15 Best News Podcasts for Breaking Stories and Great Analysis – Time Out

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From short-form daily bulletins to lengthy features and deep dives, here are the best news podcasts out there
News podcasts generally fall into two categories: short-form shows broadly synonymous with – and often edited from – standard news bulletins and programmes from the big broadcasters, and longer-form deep dive features-based podcasts that are specially made for the podcast form and are for those with the time and interest to go beyond the headlines. We’ve tried to keep this list as diverse as possible and as global as possible, though inevitably the list is somewhat US-centric, with a bias towards the sort of centre-left producers who invest significant amounts of money in the podcast form.
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Near enough every major newspaper on the planet has at least one podcast, and to state the blindingly obvious, if you like a newspaper, you should totally check out its podcast – you don’t need us to tell you to do so. That accepted, with its vast resources, the New York Times’ podcast ‘The Daily’ is a giant of the genre, with the production values alone worth the admission. Hosted by Michael Barbaro, each daily (duh) episode is 20 minutes (ish) long and delves into a single story at modest depth. It’s reasonably US-centric, but in an interesting way, and there are plenty of stories that cast a global lens.

If you’re looking for a serious international daily global news programme to start your day, then ‘The Globalist’ is a pretty solid recommendation. The flagship podcast of magazine and lifestyle brand Monocle, its daily editions – anchored from London and Zurich – offer a sober and informed overview of the day’s global news, including a review of Europe’s front pages. It’s essentially a relatively conventional 60-minute news show that you can listen to live at 7am GMT/8am CET, but all episodes are available for download globally, and if you’re in the market for a daily overview of the news with a European slant, it’s a pretty excellent choice.

Yes, you could argue that ‘Today in Focus’ is basically the Guardian’s version of ‘The Daily’. But it’s also just a fact that centre-left media give good podcast, and in fact, ‘Today in Focus’ is quite a different beast to ‘The Daily’ – if you’re a real news junkie, one might argue that the two are actually highly complementary. Presented by hosts Nosheen Iqbal and Michael Safi, it has a less formal tone. And in not being nearly so bogged down in UK politics as ‘The Daily’ is in US current affairs, it’s actually a really great show for catching up with the important or just plain idiosyncratic world events that tend to form the focus of the individual weekday editions. 

A news podcast about the news? There’s obviously the danger that a show like WNYC’s ‘On the Media’ could be hugely navel gazey, but actually, the Peabody Award-winning, Brooke Gladstone-hosted show is smart as a whip and relentlessly interesting. Though generally topical to some degree or other, it doesn’t waste its time critiquing the week’s papers or whatever, but instead looks at how our understanding of the world is shaped by media of all forms. It’s unsurprisingly – albeit not wholly – US-centric in its focus.

It would be nice to think that in the not-to-distant future, the BBC’s excellent daily news podcast about the war in Ukraine will be a purely archival thing, long wound down. However, as of mid-2022, ‘Ukrainecast’ looks likely to remain all-too relevant. While many, many other news podcasts have devoted a significant amount of time to the Russian invasions, this is the only dedicated daily one and does so by drawing on the Beeb’s unparalleled pool of brave journalists in the field in the war-torn country.

Undoubtedly the slickest of the short form daily news podcasts, Apple’s offering – anchored by Shumita Basu and Duarte Geraldino – is a nicely-crafted daily news hit to plug you into world events in the morning without leaving you overwhelmed by them. There’s absolutely no denying that it’s extremely US-centric, but it’s high-powered stories of the sort any serious news junkie from any nation will be into, and it does feature global news (such as Ukraine) if the story is big enough.

Now available in most of the English-speaking world, Spotify’s ‘Your Daily Drive’ is perfect for the relatively casual news fan who wants a jolt of current affairs with their tunes on their commute. In other words, it’s basically a breakfast and/or drive time radio show, but the twist is it’s one that’s generated by Spotify’s algorithm – the news content is pulled together from Wall Street Journal, NPR, PRI and local news partners, while the songs are based on your own listening habits – your own personalised radio show!

