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.

Jake Shapiro   Podcasting is media’s slow food movement

Matt Skibinski   Quality and reliability are the new currencies for publishers

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

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

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

Michael Grant   More newsrooms experiment their way to success

Juleyka Lantigua   Podcasting battles East Coast bias

Jeremy Gilbert   AI finally becomes helpful

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

Ben Smith   The pendulum starts to swing back

Jeff Chin   We detox from Chartbeat

Kate Myers   Journalism continues to be bad for democracy

Ole Reißmann   The rise of vertical storytelling

Sue Cross   Return of the water cooler

Tamar Charney   Seriously: What do you do for people?

Winny de Jong   Data journalism goes undercover

Dan Shanoff   Bet on sports gambling

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

Ståle Grut   A new dawn for 3D tech in journalism

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

Heather Bryant   We are responsible for how we use our power

LaToya Drake   Listen up: New stories, new storytellers

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

Kevin D. Grant   A year to embrace journalism as public service

Ernie Smith   The year we step back from the platform

Kawandeep Virdee   Media wants to take care of you

Ben Werdmuller   The platform tide is turning

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

Andrew Ramsammy   The great re-pivot to audio

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

Candis Callison   Learn from Indigenous journalists on covering climate change

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

Patrick Butler   Measuring impact will increase audience trust

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

M. Scott Havens   Time to swing for the fences

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

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

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

Talia Stroud   Engaging people across lines of difference

Craig Newmark   The end of “loudspeakers for liars”

Borja Bergareche Sainz de los Terreros   Entering a more balanced era

Joe Amditis   Give the audience a seat at the table

Peter Cunliffe-Jones   The focus of misinformation debates shifts south

Carl Bialik   Fatigued news consumers will pay more for less news

Eric Ulken   The year you actually start to like your CMS

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

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

Linda Solomon Wood   The year of the climate reporter

Celeste LeCompte   Local news needs local conversation to survive

A.J. Bauer   The coming splintering of conservative media

Soo Oh   Just showing our work isn’t enough

Greg Emerson   Power to the user

Kelsey Proud   Journalism becomes the escape

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

Rick Berke   The year of loyalty

Becca Aaronson   From bridge roles to product thinkers

Elva Ramirez   News — but make it cinematic

Peter Bale   Venture capital runs out of patience

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

Rebecca Searles   From silos to Swiss Army knife teams

John Garrett   You can’t raise prices forever

Rachel Davis Mersey   Local news goes minimalist

Don Day   Timewalls and other reader revenue experiments

Shalabh Upadhyay   A culture clash on India’s growing Internet

Robert Hernandez   Racists and sexists get replaced

Libby Bawcombe   Haikus of the news

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

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

Michael Rain   The year of the culturally relevant curator

Mario García   The rise of content “pilots”

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

Jesse Brown   Canada’s subsidy for news backfires

Simon Rogers   Data journalism becomes a global field

Darryl Holliday   Let’s talk about power (yours)

