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

Podcasting unsilences the silent

“2020 will undoubtedly be a big podcast year for movie stars, presidential candidates, and the like. But we can’t let this commercialized, hyper-celebrity noise drown out the diverse voices, perspectives, and stories that can and should call podcasting home.”

Podcasting was a much different landscape ten years ago, back when we still had iTunes (not Apple Podcasts), when This American Life was still in its podcast infancy and when USA Today was so curious about these “free amateur chatfests.” It was the Wild West of on-demand audio, where podcasting’s rules could be made, broken, and remolded into anything that could fit into an RSS feed.

Needless to say, we’ve grown a great deal since this “dawn of podcasting,” from dynamic ad insertion capabilities to informative analytics dashboards and robust marketing strategies to, of course, Casper mattresses. It’s easy to see what we’ve gained along the way; it’s harder to see what we’ve lost in the process.

We’ve taken boundless show ideas and tied them down with hopes of being optioned for television and film. We’ve turned podcast feeds into self-promotional vehicles centered around selling instead of serving. We’ve focused on the profit rather than the power of connecting audiences. And in doing so, we’ve lost sight of the purpose of podcasting: to give anyone (no matter who and no matter where) a voice.

2020 will undoubtedly be a big podcast year for movie stars, presidential candidates, and the like. But we can’t let this commercialized, hyper-celebrity noise drown out the diverse voices, perspectives, and stories that can and should call podcasting home.

So what can we do to avoid the wasteland of this pod-ageddon? How can we ensure that podcasting remains open and vibrant instead of digitally gentrified?

  • Activate the community. They say that podcasting is “mainstream,” but remember: only 50 percent of Americans have ever listened to a podcast. The general population doesn’t understand podcasting, doesn’t know how (or where) to even listen, and doesn’t know why they might need the content in the first place. How can podcasting reflect communities if some individuals have never listened to one? We need to activate communities and educate listeners on the power of podcasting (more than repeating plugs to “listen on Apple Podcasts”). We need to emphasize the freedom of the format, the accessibility of the content, and the opportunity to grow from listener to creator.
  • Democratize the pod-public. Give everyone the tools to be able to build podcasts from the ground up. And if you don’t know where to start, just look to PRX as a model: Between establishing community spaces for audio storytelling, releasing a series of Podcasting 101 videos and designing podcast bootcamps to train individuals from around the world, PRX is setting the standard for what podcasting can and should be.
  • Collaborate, partner, and get out there. Podcasting doesn’t have to be a solitary medium. There are more than 500,000 active shows on Apple Podcasts, and there are countless organizations and individuals in your town/region/state that can learn and grow with you during the podcast process. Partner with a local school, library, or nonprofit. Collaborate with another podcast. Rethink your ideas and don’t be afraid to experiment with new sounds and stories.

Podcasts still have the capability to be one media’ greatest equalizers. You don’t need expensive recording equipment or editing software; you don’t need to abide by a broadcast clock or have a set length of time to record; you don’t need to have a certain voice or sound. Podcasts are for anyone to speak, to create, to be empowered, to break their silence. At its best, podcasts unsilence the silent.

In 2020, we must strive to create a more supportive landscape for equitable, community-minded podcasting — one that has value and, as such, is valued.

Joni Deutsch is on-demand content and audience engagement manager for WFAE in Charlotte.

Podcasting was a much different landscape ten years ago, back when we still had iTunes (not Apple Podcasts), when This American Life was still in its podcast infancy and when USA Today was so curious about these “free amateur chatfests.” It was the Wild West of on-demand audio, where podcasting’s rules could be made, broken, and remolded into anything that could fit into an RSS feed.

Needless to say, we’ve grown a great deal since this “dawn of podcasting,” from dynamic ad insertion capabilities to informative analytics dashboards and robust marketing strategies to, of course, Casper mattresses. It’s easy to see what we’ve gained along the way; it’s harder to see what we’ve lost in the process.

