With the rise of podcasting, many individuals and

organizations are finding that podcasting is a great way

to distribute information, from music and comedy

shows to talk shows, even podcast news. CNET is one

of the groups that is distributing a news podcast. CNET,

being an online technology site, naturally found a niche

distributing a tech news related podcast. CNET’s recent

podcasts covered such topics as viruses that attack cell

phones, problems with Google’s software, China’s web

restrictions and the “Great Firewall of China”, and the

FTC’s attack on spyware. These news items were

distributed in a sound file called an mp3 file that is

downloadable to a listener’s computer for listening

whenever they wish. While these files were available

straight from CNET’s site, the majority of them are

shared through the use of an RSS file. An RSS file is a

small piece of XML coding that is downloadable by

programs designed to read it. These programs are called

podcast clients, and the user can input the address of the

RSS files that hold the information on the feed. The

feed will contain links to the media files of the podcast,

and will download the new updates automatically.

More sites than CNET are finding that podcast news is

an expoitable technology. The British Broadcasting

Corporation podcasts some of it’s programs, as well as

the US radio network NPR. The NPR, because its work

is created by a variety of different groups, treats

podcasts differently from show to show. The NPR show

“This American Life” distributes a podcast of the show

through a site called audible.com, which allows feed

listeners to subscribe to the feed for a small fee and

download the show . The NPR Hourly News show, on

the other hand, shares a short 5 minute broadcast that

summarizes the news for free. Since the NPR is taking a

radio show and converting it into a file that is

downloadable by the user, little is lost in the translation.

The sound is designed to convey the entire story, and so

podcast subscribers are able to treate the podcast as

nothing more than TIVO for the radio. ABC’s podcast

of the news show Nightline, on the other hand, is

simply the sound track from the television show. This

has been one of the criticisms of the Nightline podcast,

because by merely stripping the sound from what is

designed as a television show, much information is not

given to the users. Listeners have problems telling who

is who because they miss the visual cues that were

supposed to be there, and there is no truly easy way to

convert the shows. For this reason, some news shows

have been moving from audio podcasts to video ones.

They can take the video information directly from the

show that is broadcast, lower the visual resolution to

shrink the file, and distribute it online as a podcast.

Joshua Shoemaker


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