The Reliable Sources podcast is a strange beast. It’s a podcast from a TV show, Reliable Sources on CNN, hosted by New York Times writer Brian Stelter. Strange because the content is not taken from the hour-long TV broadcast, and stranger yet because it’s far more engaging than the show it relates to. Jacob Weisberg from Slate said a few weeks ago he likes to think of this as the REAL Reliable Sources and Stelter says it gives him longer than a segment to talk to someone and the conversation on the TV show often gets interesting heading into a break
Despite a rabid interest in US media politics I can take or leave the Sunday TV broadcast. Maybe because it airs at 6pm in the UK and I just don’t want to watch media critics shouting at each other in small boxes at that time, and I have had my fill elsewhere during the day (State of the Union with Jake Tapper on CNN 2pm and Meet The Press on CNBC 4pm both good and earlier)
But the Reliable Sources podcast and the daily newsletter have become an essential part of my media diet, and Stelter from the New York Times clearly relishes these longer deeper dives in key subjects. In addition to Weisberg other recent highlights include a lengthy piece with Ryan Holiday telling the story of how and why Peter Thiel brought down the Gawker website in court; Wall Street Journal reporter Ben Fritz on how Netflix and Amazon are changing the way in which we watch movies and why studio executives are so scared; and a few weeks ago a conversation with Pando founder Sarah Lacy re-evaluating Facebook’s place in society.
It’s a shame that the podcast may always be seen as secondary to the TV broadcast because if it was the primary product it would be an acclaimed listen, but the fact that the feed also includes the audio from the TV broadcast means that it will always be seen as an add on. That’s a shame, as the Reliable Sources podcast has become an essential listen and a reliable source for a long explainer on the media issues of the day – and there are plenty of those.