We’ve taken boundless show ideas and tied them down with hopes of being optioned for television and film. We’ve turned podcast feeds into self-promotional vehicles centered around selling instead of serving. We’ve focused on the profit rather than the power of connecting audiences. And in doing so, we’ve lost sight of the purpose of podcasting: to give anyone (no matter who and no matter where) a voice.

2020 will undoubtedly be a big podcast year for movie stars, presidential candidates, and the like. But we can’t let this commercialized, hyper-celebrity noise drown out the diverse voices, perspectives, and stories that can and should call podcasting home.

So what can we do to avoid the wasteland of this pod-ageddon? How can we ensure that podcasting remains open and vibrant instead of digitally gentrified?

  • Activate the community. They say that podcasting is “mainstream,” but remember: only 50 percent of Americans have ever listened to a podcast. The general population doesn’t understand podcasting, doesn’t know how (or where) to even listen, and doesn’t know why they might need the content in the first place. How can podcasting reflect communities if some individuals have never listened to one? We need to activate communities and educate listeners on the power of podcasting (more than repeating plugs to “listen on Apple Podcasts”). We need to emphasize the freedom of the format, the accessibility of the content, and the opportunity to grow from listener to creator.
  • Democratize the pod-public. Give everyone the tools to be able to build podcasts from the ground up. And if you don’t know where to start, just look to PRX as a model: Between establishing community spaces for audio storytelling, releasing a series of Podcasting 101 videos and designing podcast bootcamps to train individuals from around the world, PRX is setting the standard for what podcasting can and should be.
  • Collaborate, partner, and get out there. Podcasting doesn’t have to be a solitary medium. There are more than 500,000 active shows on Apple Podcasts, and there are countless organizations and individuals in your town/region/state that can learn and grow with you during the podcast process. Partner with a local school, library, or nonprofit. Collaborate with another podcast. Rethink your ideas and don’t be afraid to experiment with new sounds and stories.

Podcasts still have the capability to be one media’ greatest equalizers. You don’t need expensive recording equipment or editing software; you don’t need to abide by a broadcast clock or have a set length of time to record; you don’t need to have a certain voice or sound. Podcasts are for anyone to speak, to create, to be empowered, to break their silence. At its best, podcasts unsilence the silent.

In 2020, we must strive to create a more supportive landscape for equitable, community-minded podcasting — one that has value and, as such, is valued.

Joni Deutsch is on-demand content and audience engagement manager for WFAE in Charlotte.

Logan Molyneux and Shannon McGregor   Think twice before turning to Twitter

Anthony Nadler   Clash of Clans: Election Edition

Peter Bale   Lies get further normalized

Logan Jaffe   You don’t need fancy tools to listen

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

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

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

Heidi Tworek   The year of positive pushback

Brenda P. Salinas   Treating MP3 files like text

Rick Berke   Incoming fire from both left and right

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

Geneva Overholser   Death to bothsidesism

Kerri Hoffman   Opening closed systems

Carl Bialik   Journalists will try running the whole shop

Jake Shapiro   Podcasting gets listener relationship management

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

Knight Foundation   Five generations of journalists, learning from each other

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

Cristina Kim   Public media stops trying to serve “everybody”

