Sunday Review: "The News Agents"
Big name hosts launch an underwhelming new podcast.
“The News Agents” is the podcast resulting from the exodus of talent from the BBC to Global, the company behind radio stations like LBC, Heart and Capital. It is hosted by former “Newsnight” presenter Emily Maitilis, ex-BBC North America Editor Jon Sopel and Lewis Goodall, also formerly of “Newsnight”.
The concept of the show is simple - a daily take on the news from three top journalists. And, on that, it has delivered during its first week. Topics covered included the Mar-a-Lago raid and the Tory leadership contest.
It was a strange decision to start with a US topic on day one though. That first show, in particular, felt a bit chaotic, jumping between guests, discussion and adverts in a rather incoherent way. Things settled a bit as the week went on and the focus was mostly on UK politics. Also in that opening episode was a cringe-inducing, overly-familiar conversation with Anthony "The Mooch" Scaramucci, who served as President Donald Trump’s press secretary for mere days. The more formal conversation with Michael Gove after a Tory hustings event was far better.
The biggest problem though is that the hosts, intentionally or otherwise, feel somewhat dismissive of the whole podcasting medium. A general sense comes across that they are worthy of something bigger and better and it’s all just a bit of a laugh. A hobby. This is odd given that Maitlis and Sopel were on “Americast”, one of the biggest podcasts from the BBC. The banter and in-jokes they clearly feel are a necessary part of a podcast end up feeling rather patronising to the audience. This feeling even comes across from the pun in the name, which nobody under the age of about 35 will get, and the rather naff theme music.
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