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Subject: AEJ 06 FilakV RTVJ Shovelcasting, talk radio and the weather: A content analysis of news podcasts
From: Elliott Parker <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:AEJMC Conference Papers <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Tue, 31 Oct 2006 18:54:07 -0500

text/plain (666 lines)

This paper was presented at the Association for Education in Journalism and
Mass Communication in San Francisco August 2006.
        I am not the author. If you have questions about this paper, 
please contact the author directly.
	If you have questions about the archives, email rakyat [ at ] For an explanation of the subject line, send email to
[log in to unmask] with just the four words, "get help info aejmc," in the
body (drop the "").

(Oct 2006)
Thank you.
Elliott Parker

Shovelcasting, talk radio and the weather:
       A content analysis of news podcasts

       Vincent F. Filak, Ph.D.
       Assistant Professor
       Department of Journalism
       Ball State University
       Muncie, IN 47306
       (765) 285-8218
       [log in to unmask]

       Presented in the Radio-Television Journalism Division of the 
Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication annual 
       August 2006. San Francisco, California.

       A two-tier content analysis of a collection of news podcasts 
revealed that these casts can be primarily divided into several radio 
news subgenres: talk, all news/headlines, sports and weather. 
Furthermore, the majority of these casts contain repurposed material 
that has been placed in this new medium without considering the 
medium's benefits or limitations. While both newspapers and 
television stations rely heavily on repurposing, television news is 
significantly more likely to shovelcast than is print. The second 
tier of this analysis contains statistical examinations of writing 
style, all of which indicate that both print and broadcast news 
operations are relying heavily on their medium-based roots while 
podcasting. Additional descriptive analysis is added to augment and 
support all findings.

Shovelcasting, talk radio and the weather:
       A content analysis of news podcasts1

       At the advent of the web, newspapers and television stations 
grappled with the issue of how best to use the new medium. As 
websites quickly sprang up at media outlets throughout the country in 
the mid-1990s, the rush to have a website produced much of what 
became known as "shovelware" – content created for another medium and 
reproduced verbatim on the web (Stovall, 2004).
       Some media experts immediately cried foul, arguing that media 
managers were viewing the web as an extension of old media, as 
opposed to a new communication tool (Pryor, 1999). Others argued that 
readers who seek news through the web are looking for a much fuller 
experience than those who rely solely on traditional media, and thus 
media managers should look for ways to meet those needs (Lieb, 2001).
       A number of organizations heard these calls for change and 
began looking for ways to move beyond shovelware (Gilbert & Kerwin, 
1999). By the turn of the millennium, the web presence of many media 
organizations had gone from a marginal web commitment to the point 
where web journalists began working hand-in-hand with the news desks 
to provide information that was not available anywhere else (McCoy, 2004).
       In a review of news websites, Greer and Mensing (2004) stated 
that in the period from 1997 to 2003, the majority of newspapers had 
moved from rarely updated, bare-bones websites to sites that were 
frequently updated and filled with local and national news. In 
addition, news websites were offering more of everything, adding 
audio and video elements as well as increasing the number of 
interactive opportunities. In this time period, "shovelware" became 
less prevalent and "online journalism" had emerged as a unique media 
form (Bardoel, 2002).
       As was the case with the emergence of the web, the media is 
again faced with a rapidly expanding new platform: podcasting. More 
than 15,000 podcasts are available for downloading on topics that 
range from opera to Harry Potter (Wasserman, 2005) and more than 15 
million people have subscribed to at least one podcast (Anderson, 
2005). That number is projected to climb as high as 55 million by 
2010 (Fox & Albro, 2005).
       Just as media outlets rushed to establish a presence on the 
web, they are now seeking to stake their claims in podland (McBride & 
Wingfield, 2005). The news area of iTunes' podcast collection has 
climbed to more than 2,000 podcasts by early 2006. The Washington 
Post, the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal each have 
multiple podcast feeds, as do ABC, CBS and NBC and their affiliates. 
However, the question remains: how has the podcasting realm defined 
news and have media outlets returned to their shoveling ways?
       This study seeks to examine news podcasts from both a 
statistical and descriptive approach in an attempt to map out the 
podcast landscape. Furthermore, this study will assess whether 
professional media outlets are providing podcast listeners with new 
content germane to the format or repurposed content with little 
regard for the strengths and weakness of the medium. The findings in 
this study will provide an initial roadmap of "podland." Furthermore, 
if podcasts are primarily comprised of shoveled material and 
repurposed content, as was the case with early news websites, this 
work could help establish a pattern of how the media approaches a new 
platform for information dissemination.

