The "ABC News Shuffle" sounds like something the network's executives might have been doing in their recent search for a new anchor team. But the shuffle that's been under way at ABC for more than six months now is something entirely different--a weekly 15-minute podcast hosted by reporters Jake Tapper and Hari Sreenivasan that offers a glimpse into the future of broadcast news.
Podcasts are basically digital files you can download from the Internet and listen to whenever and wherever you want. Free software makes it easy for computer users to subscribe to regular podcast feeds, download them automatically and transfer them to a portable device like an iPod for later playback. According to the audience measurement service Bridge Ratings, podcast usage has exploded from 820,000 users in late 2004 to almost five million one year later. Bridge predicts that five years from now, that number will be at least 45 million.
At this point, most podcasts are more like personal audio blogs than newscasts, "like two stoners yakking at each other in a basement," says Gil Asakawa, executive producer of denverpost.com. Getting an accurate count of podcasts that actually offer news seems almost impossible. The directory PodcastAlley.com lists more than 400 in the news category, but the list includes the "MuggleCast," produced by and for...
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