How to launch a daily news podcast — tips from The Guardian’s podcast producer Mythili Rao

Francesco Zaffarano
Hacks/Hackers London
6 min readMar 4, 2019

Plus: the Cairncross Review on the (sustainable) future of UK journalism; how a Talent Lab taught Quartz the importance of wellbeing in the newsroom.

Illustration by Francesco Zaffarano based on a Pexels.com photography and Today in Focus’ logo

Daily podcast is a risky business. Podcasts are on the rise, for sure, but producing a product every day that can win readers’ attention is not easy at all. In the last few years, the internet has taught publishers that to be successful, it’s not enough to just have a big name behind you.

That’s why we asked Mythili Rao, Lead Producer of The Guardian’s Today in Focus, to share some thoughts on her work at February’s Hacks/Hackers London event.

Why a daily podcast?

“The media industry as a whole doesn’t really know what is going to work to make journalism sustainable,” Mythili Rao said. Earlier this month, more than 2,000 people were laid off from BuzzFeed, Vice, Huffington Post, McClatchy, and Gannet. The worst part of the story is that many of those companies were seen until recently as the ones that had found a way to make digital journalism sustainable.

“But there are some bright spots where things are working. Podcasts are one of the bright spots in journalism now. It’s where people are turning to find their news,” Rao said.

Podcasts have been there for a very long time but they seem to be one of the biggest trends in media right now. According to the Pew Research Centre, podcast listenership in the US has increased by over 66% since 2013. Growing trends have been reported also in the UK by Ofcom.

There are many reasons why this has happened, not least Apple introducing its Podcast app with its iOS 6 software in 2012. Podcasts have also been experiencing a rise in popularity in the news industry. In 2017, The New York Times’ blockbuster podcast The Daily paved the way for daily…

Francesco Zaffarano
Hacks/Hackers London

Journo, nerd • Social media editor at The Telegraph • Former social and engagement at The Economist, la Repubblica, La Stampa • www.francescozaffarano.com