One of the African podcasting trends that I have struggled to explain is the slow uptake of podcasting by journalism entities on the continent.
Despite journalism and podcasting being extremely well-matched, African journalists have not really been part of the growth and revolution of podcasting. As a former journalist myself, I am particularly surprised at news organizations that have yet to even consider a podcast strategy.
If you are one of these news organizations, this needs to change.
Why? Some of the best podcasts in the world are produced by journalists (think “NYTimes’ The Daily,” and “Serial” among thousands of others) because our skill set includes the things that are needed for good podcasts: great storytelling and good production.
We have also honed our (investigative) reporting and interview skills over years of work.
However, it appears that foreign news organizations like the BBC World Service and RFI, as well as independent/freelance journalists like the teams at South Africa-based Volume and Kenya-based AfroQueer, have been the early adopters of journalism-based podcasts on the continent. We are also seeing non-journalists successfully take on the stories and work that news organizations are failing to cover.
I do understand there is a time and financial investment that many organizations are not willing to take on as explained in my post on “The 3 Most Common Causes Of Death For African Podcasts”. But for those still on the fence, here are reasons why African journalists should consider podcasting:
- Build or show expertise in a specific area
If you spend a whole year reporting on a specific beat, you’ll of course become an expert on that subject. Similarly, if you create 52 episodes around a specific subject matter you will be seen as an expert in that area.
- Work on stories that are often overlooked
Podcasting allows for depth, a luxury that is not often allowed to journalists chasing deadline. But it also allows us to work on the stories that fall to the wayside. Although our goal is to cover the life and times of our society, there is a lot of politics around the stories that get published. Podcasts give room to cover those story that are often left behind.
- Reach new audiences
With podcasts, there is an opportunity to reach new audiences. Podcasts are a way to connect your primary journalistic outlet (print,broadcast, digital) to these new audiences, and invite them into the larger offerings of your organization. You can read up on case studies from organizations that have been able to do this successful worldwide.
Other reasons journalists should podcast include the added value for freelance journalists expanding their portfolios and the opportunity to build your brand as a journalist.
I, myself, have had meetings with numerous news organizations continent-wide about potential podcast opportunities and strategies. It is encouraging to see those news organizations and journalists that do take the leap.
For example, three years ago, I was invited to a board/group meeting held by Kenya’s Nation Media Group to share my thoughts on the future of journalism in East Africa. I spent all my time talking about the future of podcasting.
Perhaps my talk hit home, perhaps it did not. But I’m excited to see the news organization not only launch their own original podcasts, but it is also building a podcast network with some of Kenya’s most interesting podcasters.
These are the moves I like to see.
If you are an African journalist that is or considering podcasting, I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments. And if you are an African news organization ready to take the leap, reach out and let’s talk!
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