In this culture of news overload, it can feel like there are only two choices: You either accept that you are destined to live under a rock and carry on a life of blissful ignorance, or you sacrifice your meager downtime for the sake of keeping up to date, subsequently dying of stress.
A study published in June 2018 by the PEW Research Center found that 68 percent of Americans feel worn out by the number of potential news stories to keep up with on a daily basis. This trend is certainly applicable to college students, whose news fatigue is amplified by busy and erratic schedules, but news podcasts can provide a healthy balance between time and hunger for information.
Whether you choose to listen on your commute, the treadmill or as you walk to class, there are certainly news podcasts that can work for you. There are endless options, but here are a few recommendations, curated for your collegiate needs.
1. “NPR News Now“
For the news junky with little to no time, “NPR News Now” is the perfect fit. Updated hourly, it provides five-minute clips on the latest news throughout the week.
There are several strengths to this format, aside from convenience. The continuous updates ensure you’re always getting the most current version of any story, no matter when you choose to tune in. Additionally, each episode condenses a considerable amount of information into a short amount of time, covering an average of five major news stories per release. Coverage of each story usually includes a short summary of the situation followed by input or commentary from an NPR correspondent covering the story.
As efficient as it is, “NPR News Now” has some drawbacks. The podcast is, for the most part, centered around U.S. news, which excludes global news and narrows the scope of your awareness. It also focuses almost entirely on politics and hard news, excluding human-interest stories outside that arena, which can be just as important. The five stories also have an overwhelming amount of information to take in within five minutes, let alone comprehend.
If all you want is a general idea of what is going on, this podcast is the best option. However, if developing a comprehensive understanding of each news story and its impact is important to you, keep looking.
2. “Up First“
Another podcast by NPR, “Up First” covers the most relevant news of the day, so you can start off informed, whether you’re a morning person or suffering through the early hours before an 8 a.m. class. Episodes range from 10 – 15 minutes and are posted every weekday at 6 a.m EST. This podcast offers a middle ground between the short format offered by “NPR News Now” and other longer options.
Hosted by Rachel Martin, David Greene and Steve Inskeep, “Up First” features reporting and analysis from NPR News correspondents on the most relevant stories of the day. Covering everything from politics to pop culture in the U.S. and abroad, the podcast has a comfortable, conversational feel. It includes interview clips, discussions among the hosts and correspondents and parts of relevant public addresses. The comprehensive analysis of each story’s impact allows for a more in-depth look at the news.
Still, there are drawbacks to “Up First.” The show is only updated on weekdays, leaving the weekend completely uncovered, and while the short time limit does not impact thoroughness, it can affect the scope of the stories discussed, leaving out important events. Still, this podcast is one of the best options for anyone who has little time but still values having a working understanding of crucial current events.
3. “The Daily“
Maybe having all the news stories of the day summarized is not for you. If you’re simply looking for a podcast to supplement your reading or watching, “The Daily” may be your news podcast. Hosted by Michael Barbaro and powered by the reporting of New York Times journalists, episodes range from 25 – 30 minutes and are uploaded every weekday at 6 a.m. local time. This podcast focuses on one story and covers it at length, providing a quick summary of a few other stories toward the end of the episode.
Compared to other news podcasts, the main strength of “The Daily” lies an in-depth discussion of an impactful story. However, because it only delves into one story a day, it leaves significant information gaps on other current events. This podcast also runs into the same problem as “Up First”: Because it is only uploaded on weekdays, you have to look elsewhere during the weekend to stay in the loop.
Nevertheless, if your main priority in news podcasts is fully understanding key news stories and their impact, “The Daily” will allow you to do just that.
4. “Today Explained“
If listening to the news early in the morning cramps your style and you’d rather maintain a wide-eyed sense a positivity until later in the day, tuning into “Today Explained” is the way to go. Uploaded every weekday by 5 p.m. local time, the Vox production, created in collaboration with Stitcher, is aimed at covering hard-hitting news in 25 minutes or less. In a style similar to that of “The Daily,” this podcast covers one particularly impactful news story a day, tackling it from every angle. This includes interviews with experts and individuals affected by the event, along with commentary and analysis from Vox correspondents and the host, Sean Rameswaram.
“Today Explained” allows you to end your day with a helpful recap of what events have impacted the world. The time it is released ensures that it will be up to date even when covering stories that shift throughout the day. However, its one-story focus can ignore other equally pressing issues, so to fully catch up, you’ll have to look at other news podcasts.
The “BBC Global News Podcast” is for the ultimate news aficionado. Updated twice a day on weekdays and once on weekends, this podcast from the BBC World Service covers the day’s top stories all around the world. Coverage is extensive, including story summaries, analysis and interviews. Its thoroughness, understandably, leads it to be the longest on this list, averaging a length of 30 minutes, or a full hour if you choose to tune in for both episodes.
If a well-rounded report is what you seek, look no further. Its main drawback is the major time commitment it entails. Additionally, as a global news podcast, they focus less on U.S. news and politics, although they are mentioned. Still, if not suitable for your everyday listening, this podcast could aid in supplementing the weekend dead air other podcasts may leave.
This, of course, is not an exhaustive list of all news podcasts the vast world of audio content has to offer, simply a compilation of those meant to fit different schedules, preferences and listening habits. So, if these aren’t your style, there are plenty more to check out. At the end of the day, it’s just about not being entirely clueless.