2
0
1
9

Podcasts keep getting better

“It turns out that people — well, lots of people, anyway — are hungry for substance. Our attention spans are quite intact, ready, and willing.”

“Nobody has any attention span anymore. Least of all anyone under 40.” Until a few years ago, it seemed that virtually all media watchers, and media makers, agreed on this. Among the most powerful gatekeepers, anyway, the consensus seemed solid.

One of the most gratifying revelations to emerge from the podcast boom of the last few years is that the above article of faith was dead wrong. It’s an especially gratifying discovery if, like me, you love to produce long-form, in-depth, documentary audio.

Yes, the trend took off with Serial’s first season. Twelve episodes, “one story told week by week,” 100 million downloads in no time, etc., etc. Everyone knows that Serial’s success unleashed a new podcast stampede. More specifically, for my purposes here, it threw open the doors to the podcast series. Eight, ten, fourteen parts, a bunch of hours in total — the audio nonfiction (and sometimes fiction) equivalent of a good book, or of the bingeable Netflix series so many of us are burning through. Podcast listeners — who in fact skew younger than in most other media — seem to be saying: Yes, thank you. Take me on a journey. We’re going to take our time, dig into corners, get into the weeds? Sign me up.

So, we’ve got the many true crime series, each show or season tackling a single case (In the Dark, Dirty John, Empire on Blood, Atlanta Monster, Last Seen), while others dive into past political scandals (Slow Burn, Bag Man). In addition, podcasters are making series that explore personal journeys (First Day Back, How to Be a Girl) and historical and social themes (UnCivil, Caught, Scene on Radio’s Seeing White and MEN). There’s fiction and quasi-fiction (Homecoming, The Shadows), and limited series turning on a creative, imaginative device (Everything is Alive).

It turns out that people — well, lots of people, anyway — are hungry for substance. Our attention spans are quite intact, ready, and willing.

My prediction: More podcast series in 2019. (No kidding.) They’ll keep getting better, smarter, deeper, and more varied. Thank god and the inventors of the podcast. Bring ‘em on.

John Biewen is audio program director at the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University and host/producer of Scene on Radio.

Julie Posetti   The year of the fight back

Annie Rudd   A more intimate aesthetic of politics — on Insta

Shannon McGregor   More bogus embedded tweets in our stories

Nisha Chittal   The homepage makes a comeback

Mandy Velez   Putting the social back in social media

Rebecca Lee Sanchez   We are all actors in the running rampant of political theater

Sue Robinson   Reporters go on the offensive

Gideon Lichfield   Goodbye attention economy, we’ll miss you

Jonathan Stray   More algorithmic accountability reporting, and a lot of it will be meh

M. Scott Havens   Time to swing for the fences

Emma Carew Grovum   The year of the loyal reader

Tushar Banerjee   Interactive ads will be the new face of display advertising

Josh Schwartz   A pullback from platforms and a focus on product

Tyler Fisher   This is journalism’s do-or-die moment

Elizabeth Jensen   Going where the Acela can’t take you

Craig Newmark   The end of “loudspeakers for liars”

Soo Oh   Just showing our work isn’t enough

Zizi Papacharissi   Old interface, say hello to the new interface

Betsy O'Donovan and Melody Kramer   The most beautiful sentence in 2019 is “No.”

Carl Bialik   Fatigued news consumers will pay more for less news

Winny de Jong   Data journalism goes undercover

Whitney Phillips   Our information systems aren’t broken — they’re working as intended

Amy King   We should listen to the kids (especially on Instagram)

Mat Yurow   Content competition from the tech companies

Celeste LeCompte   Local news needs local conversation to survive

Rachel Davis Mersey   Local news goes minimalist

Reyhan Harmanci   Selling more stories to Hollywood

Borja Bergareche Sainz de los Terreros   Entering a more balanced era

John Biewen   Podcasts keep getting better

Taylor Lorenz   Personal branding is more powerful than ever

Shalabh Upadhyay   A culture clash on India’s growing Internet

LaToya Drake   Listen up: New stories, new storytellers

Hearken   Pivot to people

Justin Kosslyn   Text hits a tipping point

Charo Henríquez   Pivot to journalism

Matt Skibinski   Quality and reliability are the new currencies for publishers

Rubina Madan Fillion   Fighting the reality of deepfakes

Rick Berke   The year of loyalty

Rebecca Searles   From silos to Swiss Army knife teams

Stephanie Edgerly   It’s time to understand the un-audience

Alexandra Borchardt   Newsrooms need to build trust with their journalists, not just the audience

Lauren Katz   Community becomes a core newsroom value

Raney Aronson-Rath   We learn “digital” doesn’t have to mean “short”

