Editor’s note: In The Fix’s new Friday column, tech and media journalist David Tvrdon reflects on how the forces of business, technology and journalism intersect and what that means for the media industry.
Do you have podcasts? Do your reporters read their own articles to present them in the form of audio articles? Are you working on your own voice assistant? Are you working on your smart speakers audio strategy?
If you answered “yes” to any of the questions above, great, there’s a lot that we can dive into. If you couldn’t answer yes to any of them, that’s fine, too. That’s what we’re here for – let’s start with the basics.
In the past few days and weeks there has been a lot of news regarding audio and podcasting. Just to name a few:
- Analyst Matthew Ball published a long essay called Audio’s Opportunity and Who Will Capture It
- Another News Impact Summit took place, organised by the European Journalism Centre and powered by the Google News Initiative, called Newsroom Strategies: Audio & Voice (I also presented, here is the written version of my talk)
- In France, there was a four-day discussion on podcasting at the Paris Podcast Festival 2020
- In the latest a16z podcast, Gustav Söderström, chief R&D officer at Spotify, spoke about the future of audio and how Spotify’s focus on podcasts has guided them
Should your newsroom have a podcast? Yes
Last week I interviewed Dan Oshinsky for The Fix and we talked about all things regarding editorial newsletters. My first question was whether any newsroom should have a newsletter strategy in place in 2020. His answer was a definite Yes.
After going through all the takeaways from the above mentioned sources I can tell you with a high confidence that your newsroom should have an audio strategy. The easiest way to start is just by doing a podcast.
Audio is great for building a relationship with your community or your audience. Again, back to the newsletter interview – Dan explained that if you have a reader, who reads your content, watches your videos, subscribes to your newsletter and listens to your podcast – then they are very likely to support you.
That’s actually something more newsrooms all over Europe have seen and even The New York Times’ outgoing CEO Mark Thompson confirmed – the more types of content the reader engages with, the more likely he or she is to subscribe or support you and keep doing so.
In 2018, the World Association of News Publishers published a report called Engaged Readers Don’t Churn. In that report, they interviewed many newsrooms across Europe and one of the takeaways was that building habits (e.g., via newsletter subscription, listening to podcasts, website visits, app usage…) is a sound strategy for not losing existing supporters.
In that regard, podcasts are another way for your newsroom to strengthen the relationship you are building with your audience, whether or not you have a reader supported revenue model.
Starting a podcast
As I mentioned, probably the easiest way to kick-start your audio strategy is to start a podcast.
There are many approaches you can take but one of the most popular for newsrooms, according to Nic Newman, a senior researcher at the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism who presented at the News Impact Summit, is a daily news podcast.
Now, for a smaller newsroom that can be overwhelming, but these tend to be very popular with audiences. The idea is to have an on-demand audio experience of a news broadcast with the most important news of the previous day.
Anyway, if that’s too much for you, start with a weekly one. The most popular podcast genres in US and Europe are comedy, news and culture & society.
If you are looking for ‘how to start a podcast’ resources I have a couple of good ones for you.
Podcasting 101, is a video series with two famous podcasters produced by PRX & the Google Podcasts creator program. The series explains everything from recording to editing and publishing your podcast.
Gimlet Academy is a five-episode series from podcast pioneer Alex Blumberg, and Spotify for Podcasters, that teaches the craft of audio storytelling.
Now that you’ve jumped into your first audio adventure – great! Check out coming issues that will elaborate on how to make the most of your audio content.