The Washington Post Book World Podcast Canceled

Author: Jack Goodstein
Published: November 18, 2009 at 12:12 pm

After announcing that its Book World podcast would need to attract more subscribers if it were to continue production, the Washington Post announced its cancellation on the November 13th podcast.

During the opening section where hosts discuss the literary news of the week, fiction editor Ron Charles announced this would be Book World's last podcast. Although no reason was given for the cancellation, Charles had been previously quoted as indicating there had been a mandate for the paper to focus its efforts on those "projects that are actually attracting an audience.”

According to one account, managing editor Raju Narisetti, had earlier issued a memo discussing the need to rid the paper's website of blogs which failed to attract a significant enough audience to make best use of the paper's resources. This announcement, coupled with the podcast's cancellation would seem to echo that philosophy, although the cancellation was somewhat abrupt.

The podcast, which usually ran close to thirty minutes, usually consisted of two author interviews, a general literary news introduction, and an announcement of the week's literary events in the Washington, DC area. There had been a closing poetry section for a long time, but this had been dropped earlier. The last show contained interviews with Barbara Ehrenreich on her book about the dangers of positive thinking, and Bruce Feller on Moses as the American prophet.

The cancellation of the podcast forces one to ask if this is just another sign of the decline of print journalism, with revenues no longer able to support less profitable cost centers, even those in opportunities in the new media. The fact that it is the books and authors podcast that gets the axe may well be an indication of similar problems haunting the publishing industry. After all it was not long ago that the Post decided to stop publishing Book World as a separate section.


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Article Author: Jack Goodstein

Retired Professor of English Literature now taking up acting and free lance writing from the wilds of Western Pennsylvania.

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