Sarah Marshall   A return to destination journalism

Steve Grove   A reckoning for tech’s work with news

John Biewen   Podcasts keep getting better

Callie Schweitzer   The rise of the conveners

Zuzanna Ziomecka   News leadership gets an overdue upgrade

Dheerja Kaur   A focus on problems, not platforms

Rachel Glickhouse   Newsrooms will prioritize audience needs

Gideon Lichfield   Goodbye attention economy, we’ll miss you

Renée Kaplan   Our future could lie within our own organizations

Jim Friedlich   Meet Citizen Kane 2.0

Julie Posetti   The year of the fight back

Bill Adair   Another year fighting Trump’s falsehoods

Kainaz Amaria   We consider who’s behind the camera

Knight Foundation   A year of local collaboration

Mariana Moura Santos   From pageviews to impact

Ernst-Jan Pfauth   Readers are only getting started

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

Catalina Albeanu   Being responsible for what we don’t know

Thomas Hanitzsch   The rise of tribal journalism

Annie Rudd   A more intimate aesthetic of politics — on Insta

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

Hearken   Pivot to people

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

Bill Grueskin   Toward a symphony model for local news

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

John Saroff   The pivot to reader revenue’s unintended consequences

Nathalie Malinarich   Video — yes, video

Mandy Velez   Putting the social back in social media

Rishad Patel   A design system for responsible publishing

Cory Bergman   Journalism as a technology service

Seema Yasmin   We will create our own spaces

Monique Judge   Committing to the truth, calling out lies

P. Kim Bui   The misfits become the bosses

Rubina Madan Fillion   Fighting the reality of deepfakes

Adam Smith   Platforms will have to help rebuild trust in news

Renan Borelli   Developing loyalty means developing your talent

Elizabeth Jensen   Going where the Acela can’t take you

Francesco Marconi   The year of iterative journalism

Tim Carmody   Unlocking the commons

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

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

Steve Henn   Smart speakers get smarter

Christa Scharfenberg and Vickie Baranetsky   The year of the lawsuit

Brian Moritz   The subscription-pocalypse is about to hit

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

Ariel Zirulnick   Participation gets professional

Almar Latour   Reported facts, weaponized in service of action

Johannes Klingebiel   We all grow hooves

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

Errin Haines   Say it with me: Racism

Rodney Gibbs   A bright — and young — year for audio

Marie Shanahan   Newsrooms take the comments sections back from platforms

Zizi Papacharissi   Old interface, say hello to the new interface

Elite Truong   What do we owe the next generation?

Ruth Palmer and Benjamin Toff   From news fatigue to news avoidance

Andrew Donohue   Voting rights becomes the new climate change

Adam Thomas   In Europe, foundations invest in news

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

Reyhan Harmanci   Selling more stories to Hollywood

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

Jared Newman   AI-generated fakes launch a software arms race

Nikki Usher   Three ways national media will further undermine trust

Nico Gendron   Reaching Generation Z beyond the coasts

Taylor Lorenz   Personal branding is more powerful than ever

Matthew Pressman   The battle over objectivity intensifies

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

Shannon McGregor   More bogus embedded tweets in our stories

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

Stefanie Murray   Local news wakes up and starts collaborating

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

Charo Henríquez   Pivot to journalism

Geetika Rudra   The year of actionable (local) journalism

Lauren Katz   Community becomes a core newsroom value

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

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

Joanne McNeil   Building a digital hospice

Cherian George   Fake news wins in Asia

Alexandra Svokos   Good luck convincing us millennials to pay

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

Heba Aly   The rise of international nonprofit news

Andrea Faye Hart   Doing less harm, not just more good

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

Logan Molyneux   Seeing social media for what it is

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

Kristen Muller   Local news fails — in a good way

Jonathan Gill   Publishers build a common tech platform together

Laura E. Davis   More access, but not that kind

Julia Rubin   Meeting people where they are

Salem Solomon   Correcting our corrections

Eric Nuzum   The year of the DIY podcast network

Sue Robinson   Reporters go on the offensive

Pablo Boczkowski   Reimagining the media for post-institutional times

Elizabeth Dunbar   Local reporters reflect on what’s not important

Gabriel Snyder   Journalism doesn’t fit well in a funnel

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

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

Francesco Zaffarano   Towards a rethinking of journalism on social media

Alexis Lloyd & Matt Boggie   The year product leads media

Victor Pickard   We will finally confront systemic market failure

Kyra Darnton   A shift to depth in video

J. Siguru Wahutu   Think 2018 was bad? Wait until you see 2019

Emma Carew Grovum   The year of the loyal reader

Jack Riley   Facebook refugees, from ad revenue to news habits

Meredith Artley   Huge demand for…anything but politics

Moreno Cruz Osório   Damaged credibility and a new threat in Brazil

Joel Konopo   Influencers become the new liberated power in Africa

Nicholas Jackson   More transparency around newsroom decisions

Mike Caulfield   Ditch the media literacy cynicism and get to work

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

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

Carolina Guerrero   Spanish-language audio blows up

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

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

Mandy Jenkins   Fight the urge to run away from social media

Colleen Shalby   Representation becomes more than a talking point

Joshua P. Darr   The nationalization of political news will accelerate

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

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

Mat Yurow   Content competition from the tech companies

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

Josh Schwartz   A pullback from platforms and a focus on product

Sarah Alvarez   Simplify and redistribute

Alberto Cairo   A year of uncertainty and confidence

Jonas Kaiser   Catching up with “Neuland”

Chase Davis   We can acknowledge what we don’t know

Nisha Chittal   The homepage makes a comeback

Jean Friedman Rudovsky   Cross-newsroom collaborations strengthen communities

Masuma Ahuja   Make foreign coverage less foreign

Justin Kosslyn   Text hits a tipping point

Angèle Christin   Algorithms and the reflexive turn

Dave Burdick   Seeing our blind spots