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Pods at the Post: Former SOC Student Explores the Power of Audio for Journalism

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Jordan-Marie Smith interviews Senator Bernie Sanders

We have all heard the stats about the circulation of print journalism, and they often do not paint a pretty picture. But, there is a part of the industry that has only seen explosive growth in recent years - podcasting. According to Pew, the percentage of podcast listeners in America has substantially increased over the past decade, from 18% ever having listened to a podcast in 2008, to 44% in 2018. That is millions more unique users every week downloading a podcast, many of them turning to the medium as a place to get news. So, what makes it popular?

Jordan-Marie Smith, current Associate Producer at the Washington Post, believes that one of the strengths of audio journalism is its intimacy. “You can hear someone and their emotions and their pattern of speech and their intonation. And you don’t really have that with print. It’s a two-dimensional story, but you can make it three dimensional with audio.”

Smith, who was an SOC undergrad between 2011 and 2015 and majored in Print Journalism, has spent much of her career so far exploring how audio brings journalism and storytelling to life. While she was still at AU, she started with an internship at NPR, which exposed her to news radio. This transitioned to contract work in NPR departments like the Washington Desk. She also worked on the shows Weekend Edition, Morning Edition, and All Things Considered, as well as freelanced for outlets like the Washington City Paper and All things Go. What she really wanted to do, however, was to help a legacy media organization develop a podcast department. She found this work at McClatchy, where she produced and edited two different podcasts.

Most recently, her work has taken her to The Washington Post, where she is currently an Associate Producer on their daily podcast, Post Reports. Working at the Post is “generally fun and great,” according to Smith. There, she pitches and books stories, produces and edits interviews, writes scripts, and works on features. “I think the future of audio is tied to how people want to consume their news,” she says, about working on a daily newscast.       Her time at AU gave her a grounding to explore her interest in audio and journalism and turn it into a career. Smith was a host for a show for the WVAU, AU’s student run radio station. Despite describing her talks how there as “very, very amateur hour,” she says it helped “show initiative to NPR” show and that she was taking it seriously. Smith also wrote features for SOC News, worked as an SOC Ambassador, did Model UN and wrote for The Eagle, among other extracurriculars and jobs. Her passion and involvement has thoroughly paid off, as her success shows.

For students soon to be entering the job market, Smith emphasizes the importance of networking. “Find your people and they’ll always be in your corner.” Above all, however all, is confidence. “You can let other people doubt you, but don’t doubt yourself.”