News organizations using entertainment to inform


Using podcasts and other forms of media, news organizations have been able to reach a wider, more technology oriented audience.

By Jaime O'Toole

Bigger news organizations with a national audience, such as the New York Times, have expanded their forms of communication past online print to mediums such as podcasts, tv series and Youtube series to get their information across.

“As of 2019, 51% of Americans ages 12 or older have ever listened to a podcast, according to Edison Research and Triton Digital survey data,” reports Pew Research Center.  

In this digital age, multitasking has taken over young lives, and attention spans have grown shorter. Length, time and distractions could explain why less individuals depend on print for their news. 

Social media is one distraction preventing kids from following the news. 

“Kids and teens age 8 to 18 spend an average of more than seven hours a day looking at screens,” CBS reported. However, podcasts are offering an efficient way to commit to news without having to read a long article while driving, working or even studying. 

This amount of time online is taking a toll on young readers though. One thing Melissa Ortega, a child psychologist at New York’s Child Mind Institute noticed is, “they may have trouble initiating interactions, those small talk situations. They don’t have as much experience doing it because they’re not engaging in it ever. They always have something else going on,” Huffpost reported.

With little human interaction in this time of issues like climate change and the fight for human rights, articles can appear daunting. That’s why contextual reporting can be a more effective way to get a point across than articles. According to Janet Saidi of the Los Angeles Times, storytelling on podcasts go “beyond the headlines, the usual shorthand categories of race and politics, and getting at the deeper meanings.”

“We’ve seen this interest in stories that goes beyond breaking news. Reporting stories that help us get more in depth, more perspective,” Nichole Dahmen, an associate professor at the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication, said. 

Besides this platform, news organizations have begun to pair visuals with information. The New York Times recently created “The Weekly,” a weekly series on Hulu where journalists discuss news stories and display the details as they tell it. Vox, another news organization, produces Youtube content daily, explaining a topic circulating in the news. 

“Based upon research outcomes,” Haig Kouyoumdjian, Ph.D., said, “the effective use of visuals can decrease learning time, improve comprehension, enhance retrieval, and increase retention.”

While newer generations have certainly adapted to a digital world, allowing for distractions and misinformation, several ways to communicate news and information have been introduced. Attention spans today can be concerning, but the news has found a way to work with it.