10 podcasts to help you keep up with the news cycle

April 7, 2017

Russian meddling, bombs in Syria, White House intrigues, North Korea. They could be the lyrics to that Billy Joel song, but they’re also headlines spinning around the media landscape this week. The news cycle sped past overdrive weeks ago, and keeping up can feel like either a full-time job or a fruitless endeavor.  

If you find yourself overwhelmed with too much to read and watch, here’s a list of podcast to help you keep up while commuting, doing the dishes, or showering.

The Daily, The New York Times & Up First, NPR

A quick, informative start to your weekday (both post by 6 am), The Daily and Up First will fill you in on what you may have missed overnight. The Daily, hosted by Times journalist Michael Barbaro, has remained near the top of the charts since its launch in February. The slickly produced show dives deep into the reporting behind one centerpiece story, then touches on the major headlines of the day. Up First, hosted by Morning Edition anchors, debuted this week and, at around 12 minutes per episode, provides a quick distillation of what you need to know.

Global News Podcast, BBC World Service

If you’re feeling that news out of Washington has overtaken your newsfeed, check out this podcast from the BBC World Service. With reporters all over the world, a single episode often touches on stories that have gotten little play in more US-focused media. A truly international view…plus British accents!

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Pod Save America, Crooked Media

Four former Obama staffers mix insider knowledge, naked partisanship, and a dose of humor to create an entertaining, twice-weekly podcast that dives into the US political scene from the Democratic side of the aisle. Pod Save America has become a breakout hit, often topping one million downloads per episode. Several spinoffs—Pod Save the World, Lovett or Leave It, and Ana Marie Cox’s With Friends Like These—complete the Crooked Media empire.


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Code Switch, NPR

NPR’s Code Switch began in 2013 as a blog, but the podcast it launched nearly a year ago has become the centerpiece of the operation. Much has been made of the lack of diversity in the podcasting industry, and Code Switch offers a welcomed perspective on racial issues. Regular hosts Gene Denby and Shereen Marisol Meraji tackle hard news and pop culture on this weekly show.

The Editors, National Review

Long a cornerstone of the conservative media edifice, National Review finds itself in an interesting position under a Republican president it vehemently opposed during the primary. The Editors, as the name implies, brings together the masthead of the magazine for a weekly discussion of the news from the conservative perspective.

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TrumpCast, Slate

Rotating hosts Jacob Weisberg, Jamelle Bouie, and Virginia Heffernan provide an insightful, entertaining look at the news surrounding the 45th president. While the leanings are definitely liberal, each host provides a slightly different perspective on their chosen topic. Length varies, but most clock in around 25 minutes—perfect for an evening commute.

Can He Do That?, The Washington Post

DC’s paper of record draws on its reporters’ knowledge to explore “the powers and limitations of the American presidency.” Host Allison Michaels guides the weekly conversation, focused on a president unlike any Washington has seen before. With episodes released each Friday, Can He Do That? makes for good weekend listening on days when other shows are on hiatus.

On The Media, WNYC

New York’s WNYC produces a twice-weekly examination of the media’s role in shaping politics and society. Hosts Brooke Gladstone and Bob Garfield have recently focused on news out of the White House, but you’ll also find stories on a wide range of topics, from the business side of the industry to historical explorations of journalism’s role.

5 on 45, The Brookings Institute

Bite-sized bits of instant analysis from The Brookings Institute make this podcast a must-listen. The five-minute mini-pods focus on a single issue connected to the actions of our 45th president, brought to you by experts in foreign policy, economics, climate security, and more. If you want to stay informed but don’t have a lot of time, this pod is essential.

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Pete Vernon is a former CJR staff writer. Follow him on Twitter @ByPeteVernon.