Podcasts are all the rage right now, and that can probably be attributed to the break-out success of “Serial“, the “This American Life” spinoff that is a true-crime drama told in episodes. Of course, a wildly successful production isn’t enough to make an entire genre or platform popular. Technology has played an important role. Smartphones and iPods have made it easier than ever to take audio with you and played via headphones while working out or even via bluetooth-connected cars during your commute. Then, factor in the low cost to produce a podcast (a microphone and some audio editing software on your computer) and how advertisers are jumping on board, making the audio platform profitable, it is clear why podcasts are popping up all over the place.
However, the Columbia Journalism Review suggests podcasting profitability and viability might be changing.
Mathew Ingram ask the question: Is the podcast bubble bursting?
Ingram explains the inquiry sprouts from a fertile bed of industry facts (as highlighted in the article):
- “Panoply, the podcasting unit set up by Slate magazine, recently laid off most of its staff and says it will now become just a distributor of podcasts rather than the creator of them—despite what appeared to be strong support for its existing podcasts.”
- “. . . BuzzFeed announced it was also laying off staff at its podcasting unit—the company said it will continue to do podcasts, but won’t have a dedicated team the way it used to, and will now mostly use freelancers rather than staff.”
- “Audible, the audio arm of retail giant Amazon, also laid off some staff from its podcasting unit recently.”
So the question is incredibly valid. However, Ingram also points to people leaving larger media companies to start their own podcast-focused enterprises.
When this story first hit the Internet, it was met with varying emotional responses. On one hand, people were dismissive. Others were outright hostile. Therefore, it is important to note that Ingram isn’t sounding the death knell on podcasts. He’s just suggesting the media industry’s podcasting landscape is changing.
The media industry is in a constant state of flux. Journalists and organizations have to be flexible and able to pivot when necessary. This is especially true since journalism is a business, despite the larger ideals driving it. Without money, journalism can’t happen, regardless of how important it is to our society.
Columbia Journalism Review is published by the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. It is a publication in the realm of academic journals.
According to its mission statement, the publication aims:
“to be the intellectual leader in the rapidly changing world of journalism. It is the most respected voice on press criticism, and it shapes the ideas that make media leaders and journalists smarter about their work. Through its fast-turn analysis and deep reporting, CJR is an essential venue not just for journalists, but also for the thousands of professionals in communications, technology, academia, and other fields reliant on solid media industry knowledge.”