20200
P
1
20100
R  E
2
2070
D   I   C
3
2050
T   I   O   N
4
2040
S   F   O   R   J
5
2030
O  U  R  N  A  L
6
2020
I  S  M  2  0  2  0
7

A changing industry amps up podcasters’ ambitions

“Listeners will not be content to be mere passengers on our creative trip. They want to drive sometimes.”

The soundbites about podcasting are captivating. “$1 billion in ad revenue in 2020.” “800,000 podcasts in existence.” “90 million Americans listening.” “You can win a Pulitzer!”

It’s all dizzying and exciting for people trying to cash in on the buzz. But some of us on the inside know that the hype and drive towards profit will force a lot of podcasters to decide if they’re a pro or a hobbyist.

I believe that’s a good thing.

First, outside recognition, such as inclusion in the Murrow Awards and Pulitzer Prizes, signals a far more than mere acceptance for the nonfiction, journalistic genres flourishing in podcasting. It means podcasting is seen as a storytelling format on par with the best of what television, radio, and print media have to offer. It also means that podcasting is mobilizing audiences on such a significant level that major forces in media cannot exclude it from serious consideration. All that will legitimize the work that many brilliant independent creators are already doing. It will also extend the prestige of such honors to very deserving legacy producers and their teams.

Second, cross-pollination between media genres (i.e., podcast to streaming, podcast to film, podcast to VR) will encourage creators to think about their ideas as multidimensional, as seeds that can grow across genres and formats. Start with a good story or a fascinating main character and use the podcast to get the timeline and major details down. Then write a treatment for a long-form documentary that expands to important secondary players to get a capacious look at the larger themes at work in the narrative. Follow that up with a screenplay for a fictionalized version of the story in which an unexpected element (a superpower? divine intervention? time travel?) lets the story span generations back and into the future. The possibilities are endless.

Last, the approaching critical mass of sophisticated podcast listeners will come to expect more immersive experiences. That means a t-shirt will have to grow to a live event that will evolve to special access to the creators that will forge a community built around shared values that bind listeners to the show and to each other. Listeners will not be content to be mere passengers on our creative trip. They want to drive sometimes. The wonderful Podcast Brunch Club, with over 60 chapters across six continents, exemplifies the longing for connection podcast listeners feel. Its growth tells us a lot about what’s important when people gather around their favorite shows.

But these are all also among the factors will draw a line between hobbyists and pros.

Podcast hobbyists will experience 2020 as the year of reckoning. While some will be happy to produce an episode whenever they can find the time, others will leave full-time jobs and risk it all in podcasting. They’ll borrow money, drain their savings, and take a creative leap for a chance to be as financially fulfilled as they are artistically satisfied by making shows they love.

Current freelance podcast producers will find co-founders and go boldly together where each dared not go alone. They will incorporate, demand reasonable contracts, charge late fees, and reference knowledge banks like Werk It’s What Podcasting Pays Now and AIR’s Code of Fair Practices. They will take on technical and narrative challenges that will shed further light on what our genre and format can do. They will push their creativity to remain competitive but also raise their level of difficulty to stand out. And podcasting will be better for it.

I’ve seen signs of this change coming for two years as I’ve make the rounds at industry events and worked with some of the best producers and editors in the field. They’re poised to assert their worth as podcasting matures and monetizes its way into the mainstream.

The soundbites about podcasting are captivating. “$1 billion in ad revenue in 2020.” “800,000 podcasts in existence.” “90 million Americans listening.” “You can win a Pulitzer!”

It’s all dizzying and exciting for people trying to cash in on the buzz. But some of us on the inside know that the hype and drive towards profit will force a lot of podcasters to decide if they’re a pro or a hobbyist.

I believe that’s a good thing.

First, outside recognition, such as inclusion in the Murrow Awards and Pulitzer Prizes, signals a far more than mere acceptance for the nonfiction, journalistic genres flourishing in podcasting. It means podcasting is seen as a storytelling format on par with the best of what television, radio, and print media have to offer. It also means that podcasting is mobilizing audiences on such a significant level that major forces in media cannot exclude it from serious consideration. All that will legitimize the work that many brilliant independent creators are already doing. It will also extend the prestige of such honors to very deserving legacy producers and their teams.

Second, cross-pollination between media genres (i.e., podcast to streaming, podcast to film, podcast to VR) will encourage creators to think about their ideas as multidimensional, as seeds that can grow across genres and formats. Start with a good story or a fascinating main character and use the podcast to get the timeline and major details down. Then write a treatment for a long-form documentary that expands to important secondary players to get a capacious look at the larger themes at work in the narrative. Follow that up with a screenplay for a fictionalized version of the story in which an unexpected element (a superpower? divine intervention? time travel?) lets the story span generations back and into the future. The possibilities are endless.