       Literature Review
       The term podcast derives its name from Apple's MP3 player, the 
iPod and refers to an Internet radio file that listeners can download 
to a computer and transfer to an MP3 player (Bullis, 2005). 
Individuals can download specific files or request a subscription, 
which will allow the computer to download each new installment of the 
cast as it becomes available (Wasserman, 2005).
       Although streamed Internet radio has been commonplace for 
almost a decade, the first podcasts were not created until 2004 
(Acohido, 2005). Former MTV video-jockey Adam Curry, known now as the 
"podfather," helped develop the technology that allowed individuals 
to create their own shows (Anderson, 2005).  That, coupled with the 
explosion of the iPod market has fueled the market for these 
digital-file radio shows.
       Podcasts combine the self-expressiveness of blogs, the 
portability of MP3 files and the timeshifting capabilities of TiVo 
(Anderson, 2005). They also fall in line with the current citizen 
journalist movement (Gilmore, 2005), in that for a relatively small 
amount of money, an individual can create and mass-distribute a 
podcast. Thus, many podcasts are created by amateurs who want to have 
their views heard in ways previously only available to large media 
outlets (Deggans, 2005). As a result, much of what is currently 
shelved under the "news" heading of the podcast libraries, Gil 
Asakawa of notes, is less like a professional newscast 
and more like "two stoners yakking at each other in a basement" 
(Potter, 2006).
       Despite the explosion of the podcasting craze, it remains a 
relatively young and untapped market. Rishad Tobaccowala, the head 
innovation offer at Publicis Groupe Media in Chicago, drew the 
parallel between where podcasting is now and where the internet was 
in 1994: full of promise and full of challenges with no clear path as 
to where things will go next (Anderson, 2005). According to research 
firm Ipsos Insight, only 28 percent of web users know what a podcast 
is and only 2 percent had listened to one. David Schatsky of Jupiter 
Marketing has argued that the podcasting phenomenon is overhyped, 
noting that only 7 percent of web users download podcasts one a month 
or more. Fine (2005) noted that "podcasting is the teenage clique of 
media. Small enough that its pioneers refer to one another by first 
names only, young enough that it's unclear which media model fits it 
and brazen enough to believe it can figure it all out by itself." (p.2)
       Still, corporations see the potential for this new platform 
and are trying to find ways to use it to their advantage (Garrity, 
Butler & Bruno, 2005). For example, Dixie paper products entered into 
a contract with the producers of Mommycast that has been valued at 
"north of six figures" in hopes of reaching "contemporary moms" in a 
cutting-edge way. Rather than sponsoring a cast, appliance-giant 
Whirlpool has created its own podcast, which discusses family issues, 
such as parenting, marriage and child-rearing (Anderson, 
2005).  General Motors has been creating podcasts that update 
consumers on product developments while IBM has used them to inform 
listeners about advances the company is making technologically (Wahl, 
2005). In a more traditional move, organizations such as NPR, Clear 
Channel and Pod2Mobile have all worked to find ways to incorporate 
advertising into podcasts (Bruno & Martens, 2006). Although some have 
called the podcasting realm the "Wild West" of media (Klaassen & 
Taylor, 2006), the unpredictability of this new frontier has not 
scared off financial prospectors. Revenue related to podcasting is 
expected to reach $80 million this year, $150 million by 2008 and 
then nearly double again by 2010 (Anderson, 2006).
       Mainstream media outfits have also joined the podcasting 
revolution. Chicago Sun-Times movie critics Roger Ebert and Richard 
Roeper have repurposed their successful television show, Ebert and 
Roeper at the Movies into a podcast. Business Week magazine used its 
first podcast to discuss the phenomenon of podcasting (Baker, 2005). 
National Public Radio and its regional affiliates currently produce 
more than 200 podcasts, which include both repurposed and original 
content (Palser, 2006). Radio Disney is pushing to reach the 
6-to-14-year-old market through a series of podcasts that are 
expected to be released in June (Bannan, 2006). ABC's Nightline and 
Good Morning, America have podcast versions while local stations such 
as WCPO in Cincinnati and WBBM in Chicago are also making newscasts 
available for downloading (Potter, 2006). In addition, the newspaper 
industry, which is often thought of as close-minded and unwilling to 
take risks, has embraced the concept of podcasting (Lieberman, 2006). 
The Arizona Republic has put forth a variety of podcasts as part of 
its website. The Naples Daily News offers not only 
podcasts, but also content over cellular phones and PlayStation 
gaming systems. The Denver Post, Philidelphia Daily News and Daily 
Journal in Kankakee County, Illinois are just a few of the other 
newspapers that have begun podcasting (Potter, 2006).
       In spite of some innovative approaches and some forward 
thinking, much of the mainstream media appears to be engaging in 
shovelcasting. Podcasts from traditional media outlets often are 
repurposed snippets from morning talk shows or radio broadcasts that 
have been re-cut into podcast-friendly chunks (Green, 2005). Palser 
(2006) argues that if news organizations are to find a permanent 
place for podcasting in their newsrooms, they will need to look 
beyond the technology and understand how individuals are using the 
content. Otherwise, she warns, the podcasts will be as "clumsy and 
inauthentic as the so-called newsroom blogs that are really nothing 
more than editorials or news updates."
       In sum, the podcasting realm is still being defined and 
refined, with amateurs and media corporations working to find the 
best ways to provide content of interest to an eager audience that is 
utilizing a new platform. "Podland," especially the news section, 
remains uncharted and no research has been done to this point to help 
map out this phenomenon. Although some podcasters are using this 
platform to test new ways of communicating, some authors have noted 
that the traditional media has continued its trend of shoveling 
content from their old platforms onto the new ones.
       With this background on podcasts, we propose the following 
research questions:
       RQ1: What are the predominant formats of news podcasts?
       RQ2: How much of the content is clearly new as opposed to repurposed?

