Links of note

Audio Articles are Helping News Outlets Gain Loyal Audiences

“In the U.S. alone, the number of people who listen to spoken-word audio jumped by one fifth in the last five years; it’s now a daily habit for 121 million people (music listening, meanwhile, has declined 5%). That’s still far below the number of people who read text online each day, but publishers offering narrated articles find that listeners value depth with audio journalism, and, as they do at Zetland, will listen for longer than they read.”

About 10 years ago I was immersed in the disruption of journalism and publishing. At the time, the tone was negative. Most people thought change was bad. Change meant jobs would be lost and long-established publications would close. While some of this was true, I withdrew from the space because all the bad news and doomsday stuff was toxic. But now, things are getting interesting. Yes, disruption rolled through and a lot of stuff was undermined. Yet, in its place we’re seeing a revitalization in print books, the embrace of streaming music, and the rise of podcasting as a viable form of content. This article looks at another one of these positive signals: people seem to like listening to long-form articles and publishers are experimenting with different techniques to serve that need. There’s no doom in this piece. Rather, it’s a clear-eyed analysis of something that has potential to serve audiences while improving engagement for publishers. (Sidenote: This article also introduced me to the term “prosody,” which covers “the way words are said, the rhythm of speech, the emphasis and adjustment of tone.”)