I’m working on a paper this week about podcasts and what makes them credible. Podcasts were a big thing a few years ago, still have some solid fans (like my husband and other people who commute a lot), and are kind of making a comeback now.
Podcasts are similar to other media in a couple of ways:
- They often mimic the format of legacy media with intro/segue music, interviews, voice over narration, etc.
- They cover topics of interest to particular markets, like talk radio and magazines
- They are sometimes produced by podcast networks like HowStuffWorks (secretly Discovery) and Maximum Fun, an independent network that takes donations as well as underwriting.
Podcasts are different from other media, too:
- They often have an irregular production schedule and length
- Anyone can make an independent podcast
- There are not the same legal strictures as radio – it’s not guaranteed to be in the public interest.
My paper focuses on independently produced podcasts, and is a continuation of work I did with some graduate students back when podcasting first became popular.
The question is what these independent podcasts, which are all informational, do to be credible enough for people to listen to them.
Previous research shows that independent media producers tend to closely mimic the format of traditional media. For example, if you write your own book, you’ll try to self-publish it on paper. They also use content within the media that speaks to their own professionalism – referring to how they got information, for example. My grad students analyzed the podcasts themselves for tactics that the podcasters used, and I conducted interviews with podcasters to see why they made choices about their podcast and what they thought those choices meant. Stay tuned for the results
My friend and colleague Dr. Dan Haygood did some important research on the opportunities in podcasting for advertisers (short version – there are a lot). Check out his own podcast on podcasting.