Podcasts for when you want to take a deeper look at the stories passing through the news cycle.
The news cycle can get a bit overwhelming. Brexit, Trump, we’re destroying the planet and then Brexit and Trump again, just in case we forgot about them…
It’s a lot to take in - and no-one can blame you if you just want to switch off sometimes. There is a way to get around it, though. Podcasts that keep you in the know and do so in an entertaining, and often deeper, way.
Here are five that I love and would recommend to anyone. Some of them talk about current events and others go back and dissect things that have already happened. They all have one thing in common – they go beyond the headlines and give you a lot more of the detail and backstory that you’d never get in traditional news.
This 7-episode series by Gimlet went back through big events and headlines in history and looked at what really happened beyond what was reported at the time. While the stories are US-centric, all of them are fascinating no matter where you’re from.
2. Slow Burn
This show from Slate is a serialised political documentary. It is gripping in a way that makes you want to instantly go into politics and be part of all the shady goings on (or maybe that’s just me... ). So far, it has only focused on American politics but there are big events that you will definitely want to find out more about. Season 1 went deep into Watergate and the second talks all about Bill Clinton’s sexual misconduct scandals. Yes, that’s scandals plural.
3. This American Life – ep. 669 ‘Scrambling to get off the ice’
This American Life have always produced political stories, but in recent years, in the hands of producer Zoe Chace, their political reporting has reached a new level. She has inside access to many Republicans and Democrats and she is able to pull back the curtain on dull backroom processes and machinations in a way that makes them actually interesting - and funny. Episode 669 features, amongst other stories, one about the Democrats’ newfound political power and how they’re learning to use it again.
4. Criminal – Hostage
There are so many true crime podcasts - too many some might say. Criminal is different, though. The stories focus on the human aspect and are never sensationalised. The show doesn’t linger on the obvious and goes a step further to explore new and surprising sides to the stories. The episode ‘Hostage’ does that with the crime that inspired the term ‘Stockholm syndrome’ and features the people who were actually people involved.
5. Today in Focus
What The Guardian’s daily news podcast does so well is that it doesn’t give you the daily news – you can read the newspaper for that. Today in Focus dissects two topics each day that you may have missed or which need a closer look. Through its sound design and Anushka Asthana’s great voice and style, you find yourselves being interested in stories you’d never choose to read in the newspaper.
…Oh, and one more. If you’re a fan of these shows, we would love to hear what you think of Undiscovered - our podcast which tells stories that haven’t received much attention in mainstream news (but that definitely deserved it). In season one, we did a deep dive into the human experiments conducted by the Japanese army in WW2, explored all sides of the assisted dying debate and more. Give it a listen!