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April 6, 2007 / Toby Dayton

Slate’s Political Gabfest Stands Atop A New Media World

Yesterday, I highlighted the success that the Washington Post has had over the past decade in developing a more web-centric business model. Today, I’d like to focus on a specific property of the Washington Post, its online news and culture site Slate.com, and specifically its weekly Political Gabfest podcast. Despite all the consternation surrounding the impending death of the daily newspaper, the decline of old-school journalism, and the ramifications for a healthy, functioning democracy, Slate has proven that not only will the fourth estate survive in a post-daily newspaper world, it can thrive. And while one might legitimately argue that Slate’s success and viability is due in large part to the fact that it is owned by the Washington Post, Slate has proven that journalism, in all its myriad forms and styles, can leverage new technologies and formats and succeed in a ‘new media’ world.

And of all of Slate’s columnists, content threads, and new-media formats, none is as entertaining, thought-provoking, informative, and enjoyable as the weekly Political Gabfest. Housed within its daily podcast, which I would also highly recommend, the Political Gabfest is published on Fridays and hosted by Emily Bazelon, John Dickerson, and David Plotz. I could, and might some day, write a solid 5-page article on the show’s appeal, but suffice it to say that of all the media I consume in a given week, and it’s quite a lot, the Political Gabfest would be, without question, the last thing I’d give up if I had to start eliminating media from my life. Not only is the content world-class political commentary, but the personalities of the three hosts and their relationship with each other makes the show an absolute joy to listen to every week. They are smart, insightful, funny, humble, witty, diligent, self-deprecating, and most of all, endearing. If I designed my dream guest-list for a dinner party, the three hosts of the Political Gabfest would be among the top names on my list. And if those three are an indication of what journalism can and should aspire to in a new-media world, we can all rest assured that the empire will not crumble as a result of the decline of the daily newspaper and other forms of traditional media.

Time to read the daily newspaper this morning: 8 minutes and 32 seconds.

Daily recommendation for the daily newspapers: Copy Slate’s Political Gabfest as closely as possible and produce a weekly podcast show focusing on politics and social commentary at a local level. The results will never compare to the real thing, but if newspapers did only half as good a job as Slate’s Political Gabfest, it would still be better than anything most daily newspapers produce.

[tags]Slate.com, Slate Magazine, The Political Gabfest, Emily Bazelon, John Dickerson, David Plotz, New Media, Death of Newspapers, Daily Newspapers, Great Podcasts, Politcal Podcasts, Best Of The Web[/tags]


  1. elisabeth null / Apr 6 2007 9:19 pm

    I couldn;t agree more, Confession: I’m a researcher for John Dickerson and certainly biased. Still, of all the stuff he’s involved with at Slate, I look forward to each week’s Gabfest the most. It feels like cafe life the way it was meant to be.

  2. Spamboy / Jun 22 2007 2:11 pm

    That’s an appropriate assessment of the show’s appeal. Along with being endearing, the hosts often balance each other in terms of their political perspectives, job responsibilities, and not letting each other get away with saying anything unfounded. I also think part of the appeal lies in its once-per-week format — if the Gabfest were broadcast daily M-F, it would not be nearly as fresh and insightful.

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