       In addition, we wanted to more succinctly examine whether 
television stations and newspapers are relying on their traditional 
methods of news production, as opposed to seeking out opportunities 
to utilize the strengths of podcasts. We decided to examine only 
newspapers and television stations because they are the most dominant 
forms of news media. Furthermore, unlike radio, they would be forced 
to change their approach to news in order to thrive on the podcasting 
platform. Thus, we decided to textually examine television news and 
newspaper podcasts for medium-based differences. Nowhere is it more 
evident that newspapers and television stations differ than in their 
approach to writing (Papper, 2005). Television news relies on its 
strengths of immediacy, using present-tense verbs to relay 
information. It uses short sentences that are easier to process and 
uses specific words in specific places to help the viewer follow the 
story more easily. Newspapers rely on longer and more complex 
sentences, as they can provide more depth in a story than television 
news can. While television news is written to be heard, newspaper 
stories are written to be processed visually, as the medium allows 
the readers to go back and reread something they might have missed 
the first time. Even in innovation, journalists at these media 
outlets are likely to remain tied to their medium-based norms.
       Thus, we propose the following hypotheses:
H1: Podcasts created by television stations will use shorter 
sentences than those created by newspapers.

H2: Podcasts created by television stations will use more 
present-tense verbs than past tense verbs in their attributions when 
compared to podcasts created by newspapers.

H3: Podcasts created by television stations will place attributions 
at the front end of their sentences more often than those created by 

