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March 2012
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May 2012

RIP: New York Times Front Page Podcast

Usually, when management pulls the plug on a podcast (or for that matter, a radio show), they do so as the host is walking out of the studio after having recorded or broadcast the last one, so there is never  a chance to say goodbye to the audience, denying listeners closure. And because most podcasts aren't very important to management, they often thoughtlessly leave the links up on the website for months or years (this happened with all the podcasts I did at my last non-school employer). A few years back, management closed  the (Washington) Post Politics Podcast, a weekly podcast featuring Ed O'Keefe that was one of my favorites. And now, as of Friday March 30, the New York Times daily Front Page Podcast, another of my favorites, is no more. Voiced by James Baron, it was a ray of news sunshine in my day for years. I don't have time to read the Times on paper or electronically, but I loved knowing what was on its front page, since that front page sets the American news agenda not only for news, but also for features and enterprise reporting as well. In 1975-76, when I worked for United Press International, we moved a picture of the front page of the Times every night because our subscribers demanded it. Every editor in the country was anxious to know which articles the paper had chosen and how it had played them in terms of size and location; newshounds still want to know. In an unusual break from tradition, the Times gave Baron a few days warning, so he actually got to say goodbye to his audience, and offer them some closure. The explanation is that the Times  is reallocating its digital resources. Really? Seriously? We have reached the point where the Times can't afford to produce a simple daily podcast? Things are worse than I thought. I was a podcast producer. A podcast, even a good, professional one, is simply not that expensive, especially if it consists of one voice and some audio inserts. Dumb move, New York Times. Judging from a search I did, with the exception of the Washington Times (which does not produce its own podcast), there are no other front page podcasts from any major American newspapers (and the Washington Times barely qualifies as major). I haven't been this disappointed since the BBC stopped posting their hourly news summary. I'd be willing to pay for the Front Page Podcast, but the Times never even asked.

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