Last, the approaching critical mass of sophisticated podcast listeners will come to expect more immersive experiences. That means a t-shirt will have to grow to a live event that will evolve to special access to the creators that will forge a community built around shared values that bind listeners to the show and to each other. Listeners will not be content to be mere passengers on our creative trip. They want to drive sometimes. The wonderful Podcast Brunch Club, with over 60 chapters across six continents, exemplifies the longing for connection podcast listeners feel. Its growth tells us a lot about what’s important when people gather around their favorite shows.

But these are all also among the factors will draw a line between hobbyists and pros.

Podcast hobbyists will experience 2020 as the year of reckoning. While some will be happy to produce an episode whenever they can find the time, others will leave full-time jobs and risk it all in podcasting. They’ll borrow money, drain their savings, and take a creative leap for a chance to be as financially fulfilled as they are artistically satisfied by making shows they love.

Current freelance podcast producers will find co-founders and go boldly together where each dared not go alone. They will incorporate, demand reasonable contracts, charge late fees, and reference knowledge banks like Werk It’s What Podcasting Pays Now and AIR’s Code of Fair Practices. They will take on technical and narrative challenges that will shed further light on what our genre and format can do. They will push their creativity to remain competitive but also raise their level of difficulty to stand out. And podcasting will be better for it.

I’ve seen signs of this change coming for two years as I’ve make the rounds at industry events and worked with some of the best producers and editors in the field. They’re poised to assert their worth as podcasting matures and monetizes its way into the mainstream.

Nico Gendron   Make better products if you want to reach Gen Z

Linda Solomon Wood   Everyone in your organization, moving toward a common goal

Sarah Alvarez   I’m ready for post-news

Ernie Smith   The death of the industry fad

Nikki Usher   All systems down

John Garrett   It’s the best time in a century to start a local news organization

Jennifer Brandel   A love letter from the year 2073

Victor Pickard   We reclaim a public good

Steve Henn   The dawning audio web

Moreno Cruz Osório   In Brazil, collaboration in a time of state attacks

Alexandra Borchardt   Get out of the office and talk to people

Sarah Schmalbach   Journalist, quantify thyself

Peter Bale   Lies get further normalized

Mariana Moura Santos   The future of journalism is collaborative

Geneva Overholser   Death to bothsidesism

Kourtney Bitterly   Transparency isn’t just a desire, it’s an expectation

Barbara Gray   Join local libraries on the frontlines of civic engagement

Mario García   Think small (screen)

Dannagal G. Young   Let’s disrupt the logic that’s driving Americans apart

Jakob Moll   A slow-moving tech backlash among young people

Raney Aronson-Rath   News deserts will proliferate — but so will new solutions

Errin Haines   Race and gender aren’t a 2020 story — they’re the story

Helen Havlak   Platforms shine a light on original reporting

Felix Salmon   Spotify launches a news channel

Sarah Marshall   The year to learn about news moments

Carrie Brown-Smith   Engaged journalism: It’s finally happening

Jeff Kofman   Speed through technology

Rachel Schallom   The value of push alerts goes beyond open rates

Laura E. Davis   Know the context your journalism is operating within

Nathalie Malinarich   Betting on loyalty

Craig Newmark   Formalizing newsrooms’ battle against disinformation

Heather Bryant   Some kinds of journalism aren’t worth saving

Richard J. Tofel   A constraint of the reader-revenue model emerges

Cory Haik   We’re already consuming the future of news — now we have to produce it

Masuma Ahuja   Slower, quieter, more measured and thoughtful

Kerri Hoffman   Opening closed systems

L. Gordon Crovitz   Fighting misinformation requires journalism, not secret algorithms

Beena Raghavendran   The year of the local engagement reporter

Simon Galperin   Journalism becomes more democratic

Juleyka Lantigua-Williams   A changing industry amps up podcasters’ ambitions

Joe Amditis   Collaborative journalism takes its rightful place at the table

Joanne McNeil   A return to blogs (finally? sort of?)

