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Podcasting for Newspapers

written by Stefaan Lesage on 06/07/2009

I’m sure it would be hard to convince the newspaper industry to drop their beloved Printed Media. Instead I want to talk about how they could use New Media and even the technology behind podcasting for their own purpose.


We all know the newspaper industry is facing some problems. In this article we will be highlighting some of these issues and show how the technology behind podcasting could actually help to solve some of those problems


Issues with todays newspapers and how the technology behind podcasting could solve them.

Printed Newspapers offer Yesterday’s News

One of the major issues with newspapers is that they are in fact Yesterday’s News. In some cases a special edition of a newspaper is released to get on top of some major breaking news. Most of the time though todays news will only be published tomorrow. If the reader wants todays news, he has to resort to online media, blogs, twitter, radio, TV or wait another day and read it in tomorrows newspaper.

The technology behind podcasting is actually a simple RSS feed which can be downloaded and viewed with a wide range of applications. In case of a major event or breaking news simply adding a new entry to the RSS feed should do the trick. When the reader launches his Newspaper application, the RSS feed will be refreshed, new content will get downloaded automatically and the user can view the new content in his Newspaper application. No need to wait another day, news could get delivered in real time !

Newspapers are created for a wide audience

Creating a separate newspaper for each targeted group of readers would be quite expensive. Currently there are national newspapers and a few newspapers bringing regional news. Publishing an in-depth article for each news item of today would create gigantic newspapers, so articles are sometimes kept short in order to fit more into a single edition of a newspaper.

Some readers might not be interested in Sports, others might not be interested in political news, ... but still everyone gets the same newspaper. In those cases, the reader actually pays for content he has no interest in !

A possible solution would be to offer a way for a reader to subscribe to specific categories. For example a user could susbscribe to political news, national news, regional news but not to sports / financial news. This would create his own personalised Newspaper RSS / Podcast feed and only download the content he is interested in. Since now you know what the reader is interested in, you could also use that information to generate targetted advertising.

Newspapers are unidirectional

In written newspapers there is no way the user can give feedback, except for writing a letter and hoping that it might get published.

In my opinion, newspapers should allow the user to send feedback, maybe even add additional information on a given article, who knows even allow them to submit possible articles ! For example last week something was wrong in the industrial area a few miles from our house. Police was driving around in a car telling everyone to keep the windows and doors closed. I wanted to know what was wrong, and checked online news sites, but there was nothing there.

I sent out a tweet informing others about it, and had to leave for work. I think it took another hour before it was mentioned on the radio. I have no idea if it actually made it into the (local) newspapers. If newspapers had picked up my tweet, they could have added the news to their Newspaper Podcast Feed, and I could have added more information to it.

Newspapers only offer written text and pictures

At least, printed newspaper does ! Newspapers now also have an online presence where they provide other forms of media like audio and video as well. This causes the printed newspaper to have less appeal than online versions.

The technology behind podcasting isn’t limited to just audio, each item in the feed can have an enclosure which could actually be any type of media ranging from written text, audio interviews, video and a lot more.

Online Newspapers require you to go out and fetch the content yourself

Yes, newspapers have made the move to the internet. A lot of newspapers now have a website too where they make the news available in many different formats. In most cases this still requires you to search the content you want to read and read it on their website. Most newspapers already offer an RSS feed to which the reader can subscribe. But these feeds don’t contain the full text of the article, and more specifically they don’t have the advertising embedded in them neither.

Whenever the reader finds something interesting in the RSS feed, he is still required to go to the webpage to read more, and actually view the advertisements.

The podcasting technology is actually quite similar to traditional newspapers. A reader subscribes to a Newspaper Podcasting feed. Each time a new entry is found in the feed, the reader can decide to download the content and read, listen or watch it whenever he wants and wherever he wants. The content could get downloaded to a computer, portable device, phone, but even to traditional set-top boxes, game consoles, MP3 players, ...