Jeremy Olshan   All journalism should be service journalism

Nathalie Malinarich   Betting on loyalty

Catalina Albeanu   Rebuilding journalism, together

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

Felix Salmon   Spotify launches a news channel

Mike Caulfield   Native verification tools for the blue checkmark crowd

Bill Grueskin   Our ethics codes get an overhaul

Greg Emerson   News apps fall further behind

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

Pablo Boczkowski   The day after November 4

Sarah Schmalbach   Journalist, quantify thyself

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

Annie Rudd   The expanded ambiguity of the news photograph

Jasmine McNealy   A call for context

Seth C. Lewis   20 questions for 2020

Fiona Spruill   The climate crisis gets the coverage it deserves

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

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

Steve Henn   The dawning audio web

Victor Pickard   We reclaim a public good

Hossein Derakhshan   AI can’t conjure up an Errol Morris

Sue Robinson   Campaign coverage as test bed for engagement experiments

Josh Schwartz   Publishers move beyond the metered paywall

Meredith Artley   Stronger solidarity among news organizations

Doris Truong   The year of radical salary transparency

Don Day   Respect the non-paying audience

Meg Marco   Everything happens somewhere

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

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

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

Kathleen Searles   Pay more attention to attention

Talia Stroud   The work of reconnecting starts November 4

Masuma Ahuja   Slower, quieter, more measured and thoughtful

Francesco Zaffarano   TikTok without generational prejudice

Monica Drake   A renewed focus on misinformation

Sarah Marshall   The year to learn about news moments

Tanya Cordrey   Saying no to more good ideas

Sarah Stonbely   More people start caring about news inequality

Dan Shanoff   Sports media enters the Bronny era

Alfred Hermida and Mary Lynn Young   The promise of nonprofit journalism

Ernie Smith   The death of the industry fad

Joe Amditis   Collaborative journalism takes its rightful place at the table

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

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

Eric Nuzum   Podcasting finally creates another mega-hit show

Craig Newmark   Formalizing newsrooms’ battle against disinformation

Jeff Kofman   Speed through technology

Beena Raghavendran   The year of the local engagement reporter

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

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

John Keefe   Journalism gets hacked

Jakob Moll   A slow-moving tech backlash among young people

Marie Gilot   This is fine

Sara K. Baranowski   A big year for little newspapers

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

Nikki Usher   All systems down

Alana Levinson   Brand-backed media gets another look

Rachel Schallom   The value of push alerts goes beyond open rates

james Wahutu   Western journalists, learn from your African peers

Alexandra Borchardt   Get out of the office and talk to people

Joni Deutsch   Podcasting unsilences the silent

Tom Glaisyer   Journalism can emerge newly vibrant and powerful

Sarah Alvarez   I’m ready for post-news

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

Sonali Prasad   Climate change storytelling gets multidimensional

Jonas Kaiser   Russian bots are just today’s slacktivists

Tamar Charney   From broadcast to bespoke

Kristen Muller   The year we operationalize community engagement

Millie Tran   Wicked

Tonya Mosley   The neutrality vs. objectivity game ends

Mario García   Think small (screen)

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

Imaeyen Ibanga   Let’s take it slow

Alice Antheaume   Trade “politics” for “power”

Matthew Pressman   News consumers divide into haves and have-nots

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

Stefanie Murray   Charitable giving goes collaborative

Simon Galperin   Journalism becomes more democratic

Jennifer Brandel   A love letter from the year 2073

Colleen Shalby   Journalists become media literacy teachers

Heather Bryant   Some kinds of journalism aren’t worth saving

Emily Withrow   The year we kill the news article

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

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

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

Monique Judge   The year to organize, unionize, and fight

Cindy Royal   Prepare media students for skills, not job titles

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

Brian Moritz   The end of “stick to sports”

Nushin Rashidian   Are platforms a bridge or a lifeline?

Mariana Moura Santos   The future of journalism is collaborative

Whitney Phillips   A time to question core beliefs

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

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

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

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

S. Mitra Kalita   The race to 2021

Candis Callison   Taking a cue from Indigenous journalists on climate change

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

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

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

Julia B. Chan   We 👏 take 👏 breaks 👏

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

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

Lauren Duca   The rise of the journalistic influencer

Barbara Gray   Join local libraries on the frontlines of civic engagement

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

Helen Havlak   Platforms shine a light on original reporting

Mira Lowe   The year of student-powered journalism

Ståle Grut   OSINT journalism goes mainstream

Adam Thomas   The silver bullet

Ben Werdmuller   Use the tools of journalism to save it

Michael W. Wagner   Increasingly fractured, but little bit deliberative

Elizabeth Dunbar   Frank talk, and then action