We’re arguably getting into slightly meta news territory now, but Vox’s excellent ‘Today, Explained’ is well worth listening to for even novice news junkies. Basically, it’s a deeper analysis of the day’s news, picking up and more thoroughly exploring the stories behind the stories. While it absolutely helps if you’ve already listened to the news before listening to the Sean Rameswaram and Noel King-presented podcast, we’re only talking basic headlines – certainly no need to put hours of prep work in, and of course, you can pick and choose which stories you want to get into in more depth.

Nobody does sober, unbiased, business-orientated global news quite like the BBC World Service. The blessing and the curse of the immaculately dryly-named ‘World Business Report’ is that its single-story shows are around ten minutes each, ie considerably shorter than the average podcast, although there do tend to be multiple editions (usually two) throughout the day. It’s not going to get you through a long road trip, but if you like to graze on your international news throughout the day, ‘World Business Report’ is for you.

If you’re not into hosted shows and personality and chit chat and just want a good hard dose of CONTENT, the venerable Time Magazine’s daily podcast ‘The Brief’ is definitely one for you, consisting, as it does, of straight-up narrations of one of its articles per day, with each one generally coming in at something in the region of half an hour. The typical edition will be a weighty feature that’s generally liable to relate to the biggest news of the day – it’s often US-centric but has plenty to offer on, say the war in Ukraine. Overall, it’s just nice to have the audiobook version of Time’s weighty screeds.

The most successful news television show in history… is available as a podcast! The weekly audio version of ‘60 Minutes’ is actually around 43 minutes a show, as it doesn’t feature the TV version’s adverts – a result right there. But there are several other reasons it’s well worth it beyond 17 minutes of your life back: for North American audiences, it’s a version you can listen to on the go; for an international audience, it’s your easiest way to access this slick, high-powered, high-access mix of world events and entertainment news.

This punchy, politicised podcast describes itself as ‘what “Fox & Friends” would sound like if it were hosted by people whose parents read to them as children’ – a statement that clearly reveals the fact that a) ‘What a Day’ is liberal-leaning b) ‘What a Day’ is very American. Still, hosts Gideon Resnick, Josie Duffy Rice, Tre’vell Anderson and Priyanka Aribindi make a genuine art form of the 15-minute daily news podcast, usually covering at least three topics every episode, and it’s enjoyable to have a little attitude served up with your daily stories. For non-US listeners, it’s an excellent guide to some of the more outlandish schemes of right-wing US politicians.

It’s news, but not as we know it, Jim! ‘New Scientist Weekly’ – from the venerable magazine of the same name – is not a rolling in-depth round-up of every single that has happened in science that week, not least because of the glacial speed at which peer-reviewed science ‘breaks’. Nonetheless, the always engaging ‘New Scientist Weekly’ is a features-led show rooted in contemporary scientific developments, and if that sounds like the type of thing you have the brain capacity to, it’s absolutely the best in the biz.

If you want to broaden your news diet a bit but you don’t have the time to be listening to long international feature shows, NPR’s ‘World Story of the Day’ is perfect, a sub-ten minute daily news hit that brings a story from around the globe, generally – but not always – with a focus on what’s making international headlines (ie in 2022 Ukraine features prominently). ‘World’ is naturally defined here as ‘not America’, but the show is of interest to anyone interested in a quick fix of the biggest stories in non-English speaking countries.

Erica Mandy’s defiantly un-partisan, unalarmist short daily podcast is perfect for those who want a wide-ranging ten-minute daily hit of politics, tech, business and entertainment news that won’t make you feel too bad about the world. It’s not that Mandy sugarcoats reality, but ‘The NewsWorthy’ is a breezy listen that tries to present the day’s big news stories in a concise, barebones way, and views politics as only a part of the news it seeks to bring you.
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