What it is: Podcasts are often specially recorded audio segments, but now Apple may be working with others to convert written articles into audio files.
For many people, books on tape has allowed them to enjoy a book without reading it. Instead, you just listen to an audio file of someone reading the book to you. The problem with books on tape is that someone actually has to sit down and read the book out loud and record it.
Now Apple has opened a Spoken Edition category in iTunes, which promises to turn written news articles into audio files that people can listen to as podcasts. This will allow people to listen to their favorite news stories from different sources such as Time Magazine, The Economist, or The New York Times. In the past, hiring someone to read news articles wasn’t practical but a company called SpokenLayer seems to be working with various news publications to make this more cost-effective.
Publications pay SpokenLayer to turn their written articles into audio podcasts that they can put on iTunes. to monetize these podcasts, these publications insert audio ads. SpokenLayer works with a team of people who then recite these news articles so the cost of hiring a reader doesn’t fall on the publisher’s shoulders. As a result, SpokenLayer’s team of professional readers can turn written articles from various publications into podcasts.
For publishers, this is one more way to profit off their existing content. For consumers, this is one more way to enjoy news without reading. In the old days, news was carefully segmented among newspapers, radio, and television. With the Internet, the boundaries of information are getting blurred where written news gets turned into radio-like audio segments. It’s actually easier for someone to record television news as audio-only podcasts as well since you just need to strip out the video portion. That way podcast consumers can get news from both print and television sources as well.
The more news available, the more educated people should get. Assuming, of course, that people actually read news from different sources instead of focusing only on news sources with the same bias as they have.