Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.


Been asking around the newsroom of the International Herald Tribune as to why we don't have a podcast of our best story of the day.

Problem: We don't have the in-house expertise right now to do podcast editing, but we came up with the concept of dial-in podcasting.

Business idea: Our far-flung reporters - and others eager for high quality podcasts - would call in their stories from the field (like we used to do to the recording room) to a high quality editing service that would splice together the best version and put a standard intro on the start and finish of each podcast. The podcast would then be automatically posted on our website. (Sounds ripe for an enterprising outsourcer!)

Any ideas?


Publishers don't like:

1. Projects with high production costs (they always costs more than you think)
2. Projects with no income (they always makes less than you think)

Like most nice ideas, it isn't really very practical. The market isn't large enough to make it worthwhile to pay for the editing and reporters' time. I'm sure they are really happy with your suggestions to do extra work for free :)

Being more helpful, how about text-to-speech software that would automatically convert the top story from the website. This would work especially well with science stories, where you could say that they are being read by your guest "podcaster", Stephen Hawking.

Mark: I don't understand. This is something that would be offered to both publishers and the general public. Presumably there are a few people and publications out there who would want a professionally edited podcasts.

The text to speech would work for some things, but that would not have the same impact as the voice of the reporter podcasting his/her story from Bagdhad or the riots of Paris.

Piece of cake I would have thought, especially if the roving journos have access to Skype and broadband, where the voice quality will be better than the PSTN and especially better than cellular. I haven't ever tested the duration, but assume you could set up a Skype In number with voicemail and they could all read their stories to the mailbox. Then someone could simply grab the voicemails (something like Audio Hijack Pro would work), maybe do a little tightening and cleanup and drop the resulting file into a template with a standard intro and outro. I would think it is the sort off job that an intern-level person with some training could easily do. Then an editor-type approves and the completed file is sent off to the RSS feed. And if the in-house thing really doesn't appeal, the same process could apply with an outsourcer. But Mark is right - it will cost resources of some kind but that's going to be the price of the IHT and everyone else remaining accessible to the new media audience (I still read the print edition here in Paris every day, btw.)

Yes, of course it will cost money - something no company wants to part with - but as you say, it strikes me as something relatively simple to set up.

A publisher or company would be much more willing to buy from an outsource company - which is the business I am inviting someone to set up!

It could be called propodcast or something like that.

Thomas: I get it now: The idea is to have an external agency (not IHT) where journalists record stories by phone, which are stitched together and broadcast by podcast.

The main issue is still who will pay for it? Are any podcasts making money, or even have a hope of making money, now?

I don't think it is always necessary for mainstream media such as the IHT to pay for something simply to appear as though it is part of the "new media". Blogs are text, so their integration with text-based media is easy. I imagine podcasts would be more suited to radio stations, which already have the resources, advertisers and knowledge to make podcast-as-a-business work.


Sorry, perhaps my explanation was not so clear.

Yes, radio is very well adapted to the podcasting medium, but I think - perhaps overly optimistically - that we could present our newspaper in the different medium.

Not looking for a business model on the IHT side. I am sure that will follow at some point. (Hope it does, anyways!)

Use WebPod Studio and it's skype recording ability, no phonebills, and you can interview just about anyone on the globe

Thomas I think you are absoultely correct, and realistic rather than optimistic. I have friends who consult on strategy to the two leading newspaper publishers in Australia. When talking with them about their work, I suggested that the question to ask, if one were a newspaper proprietor, is 'what does a newspaper look like without a printing press?' And it appears as though part of the answer will include e.g. portable digital media formats like podcasting of audio and video as well as blogging to fixed and mobile terminals. You can listen to a podcast whilst driving much more safely than you can read a newspaper, after all.

I think what's really interesting about convergence is that the old forms of distribution and the organisations which support them are increasingly becoming blurred, and the nomenclature irrelevant. i.e. I don't think the assumption that radio people will necessarily be better at podcasting is true. It is true that they have an edge on understanding audio production for 30 second sound bites between commercials, but in podcasting that's not relevant. Adam Curry observes that maybe the ideal length for a podcast is around 40 minutes, which is how long on average someone might spend on a treadmill or during a commute. In depth reporting, often the métier of print journos, may be much better suited to longer form audio documentaries than sound bite digests.

I think what is going to matter is that journalists who who know how to tell stories, with access to easy-to-use production and distribution tools, will tell stories in a variety of formats and the institutions for which they toil similarly will be transformed.

See 888-2CONFESS. Calls to that number go to podcast after an edit.

You can do this with a VoiceXML application using Skype, TellMe Studio or Voxio. It is not difficult.

Joi we thought about this several months ago, it is something we will be releasing in the next couple of weeks on our site. Can't talk about the details of what were doing with recorded wav file before it becomes a MP3 but I will say the process will be automated and very high quality.

Hi Joi,
That's the create tool on Odeo.. granted it's in beta now, and so it's not open yet. But it works incredibly well. Like magic. They should ask for a beta account to test it, and see if it works well enough for them, with a computer online, or if they can call in to record the podcast.


Oh, so THAT's the thing we've been doing for almost two years now. And in January 06 in Japan.

I thought it sounded familiar. Heh.

Snark aside, have 'em call me. News teams already use us for that. KHOU in Houston stepped up to Katrina. And others like to climb mountains with Satellite phones.


Dear Thomas,

From an ordinary user perspective.

This is a great idea. Was recently given an ipod and have been searching for good quality podcasts.

BBC correspondents is currently my favourite. Unfortunately it only comes once a week.

I would love to be able to obtain daily podcasts from correspondents in various world regions from the IHT.

Having recently moved back to North America from Europe I find myself craving actual news, as opposed to interviews with Larry King interspersed with commercials.

I would certainly be willing to pay for a service that provides raw field reporting in a format I can listen to at my leisure rather than having to adjust my schedule to access it.

Could you take this a step further and allow freelancers to file podcasts for your review? Information might be harder to verify but you could naturally note this in the recording.

The crux is this:

I often feel caught between wanting audio/video footage that hasn't passed through censors and not having the time to track it down on various obscure portions of the net. Could a service like yours help become the bridge for folks like me? The credible/raw/realtime/listen at leisure consumer?

I think it is a great idea. As a matter of fact, I am lloking for someone to do some editing for me. I want to do some business podcasts and need someone to edit them on an hourly basis. If anyone wants to do it please contact me.