Our top 2020 podcast picks for journalists

journalists podcasts

Since many people have found more time to listen to podcasts since the Covid-19 lockdown, we’ve compiled a list of the best podcasts we think are useful listens for journalists.

Podcasts are booming with almost 12,000 launched globally in ten months last year as reported by the Reuters Institute.

The trend is continuing with the Times and ITV News both betting on new true crime series, respectively named Who Killed CJ Davis? and No Strings Attached, in the past month.

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We’ve rounded up the best current media podcasts and our top picks of the essential news listening too.

This list has been compiled from a mixture of recommendations from readers and the Press Gazette team.

Media industry

The Tip Off – Maeve McClenaghan
Maeve McClenaghan Picture: TBIJ

Bureau of Investigative Journalism journalist McClenaghan hears from the journalists behind impressive investigative scoops about how they did it in the most gripping series of its kind.

Video journalist Aodhan Gregory said it was a “must for both new journos and old hacks”.

Recent episodes have featured a BBC journalist who went undercover to expose how men advertised for rent in exchange for sex, and a freelance journalist who frequently battles to report from the secretive family courts.

The Media Show – BBC Radio 4
Amol Rajan. Picture: BBC

Basingstoke Gazette editor Katie French said it’s a “must-listen for me each week” and we agree.

If you don’t manage to catch it every Wednesday at 4pm, this is an essential half-hour catch-up of the biggest media talking points of the week hosted by the lively BBC media editor Amol Rajan. As he often opines, if only it were longer.

Its remit is broad but thorough, covering the challenges facing the national and local press, magazines, broadcasters, advertisers and online platforms, with top journalists and chief executives often popping up. Our recent favourites include an extended interview with Yorkshire Post editor James Mitchinson and a debate on cancel culture featuring Andrew Neil.

On the Media – WYNC

A US-focused look at “how the media sausage is made” and how the choices we make about coverage on issues like police brutality and conspiracy theories shape the worldview of our readers, viewers and listeners.

Unfinished – Charles Thomson

A recent launch from Archant’s Investigation Unit, Paul Foot Award nominee Thomson provides a forensic eight-part look into the twists and turns of his investigation into a historic paedophile ring cover-up.

Media Tribe – Shaunagh Connaire

Launched only last month, the weekly podcast has already secured some fantastic and fascinating interviews with Channel 4 presenter Jon Snow, BBC chief international correspondent Lyse Doucet and Evan Davis, presenter of BBC Radio 4’s PM.

Connaire hopes the podcast will be a tonic for journalists in a world where they are often treated with suspicion by displaying their integrity and showing what life behind the scenes can really feel like.

  • In Writing – Times writer Hattie Crisell dives into the world of writing and how to do it with journalists, novelists and other types of storytellers
  • Longform – a similar premise of interviews with journalists and other types of writers about their work, but based in the US
  • Rough Cut – a must-listen for video journalists and documentary filmmakers telling stories from in the field and of the creative process
  • Write Lane – a Tampa Bay Reporter tells stories from her work and newsroom, and answers questions about the industry

Daily news

Since the New York Times launched The Daily in February 2017, more and more publishers have taken a shot at the daily news podcast market. Here are just a few we think are worth your time.

The Daily – New York Times

It was the first, and it’s still the most renowned of its kind. There’s a reason more than 2m people tune in every day – its interviews with New York Times journalists giving a glimpse behind the stories and a look behind the curtain into the newsroom is fascinating for other journalists and laypeople alike.

Press Gazette reader Aodhan Gregory told us “the quality… is second to none”.

Today in Focus – The Guardian
Anushka Asthana
Picture: The Guardian

Anushka Asthana hosts possibly the best UK likeness of The Daily, looking in-depth at one story each day in an approachable, commute-friendly way.

It won Best Current Affairs Podcast at the 2020 British Podcast Awards for good reason.

Newscast – BBC

Following in the footsteps of the hugely popular Brexitcast, Adam Fleming and a crack team of BBC journalists delve into an essential topic each day in a chatty way in which you get to know them at the same time as the issues at hand.

The Intelligence – The Economist

Aptly described as “daily burst of global illumination”, The Economist’s correspondents around the world provide excellent insight into the hot topics we should know more about.

Stories of our Times – The Times

In March News UK began successfully using its audio might to create a worthy podcast rival to The Guardian and even Radio 4.

Host Manveen Rana is especially adept at tackling subjects compassionately and with nuance, and as ever insight from the newspaper’s journalists adds a useful extra dimension to the stories.

Other recommended listens

More or Less – BBC

Journalists sometimes get a bad rap for their bad use of stats, and Tim Harford’s calm, clear and concise busting myths about some of those numbers is unrivalled.

Ways to Change the World – Channel 4 News
Krishnan Guru-Murthy interviews Lily Cole on Channel 4 News’ new podcast Ways to Change the World. Picture: Channel 4 News/Screenshot

Krishnan Guru-Murthy gets a chance to shine leading excellent long-form interviews that wouldn’t get enough space on a traditional TV bulletin or radio show.

He has a huge range of interviewees – sometimes topical, sometimes just interesting – and uses the time he has to slowly draw out revelations as people open up.

The Week Unwrapped

What a recommendation: Verdict journalist Matt Farmer told us The Week Unwrapped was his “secret to success”, offering as it does an interesting “what are the consequences of this?” look at lesser-known stories.

  • Any Answers? – BBC Radio 4’s essential glimpse into what real people think on the big issues in the news each week
  • Citations Needed – Delving into the intersection of media, PR, and power
  • Exponential View – Radar AI’s Al Renwick told us it is “streets ahead in curating insight into our fast changing world”
  • Full Fact – More or Less, but going beyond the numbers and fact checking everything potentially problematic from the news each week
  • In The Dark – Pete Sherlock, assistant editor of the BBC’s shared data unit, said its investigative reporting, especially in season two, was “just so bloody good”
  • Page 94 – Private Eye ventures into the audio world with its trademark tone
  • Science Vs – Where facts are the most important thing and rumours get debunked
  • The Adam Buxton Podcast – For a pinch of silliness with your interviews
  • The Inquiry – BBC World Service’s wide-ranging look at the facts behind stories and the influential trends and ideas of right now
  • The Slow Newscast – Tortoise’s deep dive into one investigative story each week, told in depth by the journalists and editors who worked on it
  • The Sun King – Six part tour de force from David Dimbleby charting the amazing rise of Rupert Murdoch (Much better than the recent three-part BBC documentary).

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