How I see the Newspaper of the future

The eNewsPaper I have in mind would resemble Harry Potter’s Newspaper

For those who have seen any of the Harry Potter movies and remember the newspapers shown in there, well THAT is exactly how the newspaper of the future might look like, with the only exception that it wouldn’t be on paper but in some digital format.

If we combine a few of the things I mentioned before, we could actually develop a newspaper application which uses the technology behind podcasting. It would allow a user to subscribe to some major news like : Breaking News, Sports, Financial News, Regional News, Popular News, ... Just like blogs each news item could then be added to one or more categories.

The eNewsPaper application should allow the user to indicate which content he wants. Does he want everything the newspaper offers, or does he want to choose some specific categories. Based on his interests there could also be a ‘Suggested Readings’ for those news items which didn’t fit in his chosen categories, but might also interest him. Based on his profile, some very targeted advertising could be generated as well. This information should allow the newspapers to build a specific eNewsPaper Podcast Feed which has the content the user is interested in.

The user should be able to use the eNewsPaper application on as many devices as possible, wether that is his computer, mobile phone, media player, iPod, gaming console or even the set-top box connected to his TV. Whenever he starts the application his eNewsPaper Podcast Feed gets refreshed, showing him the headlines of those items matching his criteria. The user should be able to have a look through that information, filter it, ... and indicate if he wants to download the content immediately or on request.

Whenever the user decides what item he wants to view, the system should check if the content (found in the Enclosure of the Podcast Feed) was already downloaded to his device. If it wasn’t downloaded already, it should get downloaded in the background (through the local network, a WiFi, or even over the Cellular Phone network).

Since the technology behind podcasting isn’t limited to just audio, the content could be just about anything. It could be some written text, a PDF, an audio interview, a movie file, ... the newspapers could even create their own format for it.

Whenever the user views an item, he should have the possibility to give feedback, add comments or maybe send in additional information, pictures, video’s, audio files ...

What about business models ?


In it’s current form most of the costs are actually covered by advertising. Using the digital eNewsPaper you could actually have a similar but better system. Since all advertising is now digital, it should be perfectly possible to know how many sales or leads were generated using the advertising in our eNewsPaper.

For traditional printed newspaper this is actually a bit harder. You know how many times an advertisement was printed, but how do you measure how many times a reader has actually seen the advertisement, or how many sales and leads were generated due to an advertisement in the News Paper. It is possible, but I think the metrics are harder compared to a digital newspaper where you can actually track how many users clicked some advertisement.

Since you also collected some information on what is interesting to every individual reader, you could actually use that information to generate some very targeted advertising. If you know one user is interested in information regarding cars and car sales, you might be better of showing him a car add instead of an add for some kind of dishwasher. One user could see and add for a car in one spot, while another user might see and add for something else.

A completely different approach to the traditional printed newspaper, where everyone gets the same adds ! I think this for of targeted advertising might even generate more revenue !

Deals with Service Providers like the Cellular Phone Networks

Our eNewsPaper application should be able to download the content through a LAN, WIFI but also using a Mobile Phone. Maybe there are some opportunities to negotiate a deal with mobile phone carriers. Your application might increase their revenue, so why shouldn’t the newspapers get a share of that revenue ?


When I talk to people about podcasting, they always seem to think that it is just a technique to share music and audio with other users, but the technology behind podcasting isn't limited to just audio !

In fact, the system or technology used for podcasting can be used to distribute any kind of content wether it is audio, video, text or even a proprietary format. Newspapers could easily adopt the technology and use it to their own benefit.

We probably didn’t convince all the newspaper agencys in the world to start using the podcasting technology for the newspaper of the future, but at least we hope this article made a few of them think about how they can use it to their own advantage.


  • 1


    your site very good

    written by said elmasry on 18/07/2009
  • 2

    thank you good information

    written by teknoloji on 30/10/2009
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