Daily News Podcasts – A Lifeline During the Coronavirus Pandemic

Daily News

For many listeners daily news podcasts have become a lifeline during the coronavirus pandemic. These on-demand audio briefings are attracting large audiences and building habit and loyalty for publishers as well as delivering significant revenue. In our analysis of 102 shows from six countries it’s clear that the popularity of this format has been fuelled by the public’s need for a deep, considered explanation of a fast-moving story and a consistent update on a developing crisis.

As a result, daily news podcasts have attracted significant investment from both commercial and public broadcasters in the past year. Danish public service broadcaster DR launched its new show just as the pandemic began, while Radio France and NBC News in the US have made fresh investments. And even tech giant Apple News has started its own daily show aimed at morning audiences – the first from a major platform.

In its heyday, the Daily News was one of America’s most popular papers and had a reputation for investigative journalism. Its front page coverage was famous for highlighting political wrongdoing such as the Teapot Dome scandal and social intrigue such as the romance between Wallis Simpson and King Edward VIII that led to her abdication. The paper also maintained local bureaus in the city and invested heavily in photography.

While the Daily News’ legacy remains evident in its name, it is uncertain whether the newspaper can survive in a new media landscape. Its new owners, the cost-slashing hedge fund Alden Global Capital, have already imposed staff buyouts and cut deadlines to a point that many journalists believe they are nearing breaking point.

However, there are signs that the appetite for daily news is growing. In the US alone there are now more than 30 daily news podcasts, including offerings from The Times, CNN and the New York Post. This is partly down to the success of The Daily, which has become the fastest-growing show in podcasting history with more than 4 million downloads so far.

Publishers pursuing subscription business models say that a daily news podcast can help them engage with a younger audience and grow subscription revenues, while helping to reduce churn among existing subscribers. It can also be an important tool for establishing trust and credibility with an increasingly discerning audience.

There is no single format for a daily news podcast, with some opting for an interview-based approach allowing hosts to build relationships with their audiences. Others, such as NBC’s Today Explained and Le Monde’s new microbulletin podcast, are designed to be more efficient, with short segments focused on the news itself. And in all formats there is no doubt that the role of the host plays a crucial part. Their vocal tone and delivery of the facts set the tone for the entire programme, as do their use of musical stings and other audio branding.