Podcasts are currently the best way to stay informed as a citizen. Television news, quite frankly, isn’t made for smart people. It focuses on the same things that Hollywood films and television shows do, controversy, conflict, car chases and explosions. They have talking heads argue with each other and invite politicians to recite talking points. They emphasize crime stories, wherever they occur and sprinkle in odd human interest stories and the occasional animal video. Most radio news shares many of the same problems. Reading news online is reasonably reliable and even highly recommended if you can find good, relatively unbiased stories have a lot of time to spend reading. Whatever you do, don’t rely on social media as a news source. You will not get the best sources or the truth, but a hodgepodge of whatever your friends think will get likes, shares and retweets, infused with conspiracy theories and orchestrated campaigns from governmental and non-governmental sources.
So which podcasts? How about a little more than an hour for the best stories from 5 or 6 reasonably reliable sources as a start?
MONDAY THRU FRIDAY
BBC World Service: Global News Podcast – 30 minutes – mostly international news with some UK news.
CBC News: World Report – 10 minutes – not a strong 10 minutes, – too much sports, American news and ‘human interest’ but it’s Canadian and if anything terribly important is going on, it’ll probably be included.
CPAC – Today in Politics – (when Parliament is sitting) 20 minutes, and a strong 20 minutes – a good overview of what’s important in Canadian politics today.
Up First – A 10 minute morning news briefing from NPR
the Daily 202’s Big Idea – In 5 minutes, James Hohmann of the Washington Post gives you one big story “the Big Idea” and the top 3 stories to watch.
Politico Playbook Audio Briefing – Anna Palmer and Jake Sherman are two of the most well connected reporters in Washington, Playbook is their daily 3-7 minute briefing on what to watch.
(For Americans: CPAC is Canada’s equivalent of CSPAN and not to be confused with the Republican Conservative Political Action Conference. Also, if you’re not interested in Canadian politics, add the Daily – A 20-minute news roundup from the New York Times, 5 days/week to the list above.)
I highly recommend that you listen to more podcasts. However, if that’s all the time you have, you’ll be relatively well informed, and the information you have will come from multiple, reasonably reliable sources in three countries, none of which are highly ideological.
Below is a list of other good podcasts, from other sources. Subscribing doesn’t mean you have to listen to every episode and listening to the podcasts on the list above will help you decide if you should listen to a given episode (read what it’s about and decide whether you’re interested and want to learn more.) It’s also a good idea to add a few weekly science and technology podcasts as the shape of the world going forward is going to be determined largely by science and technology.
Here’s the list:
- Canadian Club of Toronto – Very occasional podcast featuring influential speakers on public policy
- Canada and the World – a discussion of global affairs from from OpenCanada.org and the Balsillie School of International Affairs.
- (the) CBC Election Podcast – Éric Grenier, founder of ThreeHundredEight.com explores the latest political polls and what they’re telling us about Canadian politics.
- CBC News: At Issue – A quick, 10-minute weekly analysis of events in Canadian politics.
- Empire Club of Canada podcast – Very occasional podcast of influential speakers in a variety of fields from Canada and around the world.
- Follow Up Podcast – A weekly look at Canadian Politics from Huffpost Canada and Althia Raj
- (The) Global Exchange – A discussion of Canada in the world from the Canadian Global Affairs Institute.
- (The) House from CBC Radio – A bi-weekly show that digs into the weeds of Canadian politics
- Maclean’s On the Hill – A weekly look at Canadian politics from Cormac McSweeney and McLean’s magazine.
- A Podcast Called Intrepid – Canadian national security podcast with Stephanie Carvin and Craig Forcese.
- Political Traction Podcast – A weekly look at issues in Canadian politics
- QP Briefing – News and current events from Queen’s Park, Ontario
- This is Why – An in-depth look at a single current issue making news from Global News
UK AND EUROPE:
- Analysis – An in-depth look at a single, currently significant issue from the BBC
- Birkbeck Politics – From the Department of Politics, Birkbeck, University of London
- Brussels Sprouts – From the Center for a New American Security, small bits on Europe, the EU, NATO and Russia
- Economist Radio (all audio) – All of the Economist’s audio podcasts in one subscription
- European Council on Foreign Relations – Mark Leonard’s ‘World in 30 Minutes’ – A look at the big issues in foreign policy.
