Podcasts on the rise
A survey across multiple countries shows that podcast are on the rise. People love audio, and they listen.
Overall, a third of our sample (34%) listens to a news-related podcast at least monthly but there are significant country differences. In Asian countries like South Korea (58%) and Taiwan (55%), strong smartphone penetration together with high levels of social sharing have helped podcasts grow rapidly. In the United States, which has produced much of the innovation in terms of formats (Serial, S-Town) and business models (sponsorship and targeted advertising), a third (33%) say they have accessed a news podcast in the last month. Source: Podcasts and New Audio Strategies? – Reuters Institute Digital News Report
These results have lots of implications for authors, particularly independent authors, and their audiences. More and more, audio has to be part of the marketing strategy for an independent author.
American Fire and Bad Blood: two excellent pieces of long-form journalism
Good journalism is hard to do — I have said this many times — and when I find some, I tend to pay some attention. A couple of examples of excellent long-form journalism that I have come across lately are American Fire by Monica Hesse and Bad Blood by John Carreyrou.
American Fire: Love, Arson and Life in a Vanishing Land is the story of two sad souls who set more than 80 fires to abandoned buildings between November 2012 and April 2013 in Accomack County on Virginia’s Eastern Shore. The once-thriving county has come to hard times, and although no one was hurt by these fires, the area is served by volunteer fire departments that found themselves stretched to the limit. Who would do this? and why? Monica Hesse set out to answer this question after covering the trial of the two culprits for the Washington Post. She chronicles the massive efforts that law enforcement and private citizens made to find out who in their midst was setting these fire.
Hesse has dug deep and come up with a highly readable book, and if you have an afternoon and/or evening to settle back with it, you will find yourself caught up in the fascinating story of this place.
Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup, by John Carreyrou, is a different book altogether. Elizabeth Holmes was certainly no sad soul; she was blonde, blue-eyed, and deep-voiced and had dropped out of Stanford after her freshman year because she had Silicon Valley’s Next Big Idea. Or so she said. The idea was to create software that would conduct blood tests with just a small drop of blood — a finger prick — rather than having to draw a vial of blood from a person’s arm. That would allow home-testing of blood on a daily basis, and then medications could be adjusted on the fly based on those tests. Such technology could revolutionize the medical industry.
Holmes sold her idea to venture capitalists, investors, and people you have heard of (Rupert Murdock, Betsy DeVoss, George Shultz, Henry Kissinger, etc.), and by 2014 her company, Theranos, had raised $9 billion. Not only was Holmes raising money, but she was also getting rave notices from the nation’s technology press.
The problem was that her technology didn’t work, and that’s what John Carreyrou, a reporter for the Wall Street Journal, found out. This book is the story of how Carreyrou uncovered the fraud and of what happened to him and his sources when he did. It’s not a pretty story, but it’s riveting.
Lesson: People who have lots and lots of money are sometimes greedier than smart. And sometimes they’re not very nice.
Both of these books will pull you in and keep you reading way past your bedtime.
Finally . . .
This week’s watercolor: Harriet Beecher Stowe
Best quote of the week:
There is always something to do. There are hungry people to feed, naked people to clothe, sick people to comfort and make well. And while I don’t expect you to save the world, I do think it’s not asking too much for you to love those with whom you sleep, share the happiness of those whom you call friend, engage those among you who are visionary, and remove from your life those who offer you depression, despair, and disrespect. Nikki Giovanni, poet and professor (1943)
Helping those in need
This is my weekly reminder to all of us (especially me) that there are many people who need our help. It’s not complicated. Things happen to people, and we should be ready to do all the good we can in all of the ways we can. (Some will recognize that I am paraphrasing John Wesley here). When is the last time you gave to your favorite charity? The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR.org)is my favorite charity. Please make a contribution to yours.
Keep reading, keep writing (especially to me), and have a great weekend.
His Amazon author page is where you can find more information about his books.
Last week’s newsletter: Rebecca West, Churchill, an artistic challenge, and harvesting honey: newsletter, June 22, 2018
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