Podcasting: the New Salvation for Online Journalism?

If print newsrooms are to survive, their managers must be open to innovation and creativity,  and podcasting can assist them, two Syracuse University students said at the 7th International Symposium on Online Journalism.

Podcasting is the distribution of audio or video files, such as radio programs or music videos, over the Internet. It is a niche that emerged in 2004 as an alternative way to create content for an audience that wants to listen when, where, and how they want.

The panelists, Major Highfield and Justin Sablich, discussed how podcasting is following the blogging phenomenon as a trend that has a lot to offer online media.

Surprisingly though, the newsrooms they surveyed that have implemented the new technology don’t seem knowledgeable about podcasting’s incredible potential.

 “Even though we found out that the newsrooms are supportive for this new technology, it remains underdeveloped,” the New Media students explained.

Is podcasting too elitist? The technology is not hard to grasp, the panelists explained. But  news managers have yet to figure out how to insert spot ads or images that will make a profit.

Most online newspapers don’t track their users, and this lack of data prevents them from being more attractive to advertisers, the panelists said.

Even though podcasting is not widely used among mainstream news media, it remains a successful alternative way to get information.

“You can really learn a lot about a very specific topic because there is no time limit, no censor. That is the exciting part of it.” Highfield said.

But intellectual barriers remain, such as confusion over the term “podcasting,” which makes some people think they have to have an iPod, or they must pay for a subscription to use podcasts.

In essence, the online news media need to take podcasting more seriously because that could help print journalism recover from its current crisis, the panelists said.

ISOJ 2006: Trends in Online News, from Knight Center on Vimeo.