Greg Emerson   News apps fall further behind

Candis Callison   Taking a cue from Indigenous journalists on climate change

Marie Gilot   This is fine

John Keefe   Journalism gets hacked

Talia Stroud   The work of reconnecting starts November 4

Don Day   Respect the non-paying audience

Bill Grueskin   Our ethics codes get an overhaul

Tonya Mosley   The neutrality vs. objectivity game ends

Hossein Derakhshan   AI can’t conjure up an Errol Morris

Jeremy Gilbert and Jarrod Dicker   A call for collaboration between storytelling and tech

Alana Levinson   Brand-backed media gets another look

Meredith Artley   Stronger solidarity among news organizations

Millie Tran   Wicked

Carl Bialik   Journalists will try running the whole shop

Meg Marco   Everything happens somewhere

Jeremy Olshan   All journalism should be service journalism

Mike Caulfield   Native verification tools for the blue checkmark crowd

Ben Werdmuller   Use the tools of journalism to save it

Michael W. Wagner   Increasingly fractured, but little bit deliberative

Anthony Nadler   Clash of Clans: Election Edition

Bill Adair   A Nobel Prize, a Brad Pitt film, and a Taylor Swift song

Doris Truong   The year of radical salary transparency

Adam Thomas   The silver bullet

Emily Withrow   The year we kill the news article

Mira Lowe   The year of student-powered journalism

Cristina Kim   Public media stops trying to serve “everybody”

Ståle Grut   OSINT journalism goes mainstream

Alfred Hermida and Mary Lynn Young   The promise of nonprofit journalism

Matthew Pressman   News consumers divide into haves and have-nots

Annie Rudd   The expanded ambiguity of the news photograph

Brenda P. Salinas   Treating MP3 files like text

Eric Nuzum   Podcasting finally creates another mega-hit show

Rasmus Kleis Nielsen   The business we want, not the business we had

M. Scott Havens   First-party data becomes media’s most important currency

Rachel Glickhouse   Journalists get left behind in the industry’s decline

Kevin Douglas Grant   The free press stands against authoritarians’ attacks on truth

Seth C. Lewis   20 questions for 2020

Jake Shapiro   Podcasting gets listener relationship management

Margarita Noriega   The platforms try to figure out what to do with single-subject newsrooms

Logan Jaffe   You don’t need fancy tools to listen

Nicholas Jackson   What’s left of local gets comfortable with reader support

Lucas Graves   A smarter conversation about how (and why) fact-checking matters

Sarah Stonbely   More people start caring about news inequality

Sonali Prasad   Climate change storytelling gets multidimensional

Christa Scharfenberg   It’s time to make journalism a field that supports and respects women

Rachel Davis Mersey   The business of local TV news will enter its downward slide

Kristen Muller   The year we operationalize community engagement

Nushin Rashidian   Are platforms a bridge or a lifeline?

Madelyn Sanfilippo and Yafit Lev-Aretz   News coverage gets geo-fragmented

Lauren Duca   The rise of the journalistic influencer

Joshua Darr   All that campaign cash will make the media’s problems worse

Brian Moritz   The end of “stick to sports”

Jim Brady   We’ll complain about other people living in bubbles while ignoring our own

Whitney Phillips   A time to question core beliefs

An Xiao Mina   The Forum we wanted, the forum we got

Joni Deutsch   Podcasting unsilences the silent

Julia B. Chan   We 👏 take 👏 breaks 👏

Dan Shanoff   Sports media enters the Bronny era

Knight Foundation   Five generations of journalists, learning from each other

A.J. Bauer   A fork in the road for conservative media

Monique Judge   The year to organize, unionize, and fight

james Wahutu   Western journalists, learn from your African peers

Tamar Charney   From broadcast to bespoke

Stefanie Murray   Charitable giving goes collaborative

Francesco Zaffarano   TikTok without generational prejudice

Heidi Tworek   The year of positive pushback

Matt DeRienzo   Local broadcasters begin to fill the gaps left by newspapers

Kathleen Searles   Pay more attention to attention

Logan Molyneux and Shannon McGregor   Think twice before turning to Twitter

Jasmine McNealy   A call for context

Cindy Royal   Prepare media students for skills, not job titles

Imaeyen Ibanga   Let’s take it slow

Tom Glaisyer   Journalism can emerge newly vibrant and powerful

Mary Walter-Brown and Tristan Loper   Power to the people (on your audience team)

Colleen Shalby   Journalists become media literacy teachers

Irving Washington   Leadership isn’t something you learn on the job

S. Mitra Kalita   The race to 2021

Alice Antheaume   Trade “politics” for “power”

Elizabeth Hansen and Jesse Holcomb   Local news initiatives run into a capital shortage

Catalina Albeanu   Rebuilding journalism, together

Monica Drake   A renewed focus on misinformation

Sara K. Baranowski   A big year for little newspapers

Fiona Spruill   The climate crisis gets the coverage it deserves

Zizi Papacharissi   A president leads, the press follows, reality fades

Pablo Boczkowski   The day after November 4

Tanya Cordrey   Saying no to more good ideas

Rick Berke   Incoming fire from both left and right

Jonas Kaiser   Russian bots are just today’s slacktivists

Elizabeth Dunbar   Frank talk, and then action

Josh Schwartz   Publishers move beyond the metered paywall

Sue Robinson   Campaign coverage as test bed for engagement experiments