- FT Big Picture Podcast – A weekly podcast exploring the big issues and transitions of the 21st century.
- FT Tech Tonic – Explores the impact of technology on politics, culture and economics
- FT Politics – Weekly British politics from the Financial Times
- FT World Weekly – A weekly look at international news from the Financial Times
- Inquiry – The inquiry from BBC explores the “trends, forces and ideas shaping the world”
- Mark Leonard’s World in 30 Minutes – A global affairs discussion from the European Council on Foreign Relations.
- Politico Europe – A weekly(ish) roundup of political events and issues in Europe
- Politico’s EU Confidential – Bi-weekly show on issues in EU politics
- Carnegie Endowment for International Peace’s DiploPod – Commentary and Analysis on critical foreign policy issues.
- CQ On Congress – A weekly look at the US Congress, from Congressional Quarterly’s Roll Call
- Deep Dish on Global Affairs – A foreign affairs and international relations podcast from the Chicago Council on Global Affairs
- Deep State Radio – A twice a week inside look at American politics and power from the 3rd subbasement of the ministry of snark.
- Diplopod – Conversations about US international relations and diplomacy from the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
- FiveThirtyEight Politics – Nate Silver and reporters from FiveThirtyEight.com on US politics and the numbers behind them.
- FP’s the Backstory – On the ground reporting to give background and context on stories from Foreign Policy
- FP’s The Editor’s Roundtable – A weekly discussion on important global issues from the editors of Foreign Policy magazine
- HKS Policycast – A weekly podcast on public policy from Harvard’s Kennedy School
- Lawfare – A weekly look at US national security law and policy
- Media and Politics Podcast – From Harvard’s Kennedy School “features insight and expertise from leading voices at the intersection of media, politics and public policy”
- NPR Politics Podcast – A roundup of current events with NPR’s political reporters
- Politico’s Nerdcast – Politicos top reporters on the issues of the day
- Politico’s Off Message podcast – A behind the scenes look at what’s driving US politics.
- Politico Top Stories – The most important print stories from the Politico website read in full.
- Rational Security – “A weekly discussion of national security and foreign policy matters hosted by Shane Harris of the Wall Street Journal and featuring Brookings scholars Tamara Cofman Wittes, Benjamin Wittes, and Susan Hennessey.”
- Trend Lines (from World Politics Review) – Short briefings on issues in global politics.
- War on the Rocks – Insiders and Experts talk US defense, security, and foreign policy
- World Next Week – International stories to watch in the week ahead from the Council on Foreign Relations.
- Africa in Transition – An irregularly produced podcast on trends in Africa from the Council on Foreign Relations
- Asia Rising – A look at issues impacting Asia at the dawn of the Chinese century.
- Asia Unbound – An occasional podcast on developments in Asia from the Council on Foreign Relations.
- Global Politico – Politico’s foreign policy podcast with Susan Glasser
- IMF Podcasts – The world’s top economists discuss global trends; from the International Monetary Fund
- Latin America in Focus – A look at trends and issues in Latin America from the Americas Society/Council of the Americas
- United Nations Radio – Updates on the work of the United Nations and various UN agencies around the world.
- World Affairs – A look beyond the headlines from the World Affairs Council
- World Bank Podcasts – Updates on efforts to combat poverty around the globe.
- World Economic Forum – Podcasts on the ideas, trends, and technologies shaping the future
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY:
- Big Picture Science – Podcast from the SETI institute
- Blue Streak Science – A fun, irreverant weekly podcast from science communicator JD Goodwin and friends
- Infinite Monkey Cage – Scientist Brian Cox and comedian Robin Ince present important topics in science in layman’s terms.
- Nature Podcast – the latest developments in the world of science from the publishers of Nature
- Quirks and Quarks – A weekly science news and interview program from the CBC
- Science Magazine Podcast – Weekly stories from the primary publication of AAAS
- Science Vs – Separating scientific fact from rumor, myth, and meme
- This Week in Science – A casual, conversational talk show about the week’s top science stories from a variety of disciplines.
- Wired Podcast – science, tech, business, and culture reports from Wired UK
- WSJ the Future of Everything – A look at changing technology and its impact on society from the Wall Street Journal