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Cara Chan

Those in favor of tuning into podcasts enjoy the flexibility and productivity offered by the more immersive medium, while fans of articles argue they can gain a deeper understanding in a shorter period of time.

H2H: How Should You Get Your News?

January 30, 2023

Hear Me Out: Here is Why You Should Give Podcasts a Try

The most important thing in communication is hearing what is not said, according to Peter Drucker, the preeminent voice on 20th-century social science. This is ever so true in journalism — a field built upon communication itself — for a story’s most notable moments may be lost in translation when put to paper. These crucial auditory experiences could be the energetic bustle of a foreign produce market, the slight hesitancy in a disgraced politician’s interview or the Daily host Michael Barbaro’s signature syncopated “hmms.”

Podcasts succeed where written words often fail: immersion. The auditory medium places listeners directly into the story via diegetic sound and direct quotations that transform interviews into conversational exchanges.

“You can listen to the actual voices of whoever they’re interviewing, which is a lot more powerful,” English teacher Maithy Do said. “You actually get to hear the emotion and you hear the sound effects, so you really get the most firsthand experience of it.”

Furthermore, the intimacy and open-source nature of podcasts have resulted in the rapid proliferation of all sorts of podcasts tending to nearly all niches found online, according to the New York Times. The U.S. podcast listener base has grown by 40% over the past three years with over half of all listeners trying podcasts for the first time in the past two years, according to Nielsen Media Research

Podcasting’s low barrier of entry is also present from the perspective of the listener as playing a podcast is inherently lower commitment than reading an article because podcasts can be thoroughly enjoyed while doing other activities.

Those who listened to podcasts while completing tedious tasks resulted in greater productivity during an overall more enriching session with the added benefit of learning something new, according to a qualitative study by Lisa Glebatis Perks Ph.D. and Jacob Turner Ph.D. 

Do, who listens to podcasts each day as she commutes to school and when at the gym, noted that podcasts help her zone out and be more productive, especially when compared to the alternative.

“For me personally, I would rather listen to like 30 minutes of podcasts to hear a really interesting story, versus ‘Am I really realistically going to sit and read 30 minutes worth of article?’ No,” Do said. “So for me, I get a lot more in-depth information about a singular story through podcasts, which I don’t necessarily know I would get if I was reading.”

Still unconvinced? If you find yourself dissatisfied, simply try out new podcasts until you find one that you like. With over 4.7 million podcast titles on Spotify alone, there is bound to be one on a subject matter that interests you.

About the Writer
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Tyler Kim, Co-Editor-in-Chief

Tyler Kim is an Editor-in-Chief for his third and final year writing for the Portola Pilot. Besides the production's monthly spreadsheet, you'll be sure...

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Press Pause on the Podcast and Open up an Article Instead

Headphones in. Volume up. I press play on the podcast, and the narrator starts droning on recent protests in the country. I hear them describe the scene, the causes and — wait, did I finish that homework assignment? 

I mull over the last couple days trying to remember while the words of the narrator fade more and more into the background. Several moments later, the voice of the podcast comes into my head again, except… What are they talking about again? 

This would not be an issue with articles. Compared to podcasts, they are a more efficient way to concentrate and quickly grasp information since reading requires more engagement with the text. 

Students often let their mind wander much more when listening to an audio compared to reading, according to a study published in Frontiers in Psychology

Once distracting thoughts intrude during a podcast, it is much more difficult to recenter yourself, get back on track and follow along with the rest of the audio. With articles, it is much less tedious to scroll back and review a previous paragraph. 

“​​Articles can also have visuals; they can have pictures that can help you better understand what they’re talking about,” junior Sofia Szczedrin said. “With podcasts, they can’t really do that as it’s only audio.” 

These visuals work to support students’ understanding by representing the information they have read in a new medium, allowing them to make more connections and improve their learning, according to a study published in the National Library of Medicine.

Beyond just images, other related resources, such as studies or data, are often hyperlinked within the article, which can help further a reader’s understanding of the subject, according to social studies teacher Shameemah Motala. Thus, articles provide not only better focus, but also more methods to immerse yourself in the topic at hand.

In terms of big news events, articles are also quickly published and frequently updated to keep readers well-informed, while podcasts typically take longer to produce, according to Motala. 

“With an article you can be around other people kind of briefly scrolling through it, and you can catch the key terms, while with a podcast you have to listen to the entire thing to get all the information,” Motala said. “An article is like a quick skim-read, got it all done, so that makes it a lot easier to digest.”

Instead of passively listening to podcasts, turn to articles for more active learning and consumption of the news.

About the Writer
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Parmin Zamani, News Editor

Parmin Zamani is the News Editor for her second year on the Portola Pilot. She’s really looking forward to working with all the new staff members and...

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