       A two-part content analysis was performed to examine the 
current landscape of news podcasting. The first stage involved a full 
examination a large cross-section of podcasts while the second took a 
specific look at what television stations and newspapers were doing 
in regard to podcasting.
       All the podcasts that are listed under the "news" genre were 
accessed through iTunes on March 1, 2006 and were coded for format as 
well as for their use of new or repurposed material. Given the 
distinction that users are beginning to draw between podcasts (audio 
only) and vodcasts (video and audio), we decided to exclude those 
casts that contained video components.
       Categories for format were drawn from the traditional 
categories of radio news: talk, headline/all news, sports and weather 
(Paneth, 1983). A "non-U.S." category was added to account for the 
large number of casts that came from other countries. As many of 
these casts were in foreign languages, coding them was prohibitive. 
Furthermore, countries vary on their views regarding news, media 
formatting and other similar issues making cross-cultural comparisons invalid.
       Coders listened to the most recently uploaded file for each 
podcast, and placed it in one of the previously noted categories, 
based on the category's definitions. The talk category was defined as 
having one or more individuals discussing topical issues either with 
or without a guest. The headline/all news format was defined as the 
presentation of news stories by an announcer or announcers in a style 
indicative of a one-way conduit of information. The cast could 
consist of one or multiple stories each with the purpose of conveying 
factual information. Sports radio was defined in the same way as talk 
radio, but with the discussion primarily devoted to sporting events 
or happenings. Weather casts consisted of the reporting of the 
current or future climatilogical conditions of a given city or state. 
Podcasts that did not fit into one of these categories were coded in 
the "other" category.
       The podcasts were also coded in one of three categories in 
regard to the type of material they contained: new, repurposed or 
unknown. A podcast was coded in the "new" category if it contained 
material that was germane to the cast and not available elsewhere 
either verbatim or with very few changes. News organizations that 
incorporated in-depth interviews with reporters regarding their 
stories were coded here as were talk shows that were not broadcast 
elsewhere. Internet radio shows were also coded here, as the material 
created for these shows was meant for computer-based consumption. 
Podcasts that contained primarily material that had been created for 
another medium were coded as repurposed. These casts included 
newspaper podcasts that consisted of a reading of the day's headlines 
or a columnist voicing her column or a reading of the day's headlines 
with no additional material. They also included radio and television 
news programs that had been reformatted for a podcast. In cases where 
it was unclear whether the material was new or repurposed, coders 
searched the podcaster's website for the podcast's source material. 
If it was still unclear, the podcast was coded in the "unknown" category.
       The second portion of the study textually analyzed a series of 
podcasts from print and television news operations to examine whether 
they had embraced the new medium or had simply used their traditional 
thought process in regard to news when creating the podcasts. We 
subscribed to a series of podcasts that had been created by 
television news networks and newspapers, gathering casts from the 
first of the year through the second week of March. The frequency of 
the casts varied greatly ranging from less than once per week to 
multiple times per day, thus making a traditional sampling approach 
impossible. Thus, we employed a variation on the two composite week 
approach, first randomly selecting seven newspapers and seven 
television stations for analysis and then randomly selecting two 
podcasts from each media outlet for textual analysis. The TV podcasts 
WXLY-TV. The newspaper podcasts came from the Washington Post, the 
New York Times, The Daily Journal (Kankakee, Ill.), the Roanoke 
Times, the Los Angeles Times, East Bay Newspapers and the Naples Daily News.
       Papper (2005) outlined several key differences between writing 
for print and writing for broadcast, which we hoped to measure here 
to assess whether the media outlets were accounting for limitations 
of their new media. Given that our knowledge of how each outlet 
approached the podcast is limited to our ability to examine only the 
output, we chose the following rules of broadcast for coding: 
attribution before statement, keep sentences short and use present 
tense in attributions. While other rules based on script writing 
(i.e. the use of pronouncers) would have had additional merit, it was 
impossible for us to attain this material.
       We had the 28 podcasts in our sample transcribed and coded for 
the placement of attributions (beginning, middle or end of the 
sentence) and the use of present tense in attribution verbs (said vs. 
says). Attribution verbs included the traditional said and says 
(Brooks et al., 2002) but also included verbs that demonstrated an 
attempt to attribute the information to a source (e.g. "He admitted 
again today…").
       In addition, we data analyzed the total number of words and 
the total number of sentences in each podcast. Word counts were 
divided by sentence counts and then compared between the media.
       Intercoder reliability for format (.71), material (.62), 
attribution placement (1.0) and present tense attribution verbs (.80) 
was computed using a Cohen's Kappa. All met with an acceptable level 
of reliability, as they were all higher than .60 (Stemler, 2004).

