Listening to the World: Eight Podcasts to Digest International News
by: The Beat Asia
December 15, 2022
For as long as they’ve been around, podcasts have been a great platform for news. News podcasts are essentially recorded radio programs, and every show has a repository of past recordings that you can play on your own time (and at your own speed, too). It is great if you have a nose for news, and there are so many options that you can handpick your shows.
Traditional news reporting, however, can be cut and dry. It is the same story in podcasts as in television news reporting--both tend to be a get-your-facts-and-go situation. This is not even including the part that there is so much news to catch up on.
Having said that, there is no denying that knowing what’s going on around you is essential. It allows you to participate in the wider world and, getting down to the brass tacks of news, informs you of things that could affect your life. One of the better things of getting your news from podcasts, a low-effort form of media, you can listen to episodes while doing other things. You can listen to the news while taking a shower, eating breakfast, on your commute or while driving to work.
To help you get started, here are eight podcasts that comb through and explain the context of the most prominent issues today without being longwinded:
1. ‘The Bugle'
"The Bugle" has been going on for 17 years, which means it was there when the whole podcast movement start. John Oliver, of “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver,” is one of the founding members of this podcast. That should give you an idea on how they go about this show. It’s a trans-international satirical news podcast that pokes fun at the ever-more serious world of international news. It is hard not to laugh when a host is fixated on something or someone famous, and goes about relating it to everything out there.
But, it is a news podcast after all and a great one at that. It just so happens to be great in making people laugh, too.
2. ‘Vibe Check’
The headline of this show are the hosts, Sam Sanders, Saeed Jones, and Zach Stafford. They go through the context of the most important news of the past week, and how those news affected their experiences. It is a new podcast, having only started in August, but it is always a hit whenever they release an episode. Truly, there is no boring moment in each release, and you will never look at a Snickers bar the same way.
As the show’s description says, “Vibe Check is your favorite group chat come to life.” Sign us up.
3. ‘Opening Arguments’
A show dedicated to showing what’s technically and legally correct, “Opening Arguments” is for people who want to know the legality of the claims and actions of public figures. The show focuses on U.S. news that often have international ripple effects. Anchored by a comedian and a lawyer, there are laughs and legalese to engage even the most casual listener.
4. ‘Pod Save the World’
“Pod Save the World” is the by-diplomats-but-for-the-people kind of podcast that lets you in the inner workings of the biggest news in the world. Its hosts, former U.S. national security members, are not afraid of cutting through the cheese. They analyze decisions made by the biggest decision makers, and the news that followed such movements. In short, the show is run by people who used to deal with diplomats but can’t stand the grey area where nothing makes sense until something happens.
5. The Guardian’s ‘Weekend’
More op-ed than an entertaining news show, The Guardian’s “Weekend” is a complete break from plain news. You will often hear the paper’s famous columnists, particularly Marina Hyde, dissect the most egregious and enamored news of the week. Despite all that, this podcast is made for easy listening and weekend brunches when you have time to unhurriedly spread the jam on your toast.
6. ‘The Gray Area’
“We don’t pretend to have the answers, but we do offer a space for real dialogue.” This is on the banner of “The Gray Area,” where the show’s host and guests conduct philosophical discussions about the current state of the world. By philosophical, we mean that the speakers on the show don’t try to solve any problem. Rather, they discuss the ideas within the main idea or try to get to the core of phenomena like the “end” of social media or the popular billionaire pastime of prepping.
7. ‘What a Day’
“What a Day” is a podcast with formulaic delivery: 20-plus minutes, released every morning (U.S. time), and tackles the day’s biggest news. The hosts don’t cover everything, but you’d be surprised at how much they can cram in at most a quarter of an hour. If an avalanche of news is not your cup of tea, this show is the amply sized news podcast for you.
8. ‘Rough Translation’
At the best of times, “Rough Translation” is like Wes Anderson’s “The French Dispatch.” It is not a dissection of international news. It is more about the local version of the most talked about piece of news. One relevant example is the episode where a small town in the U.S. is getting exclusives from a Ukrainian resident, but the readers are not exactly getting frontline dispatches. The special episodes about work also came at an opportune time, where the show focused on work tales from all over the world when quiet quitting was all over the airwaves.
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