Lessons from a daily news podcast

News is perishable. It’s not evergreen. Podcasting is generally better for content that has a long shelf life.

How do you produce a daily news show for a podcast?

I lead a team that tried to tackle that task, and we learned a few things along the way.

IT DEPENDS…

I can challenge the statements at the beginning of this article, just as you already should have. “News is not evergreen.” It depends on what kind of news. Breaking news is perishable, “stories” are not. If all news had no shelf life people wouldn’t be sharing links on line days, weeks, months or even years after a story is first published. Some of your news stories will perish, and some will live on.

“Podcasting is better with a long shelf life.” The more often you publish, the less time your audience has to get the latest show and listen. But if you only care about your audience hearing the last episode, then I guess this doesn’t matter, does it?

So you just have to decide what you want to be. What will be the promise you make to your audience?

Here are some of the things we decided that I think worked for us, and they could work for you too.

MISSION:

You will not beat Twitter with breaking news, you will not beat any news app alerts, so you should not be racing to be first. It might be obvious, but you need to recognize that your podcast will not be a primary source of news information.

You should strive to be your listeners’ primary source of news context and explanation, not news information.

STORY SELECTION:

This is the same as putting together any daily news for any platform. You should have a balanced variety of subjects, presentation styles, and “seriousness” or story importance. Think of it like a meal. Protein, carbs, vegetables, desert.

People who listen to a daily news podcast will likely already know the top 3 or 5 headlines of the day. (Psst… the news actually doesn’t change that much hour to hour, day to day.) Find a way to acknowledge that you as the news producer are aware of the day’s events. Mention them.

The stories you choose to focus on should be the ones when you can go past the first layer of who, what, why, where, when or how. Only when you can deliver valuable context, some kind of deeper understanding to your listeners, should you go further.

Look at your stories one by one, and pick one of the elements (who, what, why, where, when or how) to go deeper. Maybe it’s a profile of the people involved in a story, maybe it’s a timeline of events, maybe it’s an explanation of parliamentary procedure, just look at the stores and decide what depth will be a service to your audience.

Don’t be afraid to pass on a story. You should only publish a story when you actually have some value to deliver.

STORY PRODUCTION

Use all of your creative muscles to tell stories to your listeners in different ways, and balance each show with different styles.

This is an area where radio news, and audio production could really use some innovation. Finding new ways to tell stories isn’t easy.

GREAT STORIES

As a team we strived to deliver great stories to our audience. We broke it down to these elements:

GREAT STORIES:
– Are human
– Have Learnings
– Have conflict or surprises
– Take listeners on a journey with a clear beginning, middle and end.

STRIVE TO PROVIDE CONTEXT NOT JUST GIVE INFORMATION:
– Historical
– Political
– Geographical
– Demographic
– Behavioral

THAT’S IT

Choose a balance of stories that perish and live on, the type of depth you deliver, and the type of production style you use. Keep a healthy mix of this going and you will have one hell of a daily news podcast, just like we did.

Thanks for reading, you can find more ways to connect with me at www.tylermoody.com

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