Keeping informed in 2020 can seem like an exhausting task. With constant updates coming at us from all sides, but no idea of which way to look, information overload is real. But if you’re looking for an easy, convenient way to stay up to speed on the world around you, podcasts might just be the answer.

The news doesn’t have to be confusing and stressful. Find a news podcast you like, and it can actually be very simple. You can listen to updates while on your commute, or during your chores. News podcasts can help you stay up to date as part of your routine, without eating up your precious free time.

There’s a massive range of news podcasts out there, and it’s difficult to know where to start. So we’ve curated this list of the best ones for you. Whether you want short no-nonsense updates, opinions and debates, or a bit of a laugh in your news, we’ve got you covered. There’s some podcasts focusing on American or UK news, and some that cover global stories too.

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1. Planet Money

For a lot of us, the economy seems like something we should understand, but don’t. It can be difficult to care when all the explanations you get are a bunch of people talking too fast about words that don’t make sense. Fancy finance terms and unexplained numbers getting thrown around don’t exactly help make things less confusing.

But economics is important. It drives so much of our lives, and a lot of the news, too. Planet Money is the podcast that actually explains how, in a way that makes sense to everyone. New episodes go into a different topic in 25 minutes every Friday. They cover everything from how behavioural economics can help get more people wearing masks, to why oil prices can turn negative. Planet Money tells engaging stories with real people at the centre. The show tackles serious issues, but it puts a hopeful light on them, emphasising what can be done to improve the situation. This podcast is American so it focuses on US news stories, but it puts them into a global context.

2. The Argument

Politics has never felt more divisive. Assuming the other side is full of idiots is something we’ve probably all been guilty of. But it’s a dangerous mindset to get into. The Argument is the podcast that can help heal this problem in America. Take a step outside of your comfortable echo-chamber, and listen to opinions from all sides of the debate. Despite its title, The Argument does a great job of having genuinely open political discussions without them devolving into shouting matches. We could all use a little empathy for the other side right about now, and this podcast can help make understanding them easier.

Each episode is 30-50 minutes long and focuses on a different debate, featuring guests from both sides of the aisle to explain their opinions. New episodes come out every Thursday.

3. Sustainababble

You want to stay informed on the climate crisis, but in a way that doesn’t induce a constant terrifying dread about the world being on fire. Climate change is not on the best path right now, but it’s not the end of the world. Well, it might be, but the point is it doesn’t have to be. There are actually things happening and people working to make the future a bit less on fire. And you can stay updated on them all with Sustainababble!

Listen to Ol and Dave muddle their way through the hows and whys of solving the climate crisis, in weekly episodes of about 45 minutes each. Many episodes feature a guest too, who always adds valuable insights. They interview a variety of people, from climate activists to actors to philosophers. Sustainababble is really easy listening, and the hosts are brilliantly funny. They make serious issues into bitesize episodes that will make you laugh out loud, and get you more informed on the climate.

4. Today in Focus

The Guardian has created a well researched and brilliantly produced British news podcast here. Clear, in-depth analysis makes for an interesting and informative show. Personal stories are combined with hard facts and statistics, to bring you memorable and accurate reporting. Your host Anushka Asthana asks thought provoking questions in interviews with expert journalists. You’ll leave this podcast confident you understand the story behind the headline with every episode.

Covering one story in each 20-30 minute episode, this news podcast comes out every weekday.

5. The Takeaway

If you’re looking for clear explanations of what on earth is going on in American politics, this is the podcast for you. Your host Tanzina Vega is clear and to the point, and her guests are always informative. Interviews with experts, live reports from the field, and listener participation - this news podcast has got it all.

With deep dives into the top three to five news stories of the day, each episode will leave you feeling more knowledgeable. Episodes are around 45 minutes long.

6. The Slow Newscast from Tortoise Media

The constant stream of news is only ever a click away. It can feel like if we’re not updated on the latest headlines all the time, we’re falling behind. That can get overwhelming pretty quickly. But by the end of the week, or month, or year, how many of those headlines do you remember? How much did you take the time to actually fully understand?

The Slow Newscast will help with the understanding part. For around 30 minutes every week, you go deep into one big headline. Find out how we got to this point, and figure out the wider meanings of the story, and why it matters. Gaining a deep understanding of big, complicated topics takes longer than the usual 5 minutes we give to each news item before moving onto the next one. So this podcast asks you to slow down. They are here to ‘look at what’s driving the news, not breaking news’.

7. Coronavirus Global Update

Figuring out what’s going on with the whole global pandemic thing can be pretty draining. It sometimes feels like you have to live and breathe the news to know what’s going on (and even after that you might still end up as confused as ever). There are contradictory opinions everywhere you look, and sifting through it all can seem like an impossible task.

Cut through all the noise with these 5 minute daily updates from the BBC. This reliable and informative podcast gets straight to the point. It’s great for anyone who doesn’t want to spend a lot of time on the news but just wants to know what’s going on with COVID. It covers the whole global situation too, so there’s no need to google every part of the world to keep informed.

8. The Take

The Take is the perfect show for keeping you in the loop on the biggest global stories. Even if you’re aware of international headlines, understanding all the context around them can be pretty daunting. But it doesn’t have to be. This podcast does a great job of explaining everything clearly and concisely. You’ll realise how interconnected the modern world is, too. Each episode will show you not only what is happening in the rest of the world, but why it should matter to you too.

Each episode is 20-30 minutes and covers one story, with new episodes three times a week.

9. The Daily

The Daily is basically the New York Times, but in podcast form. It covers everything from Cancel Culture to anti-vaccine attitudes. Beautifully edited with great music and relevant audio clips, this show excels at storytelling. It will grab your attention and keep your interest throughout. Your host Micheal Barbaro is a great interviewer too, making sure each question he asks adds clarity to the story.

New episodes every day except Saturday are usually 25-45 minutes, and each one covers one important story.

10. The Bugle

When the world feels dark and scary, you can either cry about it, or you can laugh. The Bugle has chosen to laugh. Join Andy Zaltzman and his guests every week as they make the top global news stories into entertainment. This one’s a UK podcast, but guests include comedians from around the world, so its satire is genuinely international. The Bugle is guaranteed to make you laugh out loud, while reminding you of the top news stories you should know about.

Episodes are around 45 minutes long and come out every Saturday.

Time to Get Informed!

There’s no excuse not to be up to date now! Have a listen and soon you’ll have found your new favourite way to stay on top of the news. Whether you want quick daily updates of the latest headlines, or in depth analysis of the week’s top stories, there’s something for everyone.

There’s a whole lot of variety in this list. But one thing they all have in common is that they’ll leave you feeling more informed about the weird world we live in.

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