The 10 Best News Podcasts to Keep You Updated and Informed

Written by
Brandon Copple
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5
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Starting your day by streaming a new episode of your favorite news podcast is the modern equivalent of skimming the headlines in your local morning paper. Now and then, staying informed about what’s going on in the world can be stressful. But listening to a well-packaged audio segment, whether you’re enjoying a cup of coffee or brushing your teeth, is an infinitely calmer experience than doomscrolling on your phone in bed the second your alarm goes off.


There are hundreds of news podcasts — and dozens of excellent ones — to choose from. Here are our favorites.

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Top 10 podcasts for staying up to date with the news

1. The Daily

There’s a good reason why The Daily is one of the most popular podcasts in the world. Host Michael Barbaro, known for his dulcet tones, and his newly minted co-host Sabrina Tavernise give listeners a greater understanding of the most pressing stories of that day or week. The hosts have open conversations with New York Times journalists, who break down their reporting on a specific story or beat, lending an approachable feel to complex topics. The episodes, which clock in around 25 minutes or less, wrap up with a quick overview of top headlines of the day.

2. Stories of Our Times

Stories of Our Times follows a format similar to The Daily — a host interviewing a journalist about the story of the day — but from a U.K. perspective, drawing from reporting and commentary from The Times and The Sunday Times. The show, hosted by Manveen Rana and David Aaronovitch, provides fascinating insights for anyone who wants to better understand the world around them, whether it’s an episode on Sinn Féin’s parliamentary win in Northern Ireland or a dissection of the misogynist culture in the U.K.’s House of Commons. Oh, and quick moment of humility: the show’s producers use Descript.

3. Up First

If you’re pressed for time, Up First is the perfect way to catch up on the most important news first thing in the morning. In a tight 13 or 14 minutes, Rachel Martin, Steve Inskeep, and other hosts of NPR’s Morning Edition fill listeners in on what’s going on, often getting the inside scoop from the reporters covering the events. One of the most valuable things about Up First is that it highlights the work of local journalists who have firsthand experience on the ground.

4. The Ezra Klein Show

The Ezra Klein Show from The New York Times is offers a thought-provoking view of the world that goes far beyond the headlines, connecting unexpected dots and uncovering hidden histories. If you want to dig deeper into current affairs through the perspectives of today’s leading researchers, philosophers, or pollsters, you should tune in. Klein keeps the twice-weekly show interesting by bringing in a wide range of fascinating guests, from authors such as Margaret Atwood or Colson Whitehead to Eastern Europe historian Timothy Snyder to trauma psychiatrist Dr. Bessel van der Kolk.

5. In the Thick

Hosted by veteran Latino journalists Maria Hinojosa and Julio Ricardo Varela, In the Thick from PRX and Futuro Media shares a fresh perspective on the latest news that the mainstream media often misses. Along with other journalists of color, the hosts push back on narratives that center on a white, wealthy, and Western point of view, without pulling any punches. For example, following the leak of the SCOTUS draft decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, the show responded by talking to an advocate from an abortion fund for indigenous women, giving voice to those who are the most affected by abortion bans.

6. The New Yorker Radio Hour

In this weekly podcast, The New Yorker’s editor-in-chief David Remnick has thoughtful, probing conversations with politicians, actors, and novelists, as well as the magazine’s journalists and the subjects of their articles. The show is less a radio version of the print publication than a forum for compelling interviews and stories featuring personalities and atmospheres that lend themselves to audio. You’ll hear from the likes of film director Jane Campion, law professor Anita Hill, or a college student who is struggling to make ends meet despite a full-ride scholarship at a selective university.

7. FiveThirtyEight’s Politics Podcast

The FiveThirtyEight’s Politics podcast, from statistician Nate Silver and his team, lives up to its parent publication’s wonky, nerdy reputation of analyzing the news through polls, figures, and statistics. Listen to people who are deeply passionate about the nitty-gritty of the U.S. political process dissect what’s going on in Washington and in local politics across the country. They’ve recently discussed Americans’ views on age limits for running for public office, and tracked who exactly Donald Trump is endorsing in the Republican primaries — and whether that’s hurting or helping the candidates.

8. Stay Tuned with Preet

This series, hosted by former U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York Preet Bharara, offers an  insider perspective on legal and policy issues and bills itself as “a series about justice and fairness.” Which is fitting, given that Bharara, who during his tenure as a federal prosecutor, was known for relentlessly pursuing corrupt politicians, Wall Street fraudsters, and the Mafia. Bahara’s style is both matter-of-fact and irreverent, which makes for a compelling listen whether he’s speaking with politicians, prosecutors, business leaders, or advocates.

9. Pivot

A lot of news is tech news these days, so any general news podcast will touch on notable tech headlines. If you want an expert’s point of view, plus a whole lot of cheeky banter, check out Pivot, a twice-weekly podcast from New York Magazine hosted by veteran tech journalist Kara Swisher and NYU professor Scott Galloway. Episode topics run the gamut from a business analysis of the demise of the CNN+ streaming service to a sweeping history of the U.S. labor movement and how that ties into the recent unionization at Amazon.

10. On the Media

WNYC’s cult-favorite On the Media is an award-winning radio show that explores recent happenings in the broadly defined media world. Every week, host Brooke Gladstone chats with top thinkers on everything from Elon Musk’s purchase of Twitter to how to responsibly and calmly consume pandemic news. Past guests have included historian Jill Lepore, renowned reporters like John Carreyrou (who broke the Theranos story) and Sacha Pfeiffer (of “Spotlight” fame), and popular podcast hosts like Maintenance Phase’s Michael Hobbes or Who Weekly’s Bobby Finger and Lindsey Weber.


Final thoughts: Why listen to news podcasts

News podcasts can be captivating — sometimes even entertaining — whether through a quick digest of the day’s top headlines and breaking news updates or a careful interrogation of a complex issue. If nothing else, they’re an easy way to find out what’s going on in the world while you commute, cook dinner, or run errands.

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Written by
Written by
Brandon Copple

Head of Content at Descript. Former Editor at Groupon, Chicago Sun-Times, and a bunch of other places. Dad. Book reader. Friend to many Matts.

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Brandon Copple

Head of Content at Descript. Former Editor at Groupon, Chicago Sun-Times, and a bunch of other places. Dad. Book reader. Friend to many Matts.

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