’t interested in news? Think again – the Pew Research Center also discovered in 2022 that nearly one-quarter of Americans get their news from podcasts, a trend confirmed by Reuter’s 2023 Digital News Report. The latter also found that the demographic most likely to listen to news podcasts is young people, an increasingly difficult audience for media houses to capture.
At the rate the industry is growing, journalists and editors alike have no choice but to pay attention to – if not engage with – news podcasting.
Ready to master the medium? Here’s why news podcasts are so successful, the best examples of quality podcast journalism, and the ingredients for news podcasts' success.
If instant access is the crux of digital media’s appeal, it’s no wonder audiences love podcasts. Like the radio, they enable multitasking, but unlike the radio, they have complete control over when and how they stream.
Also unlike the radio, anyone can produce a podcast. Whether it’s a news, lifestyle, sports, comedy, or niche interest show, listeners can choose from an infinite pool of creators to discover a host they connect with. Over time, consumers form intimate bonds with their favorite podcasters – a relationship they can’t get from reading an article or watching TV.
When produced effectively, podcasts are:
From individual creators to legacy media outlets, news podcasts are shaping journalism careers.
Let’s take a look at two examples that stand out above the rest.
Frequently listed as #1 on news podcast charts, The Daily from The New York Times is an undisputed industry leader. Hosted by long-time journalist Michael Navarro, the 20-minute podcast dives deep into one timely news story per day. The topics range from popular current events to niche issues you’ve never heard of, but always include in-depth interviews and expert commentary from multiple sources.
A show with similar success is Today, Explained, which worked its way up from an independent podcast company to Vox Media to NPR, where it’s now produced and co-hosted by Noel King, one of NPR’s most influential reporters. Like The Daily, Today, Explained also covers one story per day, but with a more casual and younger feel.
Though both of these shows are available on every streaming platform, they’re also broadcasted on national radio.
These shows embody everything listeners love about podcasting. Both:
If you’re tempted to produce your own news podcast, be sure to explore the complete findings from Reuter’s 2023 Digital News Report.
At 5WH, we’re always on the lookout for the trends and tactics that can push your journalism career to new heights. To join the community and subscribe to our newsletter, visit www.5wh.com.
Dedee Droege is an independent journalist based in Los Angeles, California