To offer a taste of the variety of topics the top-ranked podcasts represent, and to give a sense of what podcast listeners experience, we compiled clips from the shows we studied.
The transition of the news industry away from print, television and radio into digital spaces has caused huge disruptions in the traditional news industry, especially the print news industry. Today, an overwhelming majority of Americans get news at least sometimes from digital devices.
Social media is playing a crucial role in Americans' news consumption. Today, three-in-ten U.S. adults say they regularly get news on Facebook. Slightly fewer (26%) regularly get news on YouTube.
Newspapers are a critical part of the American news landscape, but they have been hard hit as more and more Americans consume news digitally.
Black Americans see a range of problems with how Black people are covered in the news. Almost two-thirds of Black adults (63%) say news about Black people is often more negative than news about other racial and ethnic groups. And while few are optimistic that will change in the foreseeable future, many see ways in which that coverage could be improved.
True crime is the most common topic, making up 24% of top-ranked podcasts; 15% of the top podcasts focus on news. The next most common topics are politics and government (10%); entertainment, pop culture and the arts (9%); and self-help and relationships (8%).
Roughly half of U.S. adults say they have listened to a podcast in the past year, including one-in-five who report listening at least a few times a week. Most podcast listeners say this experience includes hearing news, which they largely expect to be mostly accurate. Large shares of listeners say they turn to podcasts for entertainment, learning or having something to listen to while doing something else.
In recent years, several new options have emerged in the social media universe, many of which explicitly present themselves as alternatives to more established social media platforms. Free speech ideals and heated political themes prevail on these sites, which draw praise from their users and skepticism from other Americans.
Local newspapers have been hit particularly hard by the transition to digital news consumption in recent years, with many forced to shutter their doors permanently.
The total number of journalists assigned to state capitol buildings is up 11% since 2014, though figures vary widely by state. And as newspapers employ fewer statehouse reporters, nonprofits are filling much of the void.