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MusicThe 14 best news podcasts

The 14 best news podcasts

The news is showing no signs of slowing down. In fact, there’s so many wild new headlines every day, it can end up feeling impossible to keep up with it all. But that’s where news podcasts come in, giving listeners a detailed insight into the news, all on their own time schedule. 

Though they’re presented by experts in their field, news podcasts aren’t like just listening to the radio. Podcasts about the news tend to fall into two categories: Short-form podcasts, which are either edited from the news itself, and longer-form podcasts. These longer ones are more like features than straight news, and aim to go beyond the headlines. Ready to take the news everywhere you go? We’ve rounded up our top picks below to help you get stuck in. 

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Best news podcasts, ranked

Today in Focus

Photograph: The Guardian

1. Today in Focus

Presented by hosts Nosheen Iqbal and Michael Safi, ‘Today in Focus’ is slightly less formal than something like ‘The Daily’. Simply put, it’s a really great show for keeping up with world events big and small, be it important or just plain idiosyncratic. Episodes are full of expert interviews and political analysis, and new eps are released every day. 

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The Daily

Photograph: The New York Times

2. The Daily

So, most major publications have their own podcasts at this point. And for good reason, as it helps us really get into the stories they’re putting out there (and experiment with a longer form than 300 or so words at a time). Generally speaking, if you like a newspaper, you should give its podcast a go – and the New York Times’ podcast ‘The Daily’ is a pretty great example. Released daily (obvs), each episode is hosted by Michael Barbaro and is about 20 minutes long, which gives you a pretty deep dive into the news without being exhaustive. 

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The Globalist

Photograph: Monocle

3. The Globalist

If you’re looking for a serious international daily global news programme to start your day, then ‘The Globalist’ is a pretty solid recommendation. The flagship podcast of magazine and lifestyle brand Monocle, its daily editions – anchored from London and Zurich – offer a sober and informed overview of the day’s global news, including a review of Europe’s front pages. It’s essentially a relatively conventional 60-minute news show that you can listen to live at 7am GMT/8am CET, but all episodes are available for download globally, and if you’re in the market for a daily overview of the news with a European slant, it’s a pretty excellent choice.

Apple News Today

Photograph: Apple

4. Apple News Today

Undoubtedly the slickest of the short form daily news podcasts, Apple’s offering – anchored by Shumita Basu and Duarte Geraldino – is a nicely-crafted daily news hit to plug you into world events in the morning without leaving you overwhelmed by them. There’s absolutely no denying that it’s extremely US-centric, but it’s high-powered stories of the sort any serious news junkie from any nation will be into, and it does feature global news (such as Ukraine) if the story is big enough.

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On the Media

Photograph: WNYC Studios

5. On the Media

A news podcast about the news? There’s obviously the danger that a show like WNYC’s ‘On the Media’ could be hugely navel gazey, but actually, the Peabody Award-winning, Brooke Gladstone-hosted show is smart as a whip and relentlessly interesting. Though generally topical to some degree or other, it doesn’t waste its time critiquing the week’s papers or whatever, but instead looks at how our understanding of the world is shaped by media of all forms. It’s unsurprisingly – albeit not wholly – US-centric in its focus.

Ukrainecast

Photograph: BBC Radio

6. Ukrainecast

Sadly, the BBC’s excellent news podcast about the war in Ukraine is still relevant in 2024, with new episodes still being released every few days. Drawing on the Beeb’s unparalleled pool of brave journalists in the field in the war-torn country, ‘Ukrainecast’ is a balanced, detailed account of the war and its effect on the lives of Ukrainians, and it’s an important reminder that the war is far from over, even as it fades from the headlines. 

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Your Daily Drive

Photograph: Spotify

7. Your Daily Drive

Now available in most of the English-speaking world, Spotify’s ‘Your Daily Drive’ is perfect for the relatively casual news fan who wants a jolt of current affairs with their tunes on their commute. In other words, it’s basically a breakfast and/or drive time radio show, but the twist is it’s one that’s generated by Spotify’s algorithm – the news content is pulled together from Wall Street Journal, NPR, PRI and local news partners, while the songs are based on your own listening habits – your own personalised radio show!