       Descriptive Analysis and Statistics
       Of the 1,311 podcasts we examined, 384 were coded as talk 
radio, 311 were coded as headline/all news, 35 were coded as sports 
and 119 were coded as weather casts. In addition, 363 were placed 
into the non-U.S. category and an additional 99 were coded as other. 
The podcasts in the talk category ranged from popular radio talk 
shows, such as NPR's Diane Rehm Show: Friday News Roundup and WBZ's 
Jay Talkin', to the type of show that Gil Asakawa referred to as 
sounding like "two stoners yakking at each other."
       Much of what is in the talk category is unlikely to be viewed 
as "news" in the strict journalistic definition. While Kovach and 
Rosenstiel's book The Elements of Journalism argues that the first 
obligation of news is to the truth and that journalism is a 
discipline of verification (2001), the "two live fools" podcast 
issues the disclaimer that they "take no responsibility for the 
misreporting of facts."
       Many of these talk podcasts were little more than an 
individual or group of people giving opinions on topics that mattered 
to them. Going beyond simple debate and discussion, approximately 10 
percent (35) could be easily be deemed "egocasts" with the individual 
who created the podcast merely filling you in on his or her day. 
These casts took on the feel of stream-of-consciousness blogs, where 
the podcasters talked about things that were going on around them and 
what they thought about it. For example, a podcast by "Gonzo" spent 
several minutes discussing the host's latest difficulties with 
flatulence and defecation. Paul Gestwick, a computer science 
professor at Ball State, noted recently that podcasts like these will 
continue to proliferate because they give people "a false sense that 
people are listening" (Studinski, 2006).
       Other shows used the traditional talk format, in that the 
hosts discussed several topics either with a co-host of the show or a 
named guest. For the most part, this is where amateurs and special 
interests propagated. Topics for these casts included discussions of 
Formula One racing, bluegrass music and the art of bartending. A 
total of 368 podcasts were coded as being primarily comprised of new 
material, many of which fell in the talk category. Some podcasts 
straddled the fence between talk and headline news. For example, the 
Naples Daily News podcast features news, weather, sports, 
entertainment and a letter to the editor, much of which is drawn from 
the paper. However, their podcasts are substantially augmented by 
online staff members who interview the reporters of the headline news 
stories to further advance the story.
       The podcasts in the headline news category were created mostly 
by media organizations that re-cut items from radio and television 
shows or recapped the front page of the newspaper. The New York 
Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times and San Francisco Chronicle 
were all represented here with multiple casts, as were ABC, CBS, NBC, 
NPR, PBS and CNN. Groups outside of the mainstream media also used 
the headline news style to inform their listeners. The U.S. Airforce, 
for example, has several podcasts that outline the happenings at 
certain bases throughout the country. Alpha Tau Omega fraternity's 
national chapter has issued a podcast for its members as well. The 
latest happenings in science, computer technology and plastic surgery 
are just a few of the other subjects that have been presented in a 
headline-news-format podcast.
       Of the 407 podcasts coded as being comprised of repurpose or 
shoveled material, most of them were in this category. (Of the 948 
total U.S. podcasts, the remaining 62 were placed in the unknown 
category.) Some television stations used the top story from the 
night's newscast as their podcast for the day, while others uploaded 
the full newscast, including weather and sports, into a single 
podcast. Newspapers often recapped the front page (The New York 
Times) or went as far as to read a full story or column as a podcast 
(The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times), thus fully engaging in 
       Although television news has a large repository of 
broadcast-ready material available for podcasting, difficulties 
emerged in the straight transfer of some of these stories from the 
visual media. For example, one re-cut of the nightly news intoned, 
"We begin with these pictures tonight" when there clearly were no 
pictures. Numerous visual references plagued other podcasts, such as 
KXLY-TV's coverage of a man who drown in the Spokane River. The 
reporter's package likely had several "supers" (names and titles 
shown over the video as the source is speaking) that identified her 
sources. However, the script never introduced the individuals so once 
the video was removed, the identifiers were lost. ABC11 (WTVD-TV) had 
a similar issue when reporting on the death of three high-school 
students. They covered the funeral with a "voice over" in which the 
anchor read scripted material while video played on TV. At one point, 
the sound attached the video was audible, thus leaving the listener 
wonder what was happening.
       The time-shifting component of podcasts also created issues 
for broadcasters.  Given the desire to stress immediacy in broadcast 
(Brooks et al., 2004), many of the anchors and reporter were noting 
that they were "live" somewhere or joining the newscast with a "live 
report." As podcast listeners will decide for themselves when they 
listen to the cast, "live" is not only a misnomer but also places 
emphasis on an inconsequential aspect of the coverage. In addition, 
many of the podcasts from broadcast sources used the term "today" or 
"tonight" to signify when the story was happening. WBAL-TV, for 
example, had a report on the Dubai-based company's decision to 
withdraw its request to run several U.S. ports. In that report they 
had the reporter "joining us this morning." Newspaper podcasts were 
traditionally more on point with their description of when the 
podcasts were being produced or when the source material had been 
produced. For example, Los Angeles Times columnist Michael Hiltzick 
turns his "Golden Gate" column into a podcast each week. At the end 
of the column, he notes the month, date and year that the podcast was 
recorded. The Daily Journal (Kankakee County, Illinois) also notes 
the date of the podcast, but has also numbered them, which has become 
the norm among many podcasters.
       Weather podcasts were not as common as the first two types of 
casts, and were primarily the output of the Weather Channel and Of the 119 weather casts, 99 of them were created by 
one of those two sources, with the remaining 20 re-cut from 
television newscasts. Several podcasts include weather as part of 
their headline newscast, such as WMAZ-TV in Macon, Georgia which has 
meteorologist Andy Wood not only voicing the weather but hosting the 
cast. Sports podcasts were rare in the news category, with only 35 
cases showing up. However that can be explained, as iTunes has an 
entire section of its podcasting library dedicated to sports. As of 
late March, it contains 1,752 podcasts.
       The "other" category of podcasts included 99 podcasts and was 
primarily composed of things that were clearly not news, but had been 
categorized as such by their creators. Much of this was "mock news" 
in which individuals were making up news, but other "non-news" fell 
into this category as well. For example, there is a "Santa" podcast, 
which is said to be delivered from the North Pole and contains some 
information on the importance of being nice.