Laura E. Davis   More access, but not that kind

Victor Pickard   We will finally confront systemic market failure

Logan Molyneux   Seeing social media for what it is

Mandy Jenkins   Fight the urge to run away from social media

Steve Henn   Smart speakers get smarter

Sue Cross   Return of the water cooler

Jennifer Dargan   You don’t build diversity through one-off training sessions

Thomas Hanitzsch   The rise of tribal journalism

Francesco Marconi   The year of iterative journalism

Manoush Zomorodi   Tech will do for information overload what it did for mindfulness

Elizabeth Dunbar   Local reporters reflect on what’s not important

Carolina Guerrero   Spanish-language audio blows up

Candis Callison   Learn from Indigenous journalists on covering climate change

Simon Galperin   After capitalism’s fire, journalism’s secondary succession

Amy Schmitz Weiss   Local news isn’t where you thought it was

Greg Emerson   Power to the user

Heather Bryant   We are responsible for how we use our power

Ariel Zirulnick   Participation gets professional

Jonas Kaiser   Catching up with “Neuland”

Pablo Boczkowski   Reimagining the media for post-institutional times

Tshepo Tshabalala   Ahead of African elections, unlock partnerships with fact-checkers

Angilee Shah   The year news orgs say “yes” to real leaders

Jean Friedman Rudovsky   Cross-newsroom collaborations strengthen communities

Jesse Holcomb   We’ll get better at making the case for local journalism

Kawandeep Virdee   Media wants to take care of you

Gabriel Snyder   Journalism doesn’t fit well in a funnel

Hossein Derakhshan   The news is dying, but journalism will not — and should not

Rishad Patel   A design system for responsible publishing

Ole Reißmann   The rise of vertical storytelling

Andrea Faye Hart   Doing less harm, not just more good

Renan Borelli   Developing loyalty means developing your talent

Elizabeth Bramson-Boudreau   A more sincere definition of “community”

Meredith Artley   Huge demand for…anything but politics

Michael Grant   More newsrooms experiment their way to success

Efrat Nechushtai   Journalism wants to be your friend, not your teacher

Joshua Darr   The nationalization of political news will accelerate

Kate Myers   Journalism continues to be bad for democracy

Kyra Darnton   A shift to depth in video

Robert Hernandez   Racists and sexists get replaced

Rasmus Kleis Nielsen   A long, slow slog, with no one coming to the rescue

Joanne McNeil   Building a digital hospice

An Xiao Mina   The death of consensus, not the death of truth

Jake Shapiro   Podcasting is media’s slow food movement

Don Day   Timewalls and other reader revenue experiments

Cherian George   Fake news wins in Asia

Jim Friedlich   Meet Citizen Kane 2.0

Dave Burdick   Seeing our blind spots

Heba Aly   The rise of international nonprofit news

Nikki Usher   Three ways national media will further undermine trust

Seema Yasmin   We will create our own spaces

Nathalie Malinarich   Video — yes, video

Tamar Charney   Seriously: What do you do for people?

Robin Kwong   Tech shouldn’t be the only field pollinating “news nerds”

Becca Aaronson   From bridge roles to product thinkers

Carrie Brown-Smith   Advocating a healthy civic life is no journalistic crime

Umbreen Bhatti   The story doesn’t end for the people we quote

Sarah Marshall   A return to destination journalism

Alexandra Svokos   Good luck convincing us millennials to pay

Alberto Cairo   A year of uncertainty and confidence

Monique Judge   Committing to the truth, calling out lies

Ernst-Jan Pfauth   Readers are only getting started

A.J. Bauer   The coming splintering of conservative media

Mario García   The rise of content “pilots”

Seth C. Lewis   The gap between journalism and research is too wide

Steve Grove   A reckoning for tech’s work with news

Cătălina Albeanu   Being responsible for what we don’t know

Claire Wardle   Forget deepfakes: Misinformation is showing up in our most personal online spaces

Dheerja Kaur   A focus on problems, not platforms

John Saroff   The pivot to reader revenue’s unintended consequences

Bill Grueskin   Toward a symphony model for local news

Alyssa Zeisler   We expand what (and how and who) we serve

Millie Tran   There is no magic — you’ve got this

Julia Rubin   Meeting people where they are

Elite Truong   What do we owe the next generation?

