Apparently newspapers aren’t just for packing up your dishes or lining your fish and chips basket. Even better; many print journalists are finding great success when they cross over into our medium, podcasting.
I’ve already covered how both TV and radio are encroaching into podcasting. Today, I’ll talk to you about how print, the oldest of old media, is making solid gains in and actually improving podcasting.
Of all the old media channels, newspapers make the least sense as the one to find the most success with podcasting. The tech-crossover between the two is relatively small. Until recently, there hasn’t been an obvious transition from typing to soundwaves.
Yet newspapers are winning the podcasting game over the other forms of old media. My evidence: The Daily. The podcast by The New York Times is often cited as the number one podcast out there. It’s a huge accomplishment that a newspaper somehow leapfrogged radio and TV to take the lead in podcasting. That’s not for nothing.
And it’s not just The New York Times. Many print companies are making advances into podcasting. Technology mis-match aside, this makes a lot of sense to me. Because there’s more to podcasting than sitting down and talking into a microphone. There’s the art of telling a clear and concise story. And print journalists are very, very good at this.
Print publications have the upper hand when it comes to understanding podcasting’s reach metrics. They grok “subscriptions” in way that radio and TV cannot. By and large, newspapers know the size of their audience. I don’t know the inner workings of paper printing, but surely they’re keeping track of how many printed copies go unsold on any given day, right?
I also think the print journalists themselves are driving a lot of print’s forays into podcasting. When they submit their column for printing in the paper, journalists are limited to a certain number of words or columns. A newspaper is a conglomeration of lots of different stories, all forced to share a finite amount of real estate. Not so in podcasting.
You’ll notice newspapers who podcast don’t just narrate the news they print as their podcast. Can you imagine if, instead of creating The Daily, The New York Times narrated and published every news story and column that was in the day’s version of The New York Times? Seriously. Who wants to read that? Few people read the NYT or any newspaper cover to cover. People find the sections or columnists that they want to read. And they skip the rest. For packing and fish-and-chips lining, obviously.
So journalists, quite naturally, love podcasting. In a dedicated podcast, they no longer have to compete for space with other columnists. They can go deep on their stories. Much deeper than they can in print, because there also isn’t a word- or page-limit in podcasting. With a podcast, a print journalist is free from constraints (real or artificial) to tell the story they want the way they want. The people who are interested in that story will keep listening to this story whether takes me one, two, or 20 episodes to get it out. The listener can choose to follow the story to its natural conclusion.
Journalists can use all of the skills they were taught in “J-School” to put forth the best possible story. Not only with typed-out words on a piece of paper, but now with words that come out of people’s mouths. Words that were captured during interviews for the story that can now be presented as they were spoken, without any loss of tone that comes from print. And with the sounds that also accompanied the gathering of story, making the final story more real and immersive than could ever be possible in print.
Smart print companies use podcasting as a companion piece to their newspapers. The NYT, the Washington Post… these publications and others understand it’s not an either-or proposition. The podcast can support the paper, and the paper can support the podcast. Newspapers still make a lot of their money from the subscribers of their paper, either directly or indirectly. Luckily there’s no need to blow up one and focus on the other.
I live in Arizona, and the Arizona Republic has been producing a handful of podcasts for a while now. (I’d love to link to their page showcasing all of their podcasts, but it doesn’t exist so you get the crappy search results page. Boo. Print may get podcasting, but they often fall short of the basics when it comes to digital strategy, I find.) In reality, any local publication, even small-town newspapers, could be and should be exploring the podcast landscape.
If there’s a threat to us podcasters, it’s a good one. When these professional journalists come into our space, they usually aren’t trying to replicate what we’re doing already in podcasting. They’re finding ways to take their professional approach to print-based journalism and then modifiy it to their own professional approach to making great podcast content.
And that makes us podcasters get better at our craft.
They may not know much about podcasting and its history, but they are professional journalists. While they may not yet have the same behind-the-mic skills we’ve honed over the years, they’ll pick it up. You know, just like we did.
The good news is we can learn from them. So if you’re worried the pro journalist will eat all of your cake, study up! Start listening to the shows — good and bad — produced by print journalists. Study their technique. Learn from them and improve your own show!
What newspapers or print journalists do you know of that are making great podcasts I should know about? Let me know in the comments if you like. Or you can go to Flick.group/podcastpontifications where lots of podcasters just like you are having conversations with me and others.
Since you got this far, how about mashing that 👏 button a few dozen times to let me know you dig the written-word version of my thoughts on these podcasting topics? I’d sure appreciate it!
This article started life as a podcast episode. The 233rd episode of my four-times-a-week short-form podcast called, oddly enough, Podcast Pontifications. It’s a podcast for working podcasters that’s focused on trends in our growing industry and ideas on ways to make podcasting not just easier, but better. Yes, you should listen. Here’s an easy way: 👇
Evo Terra (hey, that’s me!) has been podcasting since 2004, is the author of Podcasting For Dummies and Expert Podcasting Practices for Dummies, and is the CEO and founder of Simpler Media Productions, a strategic podcast consultancy working with businesses, brands, and professional service providers all around the world.