podcasts
Just because you're busy doesn't mean you don't have time to catch up on the news. Take a listen to these podcasts. (Illustration by Alexa Finkelstein, Pratt Institute)

Amidst perpetual stacks of loose-leaf paper, research assignments and the overarching pressure of grasping sanity’s slippery fingertips, college students have virtually no time to read the news. Unless you are a journalism, communication or government major, chances are you are continuously weighed down by the curriculum in your own personal academics to allocate attention toward the intricacies that plague every sector of the globe. That is where podcasts can be a saving grace.

Reading the news or watching broadcast segments are point blank time consuming. Most college students simply do not have two or three hours of their undivided attention to spare in informing themselves. Nonetheless, the lack of time in their schedules should not warrant ignorance of the issues occurring around them.

Being aware of world, national and local news grants knowledge of what your peers or you could possibly face in your own life. Though print and broadcast media can be inaccessible due to tight student schedules, podcasts offer a realm of accessibility unparalleled to any other media outlet.

The convenience of podcasts stems from their portability

In 2017, the streaming service Spotify released a statistics page detailing the genres, exact times of day and number of students subscribed to Spotify premium within the higher education community. The study ranked student listening habits by college or university, instead of by individual age groups or accounts; for example, under top listening schools, the entirety of California State takes the top position with Washington State University following it.

The point of the study is that Spotify has an entire insight summary dedicated to college students exclusively. On the contrary, they do not have one dedicated to the 9 to 5 businessperson, employees at a given company or even educators. All in all, the study shows that college students listen to an overwhelming amount of music — and it’s because music is as effortless and portable as popping an earbud in on the walk to class.

Podcasts mimic that same effortlessness. Just as students listen to endless hours of music on their commutes to campus, at the gym or while doing homework, they can also make the decision to assimilate news podcasts into their schedules. Boasting the same minimal effort as any other audio platform, podcasts provide entertainment while also being a source of accountability for current events.

For those wanting to incorporate a little more information about the world they live in, here are 3 news podcasts available to anyone with access to a pair of headphones:

1. The Good News Podcast (Spotify)

“The Good News Podcast” can be found on Spotify. Seeing as the streaming service is a popular platform to many college students, “The Good News Podcast” can be listened to as easily as a student listens to their daily playlist.

With podcasts released every few days, “The Good News” covers a range of subjects that are newsworthy, but not highly discussed in mainstream media outlets. Some of their most recent podcasts covered Indian scholar Vandana Shiva, a charitable innovation in London, beavers and Seattle’s efforts to help its people deal with drug addiction.

Many of the stories discussed by “The Good News” are subjects that do not get as much coverage as international and national breaking news. The podcast’s producers, Neil and Colleen, bring awareness to the smaller idiosyncrasies in both American and overseas neighborhoods, while summarizing the most important points into their four-minute-long episodes.

The Daily (New York Times)

“The Daily” is a podcast hosted by The New York Times reporter Michael Barbaro. The podcast, which can be accessed from The New York Times mobile app or NYTimes.com, are produced from Monday to Friday for five days a week.

Each podcast episode is roughly 20 minutes in duration. The podcasts follow a structure in which each episode focuses predominantly on a breaking news topic or pressing story being discussed in the media. For much of the episode, Barbaro presents the facts related to the story, while also inviting interviewees and experts to expand on any ambiguities the story might entail.

In the last few minutes of each episode, Barbaro does a quick run through of other breaking stories either on a global or domestic scale.

The cohesive, well-rounded structure of “The Daily” allows listeners to not only gain deep insight into one timely issue per day, but also offers a nut graph (short segments explaining the context of the story) of similarly pressing stories to conclude “The Daily” news of the day.

Up First (NPR)

Running at approximately 13 to 14 minutes per episode, “Up First” functions similarly to T”he Daily,” but on a more concise scale.

Hosted by Rachel Martin, David Greene, Noel King and Steve Inskeep, “Up First” is also available five days a week.

The podcast covers the day’s top news stories ranging from Israel’s elections to Supreme Court rulings. Even covering subjects pertaining to millennials and college student bodies such as flavored electronic cigarette bans, “Up First” is a brief yet informative platform for young people to introduce themselves to podcast news.

Each weekday podcast is released at 6 a.m. EST, and can be streamed on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Pocket Casts, Spotify, Amazon Alexa and NPR’s website.

Of course, these are just three of the hundreds of news podcasts flooding the internet today, though they all cater to students who have differing time and financial commitments.

Ranging from the length of one radio hit to three back-to-back hit singles, the above podcasts are an easy method for students to become more worldly and aware of the issues going on in their lives.

Setting aside a few minutes of your day to become a better consumer of news can help you become more engaged with the decisions made on your behalf by people in power.

In the words of Sir Francis Bacon, knowledge is power. Becoming acquainted with the world around you is just the beginning of that.

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