The continuing adventures of Beau Yarbrough

Five podcasts to fill the Serial void

Thursday, December 18, 2014, 13:02
Section: Arts & Entertainment

Serial logo

The just-wrapped Serial podcast has been called an “inflection point” for podcasts. I’ve been listening to podcasts long enough to remember when iTunes completely transformed podcasting when it waded into the market in back in 2005. But certainly Serial, benefiting from the cachet of Ira Glass and popular enough to spawn its own parodies, has brought a lot of new ears (and maybe eyes, for video podcasts) to the medium.

Although there’s nothing exactly like Serial out there to fill the void until the next season starts some time next year.

  1. Although The Moth is probably the biggest name in personal story podcasts, for my money, Love + Radio cuts deeper and casts light into shadows that few people ever get to see. There are many episodes that I’m amazed that the producers found the people they did and were able to get them to share the often painful, sometimes hilarious and more than once in a while, more than a little bit profane, stories. There’s an element of danger in nearly all of these stories, whether physical or emotional.
  1. Criminal does what it says on the tin: This is a true crime podcast, although it’s often just as much about what led up to the crime and the consequences of it as the crime itself. Hackers, scam artists, serial killers: The podcast runs the gamut.
  1. Next to This American Life, Radiolab is probably the smartest, best-sounding podcast around. (It also plays on some NPR stations, but there are plenty of episodes that are podcast-only.) Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich are national treasures, and follow their curiosity down all sorts of rabbit holes. Alongside Alton Brown and the Mythbusters, they make science accessible and cool, even for those who might otherwise be intimidated by it.
  1. A podcast about design doesn’t sound compelling, but Roman Mars’ 99% Invisible makes eclectic subjects like the Portland city flag, the hashtag and the Ouija board fascinating, with sound design that is some of the best in the business. This is also a show that sometimes is played on public radio stations, but not nearly enough — your best bet is to find it as a podcast.
  1. Finally, Reply All is a technically a new podcast, but it’s really just the creators of the older TLDR pocast — itself a spinoff of the excellent On the Media radio show/podcast that all journalists should be listening to — striking out on their own. These short weekly shows look at elements of Internet life and history. In their first five weeks, they’ve looked at Jennicam, unwittingly sharing private financial lives via social media, the man who created pop-up ads, a social media network for medical professionals and an app that gets strangers to deliver in-person messages to recipients (sometimes). Even subjects that seem skippable end up being compelling and told with a sense of humor and fun.

There’s obviously a lot more podcasts out there — they replaced radio for me years ago — and I’m glad that Serial helped open more people’s eyes (and ears) to them. If there’s a great podcast out there that Serial fans would enjoy that I’ve missed, sound off in the comments.

I’m in the Columbia Journalism Review. Sort of.

Thursday, July 17, 2014, 0:39
Section: Journalism

My name was one of those in an ad taken out by the California Teachers Association, announcing the winners of 2013 John Swett Awards for Media Excellence.

I won an award for my coverage of the parent-trigger movement in the San Bernardino Sun and Los Angeles Daily News.

Investigative Reporters and Editors 2014 conference panel liveblogs

Wednesday, July 2, 2014, 10:10
Section: Journalism

Investigative Reporters and Editors logo

I just returned from a 10-day vacation in San Francisco, both for my father’s 70th birthday and to attend to the 2014 Investigative Reporters and Editors conference.

As the Los Angeles News Group helpfully paid for my membership and conference fee, I liveblogged the 19 (!) panels I attended. I attend IRE conferences — this is my second; I attended the 2010 conference in Las Vegas as well — for the practical advice and “how to replicate my awesome investigation” outlines and tips, not war stories, so note that the liveblogs are light on those and favor news-you-can-use (assuming you’re an investigative journalist, at least).

Here then, are the liveblogs. I’ll be updating them shortly to add any supplemental tip sheets and handouts provided by the speakers:

  1. Investigations that focus on forgotten victims
  2. On the beat: Education
  3. 60 (data-driven) ideas in 60 minutes
  4. The Kingmakers: Tracking money and influence in politics
  5. Open records: New challenges to access
  6. Small newsrooms, big stories: Doing data-driven investigations with limited resources
  7. The data-driven story: Conceiving, launching and taking it home
  8. Campus coverage: Student loans debt and aid
  9. Mining documents to build your investigation
  10. On the beat: Local government
  11. Investigating veterans issues
  12. Deep dive: Mobile-first journalism making big stories work on small screens
  13. They’re watching you: Investigating the surveillance society and protecting your work from prying eyes
  14. How to find stories in government contracting data
  15. Campus coverage: Sexual assault and other crimes on campus
  16. Investigating in a small town
  17. Using Twitter data to tell stories/
  18. Friendly fire: Investigating do-gooders and crowd-pleasers/
  19. Open source tools for news
  20. Web tools, tips and tricks for investigations

The IRE is posting the tipsheets for the panels here as they get them.

The greatest journalism video of all time

Thursday, February 20, 2014, 9:13
Section: Arts & Entertainment, Journalism

iPod Top 100: 2013

Wednesday, January 1, 2014, 15:35
Section: Arts & Entertainment

A little later than usual this year, but here’s what I was listening to the most in 2013.

Previous editions can be found here: 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012.

There’s probably something a psychologist could tease out of the number of female rockers on these lists, which seems to be the only consistent element over the years.

1. “Party Kids” - Sallie Ford & The Sound Outside
2. “The Sword By My Side” - The Thermals
3. “Awkward” - San Cisco
4. “Black Sheep” - Gin Wigmore
5. “They Told Me” - Sallie Ford & The Sound Outside
6. “Holy Roller” - Thao & The Get Down Stay Down
7. “Summer in the City” - The Eels
8. “Island Song” - Zac Brown Band
9. “Slyd” - !!!!
10. “Water” - Brad Paisley


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Veritas odit moras.