A candy store for an audio producer: Joseph Khan #AndrewOlle Lecture

The other night in Sydney, New York Times Managing Editor Joseph Kahn discussed Donald Trump, fake news, good journalism…

…and podcasting.

As part of his lecture Khan described the experience of the New York Times in developing audio podcasts. He said:

We’ve learned some important lessons about ourselves and our product as we delve into new areas. About 18 months ago, as we and many of our peers were exploring how to expand our offerings in audio podcasts, we hired a talented producer from the American public radio world, Lisa Tobin.

We already had a number of podcasts, some of them modestly successful. But Lisa wanted to start from scratch. She said that many people had a sense of what The New York Times should read like, but she wanted to figure out what it should sound like. Rather than figuring out how to recast ourselves to fit the mold of the audio world, she was recasting audio to fit the mold of what The Times does every day, which is focus intensively on the biggest stories of the moment.

Lisa called it “a candy store” for a audio producer — we already had a nearly limitless variety of great stories every day, we just needed a new way to tell them.

That was the genesis of The Daily. It sounds simple enough. It was anything but — a massive lift to produce a high-quality podcast with expert sound-scaping and live interviews every day, which sometimes required ripping everything up and starting over at 10 pm. But what made it possible, aside from the hard work of Lisa’s team, was that she had access to a newsroom of 1400 people globally who were already chasing those stories and, with a little prodding, became guides to both the story of the day and the story behind the story of the day.

The Daily is a big success. It has had more than 100 million streams since we launched less than six months ago, and it will become a franchise. But the lesson goes beyond audio.

Maybe it took us too long, but we figured out that the “Voice of God” that once made much of our prose sound uniform and authoritative in print was holding us back. It sometimes caused us to edit out a sense of place, the obstacles and uncertainties of reporting, as well as the voice, and experience and personality of the writer.

And it is all of those things, along with the quality of end product, that makes the Times unique. You can now see us embracing the story about the story in all part of the report.

Read the whole speech here.

Converged creation and delivery technology has merged the craft skills of newspapers, radio and television together in this modern media world.

The NYT is an example of newspaper journalists entering the field of radio.

Are enough radio people entering the other specialist areas of media in return?

When we will we see a radio journalist win a Walkley for text journalism on a radio news website, or a radio reporter winning a gold Walkley for best photo? Maybe it will be soon, as there have recently been changes at the Walkleys to reflect new media journalism.

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