Producing For an International Audience

Sabrina Bertsch - The Biggest Story in the World
Jake Macfarlane's picture Jake Macfarlane 2 years 7 months ago

Review: The Biggest Story in the World digs deep while trying to tell an old story in a new way

The Biggest Story in the World is a podcast produced by The Guardian focusing on

climate change. In the first minute, the podcast describes itself as "a story about people", "a story

about possibility" and "a story that affects us all." Right off the bat, they've established how

important this subject matter truly is. While it may not sound exciting on the surface, this podcast

manages to raise important questions about the planet while weaving in information and

interviews to create a dynamic and thought-provoking story.

It's not an easy task, trying to educate people on a problem that we're all aware exists but

aren't doing all that much to fix. We know that we should recycle or carpool but we often find

ourselves getting our coffee in a disposable cup or calling an Uber instead of taking the subway.

They're small actions but they contribute to a much bigger problem.

The Guardian is arguably tackling the most critical problem of our generation and they do

so without lecturing. They've managed to produce something that is thought-provoking,

engaging, and appealing to an international audience. The podcast remains approachable as the

language remains simple with clear explanations to ensure that anyone could listen and actually

understand what's going on. Concepts like the fossil fuel lobby and its billion dollar industry are

given concise overviews which offer enough context for newbies to get it (and are short enough

that the know-it- alls stick around without getting bored).

And they manage to do all that without talking down to their audience--quite the feat.

During this 12-part series, The Guardian dives into everything from keeping fossil fuels

in the ground to carbon taxes to the psychology of making people care about an issue they've

become indifferent to. The Guardian strikes a balance between educating and asking questions

(because, despite their best efforts, they don't have all the answers).

I love podcasts and while this story didn't seem all that appealing to me at first, I found

myself becoming more and more absorbed as it progressed. Canadians are incredibly aware of

the impacts of climate change or at the very least Torontonians are as they put away and take out

their winter coats every other week. But this podcast is more than a discussion on the

environment, it's a behind the scenes look at the process of developing this project. If you're

interested in journalism or investigative reporting, you should give this listen. Episode by

episode, you're able to hear the thought process behind the decisions and are better able to

understand the Guardian's choices as they attempt to tell an old story in a new way.

This podcast is a call to action. Our planet is our responsibility and we often forget that

we shoulder that responsibility together. No matter where you live or what you do, you play a

part in the health and future of the world. It calls every single one of its listeners out as we sit

back while watching the ice caps melt and the ozone thin. Despite the reprimand, this podcast is

candid as the producers themselves note that they are also part of the problem and could have

done something earlier. They keep themselves in check by acknowledging the limitations of a

podcast--how much can they actually achieve? But at the end of the day, they made the decision

to do something and try to tell the biggest story in the world in an innovate way.