       Statistical analysis of news media podcast sample.
       To support and augment the descriptive analyses, we conducted 
a series of statistical analyses of the podcasts created by 
newspapers and television news operations. This well help us further 
examine the degree to which newspaper and television outlets are 
relying on their medium-based norms as they create their podcasts.
       Hypothesis 1 states that podcasts created by television 
stations will use shorter sentences than those created by newspapers. 
The total number of words and total number of sentences were 
calculated by a word-processing program. Those numbers were then 
transferred to SPSS for statistical analysis. In our sample, the 
average newspaper podcasts sentence was 18.25 words while the average 
television news podcast sentence was 17.04. A one-way analysis of 
variance (ANOVA) confirmed that these differences were significant 
(F= 4.23, p < .05). Hypothesis 1 was supported.
       Hypothesis 2 states that podcasts created by television 
stations will use more present-tense verbs than past tense verbs in 
their attributions when compared to podcasts created by newspapers. 
Of all the attributions, television podcasts used 63 present tense 
verbs and 9 past tense verbs while newspaper podcasts in the sample 
used 70 present tense verbs and 49 past tense verbs. A chi-square 
analysis demonstrated that these differences are significant 
(chi-Square = 17.45 p < .001). Hypothesis 2 was supported.
       Hypothesis 3 stated that podcasts created by television 
stations will place attributions at the front end of their sentences 
more often than those created by newspapers. Of the attributions in 
newspaper podcasts, 54 were placed at the front of the sentence and 
65 were placed in either the middle or at the end of the sentence. In 
the television podcasts, 59 were placed at the front of the sentence 
while 13 were placed in the middle or at the back. A chi-square 
analysis demonstrated that these differences are significant 
(chi-square = 25.36, p < .001). Hypothesis 3 was supported.
       In addition, we conducted one augmentary analysis of 
news-based podcasts to assess to what degree newspapers and 
television news operations were shovelcasting. We recoded all the 
podcasts that were listed under the news heading of iTunes podcast 
library, focusing only on those that were created by newspapers and 
TV stations. Again, only coding the most-recent edition of each 
podcast, we found that of the 70 podcasts created by newspapers, 40 
were classified as new, 26 were classified as containing primarily 
repurposed content and 4 were classified as unknown. In contrast, of 
the 53 podcasts that came from television news stations, 4 contained 
primarily new material, 48 contained primarily repurposed content and 
1 was classified as unknown. A chi-square analysis indicates that 
these differences are significant (chi-square = 37.11, p < .001) with 
repurposed content dominating the podcasts.

