Tuesday, November 3, 2015

You can learn so much from listening to these fascinating podcasts

If you're an aspiring media student or a young journalist or a writer-in-the making, there are few better ways of learning the craft of non-fiction than by hearing from the experts how they did what they did. In this respect, the Longoform podcasts are an invaluable tool.

Here, just for starters, are 10 podcasts I have  listened to (some more than once) and enjoyed thoroughly:

1. Margaret Sullivan, Public Editor of The New York Times

2. Alexis Okeowo, a foreign correspondent, has written for The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine and Businessweek. Recently wrote about Boko Haram

3. Rukmini Callimachi, covers ISIS for The New York Times

4. Tim Ferriss, productivity expert and author of The Four-Hour Workweek and The Four-Hour Body

5. Cheryl Strayed, author of Wild, which was made into a movie starring Reese Witherspoon, and Tiny Beautiful Things

6. S.L. Price, senior editor at Sports Illustrated. He has written in his book, A Far Field, about his experience of covering the India-Pakistan cricket series

7. Carol Loomis, who retired last summer after covering business for 60 years at Fortune magazine. She continues to edit Warren Buffett's annual report

8. Ian Urbina, an investigative reporter for The New York Times, who recently published "The Outlaw Ocean," a four-part series on crime in international waters

9. Stephen J. Dubner is the co-author, with Steven D. Levitt, of Freakonomics. Their latest book, When to Rob a Bank, came out in May

10. Ashlee Vance covers technology for Bloomberg Businessweek and is the author of Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future 

What can we learn from listening to these podcasts?

  • What it means to be a journalist/writer/reporter/editor/author
  • How to deal with the issues that come up in the course of work
  • How to conduct interviews
  • How to ask probing questions, to listen to the answers and ask follow-up questions
  • How to articulate your thoughts
  • What you have to do to succeed in your chosen field
As of the time of writing, there were 164 podcasts in the Longform archive. So after you are done listening to the 10 listed above, go ahead and wade right in.

UPDATE (November 5, 2015): To understand better the craft of journalistic interviewing, listen to this podcast with the New York Times reporter Sarah Maslin Nir, whose expose of worker exploitation in New York's nail salons was one of the newspaper's biggest stories in recent times. Maslin Nir worked for 13 months over her story, which was then published in two parts earlier this year. You can read the stories here:

And you can listen to the podcast interview with Maslin Nir here: #142.

UPDATE (November 6, 2015): I have just finished listening to an eye-opening interview with Anand Gopal, who gave up a planned career in physics to go to Afghanistan to write about the situation there. Why Gopal did it and, perhaps more compelling for aspiring journalists, how he did it composes the bulk of his conversation with Aaron Lammer of Longform Podcasts. Listen to the podcast here: #125.

PS: I have aready ordered the book Anand Gopal wrote about his experiences in Afghanistan: No Good Men among the Living.
  • Here you can read an interview with Aaron Lammer and learn how he and his partner Max Linsky went about building the highly popular site: The Art of Podcasting.

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