Christa Scharfenberg and Vickie Baranetsky   The year of the lawsuit

Callie Schweitzer   The rise of the conveners

Tim Carmody   Unlocking the commons

Eric Nuzum   The year of the DIY podcast network

Jeff Chin   We detox from Chartbeat

Joe Amditis   Give the audience a seat at the table

Adam B. Ellick   Video forensic reporting goes mainstream — and local

Cristi Hegranes   A year to invest in the security of local journalists

Dan Shanoff   Bet on sports gambling

Jeremy Gilbert   AI finally becomes helpful

Linda Solomon Wood   The year of the climate reporter

Frank Chimero   Leave the phone at home and put news on your wrist

Mike Isaac   The old exit doors for digital media companies are closing

Kevin Douglas Grant   A year to embrace journalism as public service

Geetika Rudra   The year of actionable (local) journalism

Brian Moritz   The subscription-pocalypse is about to hit

Axie Navas   The traffic hunt, CMS battle, and magazine identity crises loom

Mariana Moura Santos   From pageviews to impact

Pia Frey   You can’t solve a crisis without treating it as a crisis

Johannes Klingebiel   We all grow hooves

Renée Kaplan   Our future could lie within our own organizations

Marie Shanahan   Newsrooms take the comments sections back from platforms

Ruth Palmer and Benjamin Toff   From news fatigue to news avoidance

Peter Cunliffe-Jones   The focus of misinformation debates shifts south

Matt Karolian   Publishers come to terms with being Facebook’s enablers

Rodney Gibbs   A bright — and young — year for audio

Kainaz Amaria   We consider who’s behind the camera

Masuma Ahuja   Make foreign coverage less foreign

Sarah Stonbely   Mapping the local news ecosystem — with scale but detail

Ernie Smith   The year we step back from the platform

John Garrett   You can’t raise prices forever

Ben Werdmuller   The platform tide is turning

james Wahutu   Think 2018 was bad? Wait until you see 2019

Elva Ramirez   News — but make it cinematic

Patrick Butler   Measuring impact will increase audience trust

Knight Foundation   A year of local collaboration

Glyn Mottershead and Martin Chorley   When a tech company pulls the plug on your story

Mike Caulfield   Ditch the media literacy cynicism and get to work

Libby Bawcombe   Haikus of the news

Matthew Pressman   The battle over objectivity intensifies

Stefanie Murray   Local news wakes up and starts collaborating

Frank Mungeam   Tonight at 11: News, sports, and climate change

Andrew Ramsammy   The great re-pivot to audio

Kelsey Proud   Journalism becomes the escape

Elisabeth Goodridge   Yes, they signed up — but our job’s not over

Matt Waite   “I went to Node.js because I wished to live deliberately”

Michael Rain   The year of the culturally relevant curator

Mike Rispoli and Craig Aaron   Government funds local news — and that’s a good thing

P. Kim Bui   The misfits become the bosses

Jack Riley   Facebook refugees, from ad revenue to news habits

Angèle Christin   Algorithms and the reflexive turn

Kristen Muller   Local news fails — in a good way

Ståle Grut   A new dawn for 3D tech in journalism

Errin Haines Whack   Say it with me: Racism

Adam Smith   Platforms will have to help rebuild trust in news

Nico Gendron   Reaching Generation Z beyond the coasts

Zainab Khan   Publishers whose products can stand up to social media giants will win

Rachel Glickhouse   Newsrooms will prioritize audience needs

Jared Newman   AI-generated fakes launch a software arms race

Alexis Lloyd & Matt Boggie   The year product leads media

Almar Latour   Reported facts, weaponized in service of action

Talia Stroud   Engaging people across lines of difference

Darryl Holliday   Let’s talk about power (yours)

Steve Myers   From trying to cover it all to covering what matters

Cory Bergman   Journalism as a technology service

Jonathan Gill   Publishers build a common tech platform together

Adam Thomas   In Europe, foundations invest in news

Cindy Royal   For journalism curriculum to change, its faculty needs disruption

Ben Smith   The pendulum starts to swing back

Kjerstin Thorson   Time to get mad about information inequality (again)

Simon Rogers   Data journalism becomes a global field

Joel Konopo   Influencers become the new liberated power in Africa

Colleen Shalby   Representation becomes more than a talking point

Chase Davis   We can acknowledge what we don’t know

Nicholas Jackson   More transparency around newsroom decisions

Eric Ulken   The year you actually start to like your CMS

Zuzanna Ziomecka   News leadership gets an overdue upgrade

Juleyka Lantigua-Williams   Podcasting battles East Coast bias

Salem Solomon   Correcting our corrections

Sarah Alvarez   Simplify and redistribute

Heather Chaplin   Agree we’re partisan — for the democratic system

Jesse Brown   Canada’s subsidy for news backfires

Jenée Desmond-Harris   It finally sinks in that some people aren’t white

Francesco Zaffarano   Towards a rethinking of journalism on social media

Moreno Cruz Osório   Damaged credibility and a new threat in Brazil

Peter Bale   Venture capital runs out of patience

Andrew Donohue   Voting rights becomes the new climate change

Bill Adair   Another year fighting Trump’s falsehoods