Downloading Podcast News

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, 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.