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Is This Cool, or What?
Newspapers are delivering content readers want through new technology


What it is: A podcast is simply a downloadable audio file. As with TV shows, podcasts are usually recurring programs. You can listen to an episode straight from your Web browser or download it to your computer with special “podcatcher software.”

Listening: If you find a show you want to hear, often the easiest thing to do is just click on the audio link and listen as it plays on your computer.

Subscribing: Podcatching software allows you to “subscribe” to a show, with new episodes downloaded automatically to your computer. iTunes, Yahoo’s Music Engine and iPodder X are some of the options. Each application works differently. In iTunes, available free for Windows and Mac machines, go to the Podcast directory and browse or search for shows. Click on the show you want, and then click the “Subscribe” button. New shows will be downloaded when they become available. With other software, you may need to copy the URL of the podcast and paste it into your software.

On the go: Most software also lets you easily copy the shows to your portable music players.

The show announces its arrival with an up-tempo music intro that quickly segues to the voice of one of the two hosts. Today’s line-up: a chat with a Philadelphia Eagles beat writer (“Is the Eagle’s football season over?”) and a segment on 19-year-old singer-songwriter Catherine Tuttle.

It sounds like any of a dozen professionally produced radio talk shows around the country.
But it’s not.

It’s an Internet radio show – a podcast – produced by two newspaper veterans at the Philadelphia Daily News.

The downloadable audio show is called Philly Feed (“It’s like nectar for your ears.”) And it exemplifies how newspapers are evolving. As they scramble to keep up with the fast-changing Internet landscape, they are experimenting with new ways to package and deliver content, diving headlong into new forms of media and inviting readers to play bigger
roles in the newsgathering process.

Podcasts – now being produced at several Knight Ridder papers – are letting reporters speak to readers (literally) and introduce them to story subjects in ways not possible with the printed word or photos. Another technology called RSS lets readers sign up electronically for just the news they want. And the two-way nature of the modern Internet lets readers contribute news and photos to Web sites – breaking down some of the traditional newspaper gatekeeping barriers.

Listen and watch
Frank Burgos, Daily News editorial page editor, hatched the idea for Philly Feed back in January 2004,
when podcasting was emerging as an exciting new medium. The Daily News is believed
to be the first U.S. newspaper to give it a try.

Philadelphia Daily News Editorial Page Editor
Frank Burgos recognized that podcasting would
be a big thing when he hatched the idea
for PhillyFeed last year.
Photo by STEVEN M. FALK/Philadelphia Daily News

Podcasting (its name comes from Apple’s iPod music player) lets people “subscribe” to audio programming on the Web and have it delivered to their computers. It has spawned thousands of wanna-be radio stars and podcast shows, from the serious (NPR programming) to the humorous (The Bitterest Pill by stay-at-home comedian-dad Dan Klass).

Burgos originally envisioned Philly Feed as an audio version of the paper’s Op-ed pages. But it quickly morphed into a variety show that mixes sports, local news, culture and whatever else makes sense when the microphones come to life.

“For me, a part of it was, can we train ourselves to present news in a different way?’’ said Burgos, who co-hosts with Eric Mayberry, the paper’s advertising director. “We’ve learned a lot from it.”

Daily News columnist and fitness trainer Kimberly Garrison now also has a podcast. And The Philadelphia Inquirer now has five, all sports-focused.

The San Jose Mercury News launched a handful of podcasts that can be found on iTunes, focusing on technology, pop music and video gaming.

“Basically, it’s like radio,’’ said pop music writer Marian Liu, who’s produced several episodes. “It just gets at readers who normally wouldn’t get it from print. Combined with my blog, I get a lot more feedback." >> More

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