Today, Explained

Photograph: Vox

8. Today, Explained

We’re arguably getting into slightly meta news territory now, but Vox’s excellent ‘Today, Explained’ is well worth listening to for even novice news junkies. Basically, it’s a deeper analysis of the day’s news, picking up and more thoroughly exploring the stories behind the stories. While it absolutely helps if you’ve already listened to the news before listening to the Sean Rameswaram and Noel King-presented podcast, we’re only talking basic headlines – certainly no need to put hours of prep work in, and of course, you can pick and choose which stories you want to get into in more depth.

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World Business Report

Photograph: BBC World Service

9. World Business Report

Nobody does sober, unbiased, business-orientated global news quite like the BBC World Service. The blessing and the curse of the immaculately dryly-named ‘World Business Report’ is that its single-story shows are around ten minutes each, ie considerably shorter than the average podcast, although there do tend to be multiple editions (usually two) throughout the day. It’s not going to get you through a long road trip, but if you like to graze on your international news throughout the day, ‘World Business Report’ is for you.

60 Minutes

Photograph: CBS News Radio

10. 60 Minutes

The most successful news television show in history… is available as a podcast! The weekly audio version of ‘60 Minutes’ is actually around 43 minutes a show, as it doesn’t feature the TV version’s adverts – a result right there. But there are several other reasons it’s well worth it beyond 17 minutes of your life back: for North American audiences, it’s a version you can listen to on the go; for an international audience, it’s your easiest way to access this slick, high-powered, high-access mix of world events and entertainment news.

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What a Day

Photograph: Crooked Media

11. What a Day

This punchy, politicised podcast describes itself as ‘what “Fox & Friends” would sound like if it were hosted by people whose parents read to them as children’ – a statement that clearly reveals the fact that a) ‘What a Day’ is liberal-leaning b) ‘What a Day’ is very American. Still, hosts Gideon Resnick, Josie Duffy Rice, Tre’vell Anderson and Priyanka Aribindi make a genuine art form of the 15-minute daily news podcast, usually covering at least three topics every episode, and it’s enjoyable to have a little attitude served up with your daily stories. For non-US listeners, it’s an excellent guide to some of the more outlandish schemes of right-wing US politicians.

New Scientist Weekly

Photograph: New Scientist

12. New Scientist Weekly

It’s news, but not as we know it, Jim! ‘New Scientist Weekly’ – from the venerable magazine of the same name – is not a rolling in-depth round-up of every single that has happened in science that week, not least because of the glacial speed at which peer-reviewed science ‘breaks’. Nonetheless, the always engaging ‘New Scientist Weekly’ is a features-led show rooted in contemporary scientific developments, and if that sounds like the type of thing you have the brain capacity to, it’s absolutely the best in the biz.

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World Story of the Day

Photograph: NPR

13. World Story of the Day

If you want to broaden your news diet a bit but you don’t have the time to be listening to long international feature shows, NPR’s ‘World Story of the Day’ is perfect, a sub-ten minute daily news hit that brings a story from around the globe, generally – but not always – with a focus on what’s making international headlines. ‘World’ is naturally defined here as ‘not America’, but the show is of interest to anyone interested in a quick fix of the biggest stories in non-English speaking countries.

The NewsWorthy

Photograph: Erica Mandy

14. The NewsWorthy

Erica Mandy’s defiantly un-partisan, unalarmist short daily podcast is perfect for those who want a wide-ranging ten-minute daily hit of politics, tech, business and entertainment news that won’t make you feel too bad about the world. It’s not that Mandy sugarcoats reality, but ‘The NewsWorthy’ is a breezy listen that tries to present the day’s big news stories in a concise, barebones way, and views politics as only a part of the news it seeks to bring you.

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