It’s fair to say that last week was a rather busy one in British politics, with breaking news almost every ten minutes, a flood of words on Twitter, countless opinions on various talk-based radio stations, and the manic intensity to ‘keep watching our news channel” all begging for attention.
As in previous fast-moving political days, the comments thread on Political Betting felt the best place to get my rolling news updates, but this week also saw some of my politics podcasts step up to the plate, with so-called ‘emergency episodes’ showing up in my feeds.
I’m not a devout listener every week to the main political podcasts that I follow and support (Oh God What Now, For The Many, and The Rest Is Politics). A lot depends both on the news that week and how much I want to engage with current affairs when I open up my podcast player. Still, last week was a time when I wanted a bit more analysis of the news, some longer discussions not constrained by the rigors of broadcast radio and television, and I wanted voices that I trust.
I was able to turn to podcasting to deliver that.
Trust is something that has built up over some time. Are there views of the various hosts on these podcasts that I disagree with? For sure, but these views are nuanced and have become part of the podcast. You can listen to other viewpoints without agreeing with them, and it’s worth noting that both For the Many and The Rest Is Politics are two-hander podcasts with both the right and left of UK politics represented.
The podcasts also offered longer discussions on the various topics, and crucially they could be more “inside baseball” because they know the audience is more in tune both with the political language and the hosts’ own opinions. The contrast between these podcasts and the mainstream appearances made by the same voices were either shorter contributions or radio shows that served a much broader audience, were clear.
In terms of breaking the news, podcasts are going to struggle because they are not “live”. That’s okay. There are other tools better suited to that. Once the news has been broken, there’s always a need to discuss why this news is important, what it means, who it involves, and where its impact will be felt.
Last week, I found podcasters best served those needs.