As a young person in 2020, there can be an understandable pressure to keep up with the events of the world. However, with the impeachment and then acquittal of Donald Trump, Britain’s de jure departure from the European Union, and the spread of coronavirus all being major headlines within the month alone, there are of course limits on how much any one person can take in. When the stresses of being a university student are added to this, there can be little time left to sit down and read the leading articles of the day. Podcasts can present a solution to this pressure; they provide an opportunity for listeners to engage with the world and stay informed while going about their everyday lives. Here are four news & current affairs podcasts that I have made a part of my daily routine and keep my informed in bite-size chunks:
Today in Focus – The Guardian
Presented by The Guardian’s former political editor, Anushka Asthana, Today in Focus offers in-depth daily coverage of two news stories per episode. Often these are discussions of the events dominating the headlines, or deep dives into topics which affect our world but may not be getting the coverage they deserve. Since starting in 2018, Asthana and her team have covered subjects ranging from the protests in Hong Kong and the assassiantion of Qassem Solemani, to conflict within the Dubai royal family and an interview with Edward Snowden. Broadcast every week day and typically lasting around 30 minutes, this podcast usually covers one story in depth, with a shorter follow up section at the end.
Episode to start with: “How did Isabel dos Santos become Africa’s richest women?” (24/01/2020)
Worldly – Vox
Produced by American digital media company Vox, Worldly
goes out weekly and presents the listener with a discussion between host
Zack Beauchamp and various guests, focusing on the major international news of
the week. The dialogue between the hosts is often humorous but also
offers sharp analysis on controversial elements of foreign affairs. I find that
its focus on the wider world can be a welcome break from a news environment
usually dominated by the domestic impact of Brexit. The hosts occasionally
report from the field as well, most notably when Beauchamp journeyed to Hungary
to interview a refugee victim of Viktor Orban’s anti-migrant policies.
Episode to start with: “Why the US can’t win in Afghanistan” (12/09/2019)
The Daily – The New York Times
Another American podcast, this time from the well respected New York Times – hosted by Michael Barbaro. Taking a similar format to Today in Focus but with a different perspective, The Daily presents a Monday-Friday analysis of the day’s leading news stories. I find this particularly useful for keeping up with American current affairs which can often seem alien to outsiders but nevertheless affect politics across the world. The Daily also then provides a fascinating outsider’s view on issues affecting Britain and Europe when discussing the world outside of the US.
Episode to start with: “The Battle for Europe” (10/06/2019)
John Simpons’ World – independently produced
Unlike the other podcasts on this list, John
Simpson’s World is not part of a larger media company. Instead it draws
upon the personal experience of long time BBC foreign affairs editor John
Simpson who says, to paraphrase, that he set it up so that he could swear and
have opinions on air. Alongside his producer, Lisa Francesca Nand, Simpson
gives an expert’s humorous insight into the trends of global politics. Having
witnessed the Tiananmen Square massacre and interviewed Vladimir Putin,
Simpson’s immense personal experience offers a unique perspective from which to
learn about the “behind the scenes” of global politics. The podcast comes out
in seasons, with the first having run from August to October 2019.
Episode to start with: “What’s Really Happening in Russia?” (24/09/2019)
Listening to current affairs podcasts from a wide range of organisations such as these has helped me to keep up with the busy 24/7 news cycle we all live in. From analysing the effects of climate change to discussing the idiosyncrasies of world leaders, podcasts enable students to gain a firmer grasp of world politics while also fitting easily into our hectic term time schedules.