Former President Barack Obama gave his last interview as president to a new podcast called Pod Save America. A podcast. How awesome is that?
I’ve long been a fan of a few podcasts — mainly Freakonomics, On the Media, and Welcome to Night Vale, with LifeAfter being a newly found joy — and podcasting has grown in popularity thanks to breakthrough podcasts such as Serial (I’ve been trying to develop a podcasting program for my students, but I’m still working out the details). Now I need to subscribe to Pod Save America, especially since Obama shared some sharp insights into media consumption.
According to a report from Nieman Lab’s Shan Wang, Obama said, “my instinct is everybody hates media right now — everybody knows that the political culture doesn’t work. So that has to be an opportunity.”
As the article pointed out, this isn’t Obama’s first time discussing the media. In his Jan. 10 farewell speech in Chicago, he made a very powerful statement, which echoes what many think and rings so true to me since I live and work in very conservative places:
For too many of us, it’s become safer to retreat into our own bubbles, whether in our neighborhoods or on college campuses, or places of worship, or especially our social media feeds, surrounded by people who look like us and share the same political outlook and never challenge our assumptions.
Those bubbles are real dangers for an informed society. They cause misinformation, further political polarization, make intolerance acceptable and a whole host of other societal ills. These bubbles need to be popped. As Obama said, maybe there is an opportunity in the media hating to help society in the popping of these bubbles. Maybe this is a time for media to take a long look at itself and see how it can better engage and serve the public. Something needs fixed if media’s station in society has dropped so low to be questioned more than gas station sushi.