When my friend told me she didn’t like podcasts last January, I took it upon myself to change her mind. I recommended The Daily, a podcast from The New York Times with new episodes—you guessed it—every day. The podcast typically delves into one news story, with host Michael Barbaro interviewing a Times reporter who covered the subject.
As soon as I started listening to it last year, I was hooked; the podcast was such a fun way to consume news, and I felt more informed about topics than if I had just read a quick article online. Barbaro doesn’t assume listeners know the backstory of a complex political issue. He asks questions even when things seem obvious, and breaks down an issue in a way I don’t see a lot of other news outlets doing.
So I recommended the podcast to my friend. A day later, she texted me saying that she loved it. My work here is done, I remember thinking to myself. But then something funny happened: in a reversal of roles, as the academic year dwindled into summer, I stopped listening to The Daily, and podcasts in general. My friend kept listening, though. She’d often tell me about a really great episode and although I’d make a note to listen to it, I never got around to it. Strangely, as my routine changed from attending class in the morning to going to work in the summer, listening to podcasts didn’t fit into my day in the same way it had during the year.
Now, as I’m back into the swing of school, I’ve started listening to The Daily again. I love it just as much as I did last year. I find myself surprised, yet again, about how better informed about certain topics just from listening to this podcast. But then again, it’s not really too surprising. The majority of my news consumption comes from reading news online; and although this is convenient since I’m already scrolling through social platforms, I’ve started to realize that I don’t feel like I’m learning a lot from what I’m reading.
I tend to think a lot of people get their news from social media just by reading the headlines. Obviously, this means they can be misinformed and not know the whole story on any given issue. Even when I read full articles, though, I often find there’s a level of assumption built in; an assumption that the reader has read other articles on this subject, that certain topics don’t need to be explained on any deeper level.
So, as not only a journalism student but a citizen who cares deeply about what is happening in her city, country and in the world, I’m going to challenge myself to consume the news in other forms. This might mean finding another news podcast, or building time into my morning routine to read news websites or reading—gasp—actual print newspapers and magazines. I want to do this not only to read new perspectives and learn what people on all sides of the political spectrum think on an issue, but also simply to gain a better understanding of the context of current news.
I’m not sure what form my challenge will take. But just as listening to The Daily was a welcome change in my news diet, I want to continue to find new ways to keep up with the news. Maybe I will carve out 30 minutes each day to consume news. Or maybe I will try a different format—reading, watching, listening—each day for a week, and then choose what I like the best.
In any case, I’ll keep you updated by writing about my progress. We have so many mediums of news available to us, and it almost feels wrong to not take full advantage of that. I’m excited to read more and learn more; and if you feel like you’re not happy with the way you’re consuming the news right now, feel free to join me in this challenge!