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The Coronavirus Issue: Tracking — March 16, 2020

Meanwhile, in Vulture… I wrote about the emerging cluster of coronavirus podcasts that’s popped up over the past few weeks as the story evolved from a global concern into a straight-up pandemic.

I tried to string together a few different ideas in this write-up, including its apparent similarities with the impeachment pop-up pod bump, how the daily news podcast infrastructure has felt really effective in proportionately scaling up as the coronavirus story grew more urgent, and how one of the more interesting things to observe is the way in which various niche-subject podcasts and personality-driven podcasts with sizable followings are showing their prominence as they tailor the story to their specific communities.

I found that last thing particularly interesting to watch. Three examples that continue to bounce around in my head: The Ringer’s film, The Big Picture, being relatively early on building an episode around how the coronavirus is affecting the movie business; the folks at Forever35 pubbing a special episode today featuring Caroline Buckee, an epidemiologist, and Dr. Jelena Kecmanovic, founder and director of Arlington DC Behavior Therapy Institute; and the Joe Rogan Experience, widely believed to be one of the biggest podcasts out there, which brought epidemiologist Michael Osterholm on the show last week.

But the biggest thing I sought to highlight in the piece was the experience you’d get if you looked up “coronavirus podcasts” in the search engines of Apple Podcasts and Spotify, the two biggest distributors of podcasts. What you’d get in return is a mixed bag in terms of credibility and reliable information, which poses significant risks when it comes to something like a pandemic. It’s the classic tension associated with podcasting’s open publishing roots: anybody can publish, which means that anybody can publish.

Three non-coronavirus things…

(1) The 2020 edition of Edison Research’s Infinite Dial study will drop, as scheduled, this Thursday. Here’s the save-the-date for the webinar.

(2) I interviewed PJ Vogt about that Reply All episode, “The Case of the Missing Hit.”

(3) The various adventures of Eleanor McDowall are always worth checking out. Her latest project, Field Recordings, features audio-makers standing silently in fields, or things that can be subjectively deemed as fields. Check it out.

Okay, that’s it, folks. Keep well, stay safe, and wash your hands.