Why The Economist is launching a daily podcast

A publication with a long history in audio takes its next step

At The Economist we have been involved in digital-audio publishing for a long time. We launched our first podcasts in 2006—back in the heyday of the iPod, ours were the podcasts that Apple loaded onto the demo devices found in its stores—and we now publish five shows a week, plus various extras.

In 2007 we launched our audio edition, which consists of every story from each week’s print edition, read aloud by professional newsreaders. Recording it every Thursday, in time for publication that evening, involves running six or seven studios in parallel, and a lot of editing, because we have different readers doing the headlines and body of each article. (The audio edition is available to subscribers only, via app or download.)

In recent years we’ve also collaborated in audio joint ventures with Mic.com (“Special Relationship”), the BBC (“On Background”), WNYC (“Indivisible”) and Slate (“The Secret History of the Future”). In other words, despite being known primarily as a newsweekly in print, we are serious about audio, and have been for a long time. Now we are taking the next step: we are adding a daily news-analysis podcast to the mix.

It’s called “The Intelligence”.

We realise that we are joining a crowded field of daily podcasts from news organisations. But having taken the decision to launch our own about a year ago, we wanted to make sure it had the right formula, fitting into listeners’ lives while also capturing the essence of The Economist—global, analytical, playful and occasionally unexpected—in a daily podcast. After careful consideration, testing and piloting during 2018 we settled on a 20-minute, three-segment show, consisting of an opening news segment, a backgrounder/explainer/feature segment, and a jolly segment at the end that is often spun around an unusual fact or statistic (for example, what sales of mooncakes tell you about the state of Chinese politics and economics).

The result, we think, brings The Economist to life in audio every day, complementing the rest of our output for existing subscribers and acting as an introduction to our journalism for those not already familiar with it.

Jason Palmer

The Intelligence” will be published every weekday at 6am ET/11am GMT. Its host is Jason Palmer, who has previously worked on our science desk and as editor of Espresso, our morning-briefing email and app, and before that was a broadcast journalist at the BBC.

Jason is currently the host of “The week ahead”, a forward-looking news-analysis podcast we publish every Friday. This weekly podcast will be discontinued and replaced by “The Intelligence”, appearing every weekday.

Our existing weekly podcasts (“Money talks”, on business and finance; “Babbage” on science and technology; “The Economist Asks”, an interview show; and “Tasting Menu”, featuring highlights from our entire output) will continue in their current form.

The main area where we feel we can differentiate ourselves is the global reach of our network of correspondents in 22 offices around the world, from Mexico City to Madrid to Moscow to Mumbai. Of course we’ll cover American politics as well, but our aim is, as ever, to provide a global picture, digging behind the headlines to get to the stories beneath — and highlighting stories that aren’t making headlines, but should be. Our aim is that by listening to “The Intelligence”, you will get more than just the news — it will also help you stay on top of wider global trends. We hope you’ll tune in.

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