Are podcasts an intellectual wasteland?

Grant McCracken
Oct 29, 2018 · 2 min read
This is from the Wikipedia entry for Third Wave Feminism (I can’t find an attribution for the image on this page or the one for Ms. Walker.)

I was listening to one of my favorite podcasts the other day, and was shocked to hear the guests talk about their clothing brand as if it were very special and blindingly original.

They insisted that their brand spoke to young women with a feminism message of empowerment. I kept waiting for the host to gently point out that there were a couple of precedents here.

You know, like at least 100 years of suffragette feminism, Gloria Steinem, and Rebecca Walker (pictured), to say nothing of the work of Dove and the brilliant “Throw Like a Girl” videos by Lauren Greenfield for Always. Just for starters.

But no. He sat by while his guests sang their own praises. The best he could muster were obliging prompts on the order of “so tell me, would you say you were totally awesome or merely utterly fantastic?”

The host is from the creative world, so he’s not trained as a journalist. And podcasts are, as we know, a planet still forming.

More’s the pity.

Edison Research found that 48 million people listened to podcasts last year. The number grows and grows. This universe is expanding. Expanding but a little witless. Agreeable but a little toothless.

I had a look and discovered the Society of Professional Journalism. Their code of ethics asks that members adhere to four principals:

1. Seek Truth and Report It.

2. Minimize Harm.

3. Act Independently.

4. Be Accountable and Transparent.

In the podcast world, this means cut out the shameless glad handing and ask real questions in the pursuit of real answers. Do not suffer fools.

Grant McCracken

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I'm an anthropologist & author of Chief Culture Officer. You can reach me at grant27@gmail.com.