20200
P
1
20100
R  E
2
2070
D   I   C
3
2050
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4
2040
S   F   O   R   J
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2030
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2020
I  S  M  2  0  2  0
7

Opening closed systems

“As on-demand audio and podcast listening increase in 2020 and beyond, we’ll see new audiences take shape, more experiments, and deeper stories made possible by the medium.”

Audio has always been an extraordinary medium for journalism. The year ahead will be critical for that very intersection, audio and journalism — in particular for podcasts. Research suggests that 15 percent of podcast listeners worldwide and rising are tuning into news podcasts. There are other positive indicators of growth, too: the announcement that the Pulitzer Prizes will feature a new category for audio reporting, a rise in investments in the space, and IAB’s projection that this will be a billion-dollar industry by 2021.

As the podcast market here in the U.S. matures, journalists and storytellers around the world are also increasingly turning to audio. But, as with all maturing sectors, there are caveats. For instance, podcasting is built on the open values of the web: open and free. This is an important cornerstone of journalism in the public interest. But excessive consolidation or the outsized influence of gatekeepers could stifle growth.

Similarly, advances in ad tech could challenge notions of consumer privacy. In order to keep an open invitation to new audiences — and increasingly, as the data suggests, to news consumers — now’s the time to set standards rooted in strong values that will allow the medium to continue healthily.

As on-demand audio and podcast listening increase in 2020 and beyond, we’ll see new audiences take shape, more experiments, and deeper stories made possible by the medium. And we must enable this work through a vigorous spirit of innovation, as technology is inextricably linked with content strategy. This is no small task for an industry in flux, but since the beginning of PRX, this kind of innovative mindset has informed all we do. We’ve remained committed to opening closed systems and building pathways in support of new generations of independent audio makers and the audiences they reach.

Kerri Hoffman is CEO of PRX.

Audio has always been an extraordinary medium for journalism. The year ahead will be critical for that very intersection, audio and journalism — in particular for podcasts. Research suggests that 15 percent of podcast listeners worldwide and rising are tuning into news podcasts. There are other positive indicators of growth, too: the announcement that the Pulitzer Prizes will feature a new category for audio reporting, a rise in investments in the space, and IAB’s projection that this will be a billion-dollar industry by 2021.

As the podcast market here in the U.S. matures, journalists and storytellers around the world are also increasingly turning to audio. But, as with all maturing sectors, there are caveats. For instance, podcasting is built on the open values of the web: open and free. This is an important cornerstone of journalism in the public interest. But excessive consolidation or the outsized influence of gatekeepers could stifle growth.

Similarly, advances in ad tech could challenge notions of consumer privacy. In order to keep an open invitation to new audiences — and increasingly, as the data suggests, to news consumers — now’s the time to set standards rooted in strong values that will allow the medium to continue healthily.

As on-demand audio and podcast listening increase in 2020 and beyond, we’ll see new audiences take shape, more experiments, and deeper stories made possible by the medium. And we must enable this work through a vigorous spirit of innovation, as technology is inextricably linked with content strategy. This is no small task for an industry in flux, but since the beginning of PRX, this kind of innovative mindset has informed all we do. We’ve remained committed to opening closed systems and building pathways in support of new generations of independent audio makers and the audiences they reach.

Kerri Hoffman is CEO of PRX.

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