Podcast Tackles ‘News Fatigue’ With Shorter, Snackable Format

Three years ago, Erica Mandy said goodbye to local news and founded her own daily news podcast, The NewsWorthy. In these unprecedented times, audiences are consuming news at a demanding rate and have more options for news consumption than ever before. Yet, many people also feel overwhelmed by it all.

Pew Research recently showed that, as of this year, about two-thirds of Americans feel “news fatigue.” Mandy hopes to solve that problem. She made it her mission to help people stay informed in a quick, unbiased and less depressing way with The NewsWorthy podcast. Each episode is just 10 minutes long, and she calls her approach to news coverage “fast, fair and fun.”

WWD: What is The NewsWorthy and why did you create it?

Erica Mandy:The NewsWorthy is a podcast that offers quick, unbiased daily news roundups in a format we call “fast, fair, fun.” We hope the show comes across like a trusted friend who can easily explain the facts and multiple perspectives of every story.

We pack each 10-minute episode with a variety of news, including politics, business, tech and entertainment, to keep our listeners up-to-date and well-rounded. We also love bringing a friendly voice and fun twist to the news, so you get more than just doom-and-gloom in the day’s headlines.

I launched the show to help solve a problem. After spending more than a decade as a broadcast journalist and TV news reporter, most recently working in Los Angeles, I was hearing from too many people about how they felt fed up with the news. They told me they felt the news was too “depressing,” “time-consuming,” “overwhelming” and “biased.” In fact, Pew Research found (even back then) news burnout and fatigue were real for the majority of Americans.

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So, I wanted to offer something new, and I saw an opportunity in the still growing medium of podcasts.

Ultimately, I quit my TV news reporting job and launched the show. Ever since, I’ve been on a mission to help people stay informed in an easier, more enjoyable way. Over the last three years, our audience has not only grown exponentially, but we’ve also heard from listeners who feel less anxiety about news, who voted for the first time, and who are simply having better conversations with their friends and family — all because they’re getting news in a less depressing, more convenient and always unbiased way with The NewsWorthy.

WWD: How would you describe your fashion style, and how is that reflected in the brands you partner with for the podcast?

E.M.: I’m all about finding balance, and that’s true across my work with news, business and even fashion. When it comes to fashion, I love to create a balance of high-quality and luxury with convenience, practicality and affordability. That might mean mixing high-end pieces with affordable trendy items or just finding a brand that offers a great blend.

For example, I love partnering with fantastic brands like Rothy’s. They advertise on our podcast, The NewsWorthy, which allows me to give authentic and effective endorsements to my audience because I actually love wearing their shoes. They are chic and high-quality while also convenient, comfortable, practical and sustainable.

Another current partner is Stitch Fix, which I love for the busy professional, like me (and many of our listeners), who doesn’t always have much time to shop but still wants to feel and look great.

WWD: What are the benefits of podcast advertising; what makes it effective?

E.M.: The reason host-read podcast advertising is so effective, and we’ve been able to keep our sponsors coming back again and again, is because listeners are getting an authentic endorsement directly from the host — the person they already know, like and trust.

For The NewsWorthy, our listeners come to me for trustworthy news and information daily, so that trust overlaps with the sponsors I recommend.

Even more, our listeners are not just scrolling by. They choose to press play, and then stick around for the entire episode. Unlike a social media video, for example, which has just a few seconds to grab the scroller’s attention, our data shows our audience stays for over 95 percent of the episode. In other words, these are highly engaged audiences.

The proof of advertising effectiveness is in the renewals, and we’re proud of our success rate. In the past year, two-thirds of The NewsWorthy’s sponsors have renewed their ad-buys, many of them multiple times.

The final thing I’ll say about this is that podcasting has proven resilient during the pandemic. There’s a reason both podcast listenership and advertising have continued to increase, despite the challenges our world faces today.

Erica Mandy JennKL Photography

WWD: How has COVID-19 impacted your news coverage?

E.M.: This is one of the most widespread and impactful news stories of our lives. It’s touched every state, every country and every industry, so the stories we cover, of course, reflect that. But to be honest, the way we go about our coverage has not really changed. If anything, it has been amplified.

Our goal has always been to help people stay informed — not anxious. They want to feel prepared — not overwhelmed. And they want to know they’re getting all perspectives of a story, because at a time when their safety is at stake, political-based opinions and political fighting are even more annoying.

That’s why our approach to news has always been “fast, fair and fun,” and I think our audience appreciates that now, more than ever. Our goal is, and has always been, to help people stay informed, without the news burnout.

WWD: What are your overall tips for how people can stay informed yet stay sane/avoid news burnout?

E.M.: First, less is sometimes more. You’ve heard it before, but it applies to news, too. Yes, staying up-to-date is vital to our health these days, but watching three hours of breaking news coverage will likely leave you feeling more anxious and no more informed.

Instead, be more deliberate about how long you’re spending taking it all in. Whether you choose a 10-minute news podcast like The NewsWorthy during your morning coffee or set a timer to read the news in just 15-minute intervals twice a day, this will help you avoid spending time on unnecessary details that are more for the shock value than actual value to your life.

Second, listen to perspectives other than your own.

I’m not suggesting you sit and watch cable news pundits for hours, but I am suggesting you pull yourself out of the echo chamber. Seek out at least two different news sources about the same story, and you may notice each one highlights slightly different viewpoints or aspects of the story. We’re very intentional about pulling from a wide variety of news sources for The NewsWorthy to avoid allowing our own biases, or that of the other reporters we reference, to overly influence the script.

When we take the time to find the reasonable aspects of the “other side,” and realize it’s not just extreme viewpoints that exist, it might lead to a little more understanding, a little less anger, and maybe, get us a little closer to a compromise.
Third, look for the “good news” — or at least, the good people.

News is not just doom-and-gloom. You will always find people who are helping. In every tragedy or, well, global pandemic, there are always heroes, helpers, or people working toward a solution. Seek them out.

At the same time, it’s just as important not to feel like you must fix every problem yourself. There’s a lot we can’t control. That’s OK. As you start to pay attention to how others are working toward solutions, and which stories and issues you feel most passionate about, you’ll be able to be selective yet effective with your contributions.

Finally, variety is the spice of life.

A simple way to ensure we’re mixing in the good stuff is including the “variety-pack” of news. Our lives are varied and impacted by everything from politics to technology to entertainment, so let’s make sure our daily news intake reflects that! It’s one of our priorities at The NewsWorthy. Besides, variety leads to much more interesting conversations.

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