       This study was meant as a first-cut examination of the news 
area of the podcasting realm. The results indicate the majority of 
the podcasts that are currently categorized as news are akin to ham 
radio and early websites: a cornucopia of discussions, arguments and 
streams of consciousness along with some repurposed content that has 
been shoveled to a new medium with little consideration as to the 
limitations of the medium.
       Furthermore, it appears as though print and broadcast news 
operations are encountering many of the same growing pains with 
podcasting as they did with the advent of the web. In a rush to 
establish a presence in this new form of information dissemination, 
few of them seem to be concerned with what they are putting out 
there. Gil Asakawa of the explained that his paper's 
podcast is a reading of the next day's top headlines by college 
journalism students who are using their home computers to voice and 
produce the cast in the middle of the night. He acknowledged that 
listeners are showing an interest in the newness of the podcast but 
that the paper will need to keep improving the quality of these casts 
if it is to retain these listeners in the long term (Potter, 2006). 
Thus, just as the web users tired of shovelware and demanded more, so 
too will podcast listeners.
       As that demand for more and better content increases, it will 
be interesting to see how many of these amateur podcasts remain 
viable. In the early 1990s, Nicholas Negroponte predicted that the 
web would be an affordable means of reaching out to a vast audience 
and would put the average citizen on equal footing with the media 
giants (1995). While the number of web pages grew exponentially 
during the web's early years, many of the web pioneers were unable to 
keep up with the constant demand for content. In the end, many pages 
ended up abandoned and those media giants that had the time and 
resources to invest in the web ended up being the dominant players. 
It was interesting in this examination how many of the podcasts noted 
that this was the first podcast for the individual. In subsequent 
checks by the researchers in this study, the first podcast often 
remained the only cast. In some cases this will change, as people 
develop formats, styles and blog-like followings. However, some will 
go the way of those abandon web pages. Four podcasts found in this 
study were merely "placeholders" with the podcaster noting that he 
was "just checking this out" and that he'd be back soon to do a full 
cast. Those casts remained unchanged from early examinations in 
January through the close of research in March.
       As this was the first study to examine podcasting in this 
manner, there are obvious limitations. The first is that there is 
little that can be done in order to verify the findings. Podcasts in 
the news area grew from about 1,900 in mid-February to about 2,100 in 
the first week of March. A quick check near the end of March found 
that the number of podcasts increased again by about 10 percent. 
Until the podcasting phenomenon stabilizes, getting an accurate read 
on what exactly is out there will be extremely difficult. 
Furthermore, until Apple finds a way to cull dead links and abandon 
casts from the archives, it is likely that the talk radio category 
will be drastically over represented and that dead links will account 
for the lion's share of what is being offered.
       In addition, it is clear that the analyses performed need to 
be augmented and further supported. The analysis of the cast 
transcripts, while offering an interesting bit of supporting 
material, needs to be done with additional variables and with other 
samples. Given what is available at this time in terms of coding 
categories and rules for readability, this was the most logical way 
to proceed. However, as the norms and values of the podcasting world 
come more sharply into focus, it is likely that a better set of 
categories and approaches will emerge and replace the borrowed ones used here.
       Finally, the comparative sample was created by sampling from 
what little populations are present in regard to both television and 
newspaper podcasts. Comparing the material created by the Washington 
Post and comparing it to a local TV affiliate might be unfair. 
However, given what was available to us at the time, this was the 
best way we could draw a sample for analysis.
       In spite of these limitations, this study moves podcasting 
research forward. To date, no podcasting research has been published 
in any scholarly journal nor has any been presented at a national 
journalism conference. Thus, attempting to get a toehold in this 
field has remained difficult for scholars interested in ways to come 
to grips with this new phenomenon. This study provides an opening 
gambit from which other research should follow.

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1 The author would like to thank the Lilly Endowment Inc. for its 
support of this research through a Lilly V early-career faculty support grant.

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