Podcast review: the effects of UpFirst by NPR on my worldview


Lucy Jaffee, Content Editor

How many times have you listened to the news at your house or on the radio? It seems like news coverage is constantly surrounding us whether it be through TV, printed newspapers, tabloids at the grocery store, or radio announcers. Although it sometimes feels as if this information is shoved down our throats, barely any of it is actually retained as news often becomes background noise for our daily routines rather than the main focus. Especially in this day and age where the truth can be so easily manipulated, and journalism has been facing massive backlash, staying educated on topics like world news, politics, and being able to formulate informed opinions is incredibly important for a developing society. However, I consistently find myself unable to hold conversations with my parents about the world, as I don’t deliberately watch or read the news daily, simply because I lack the time. Another facet of journalism that has spurred from this modern age has been the rise of podcasts to spread information. Therefore, I decided to experiment and listen to a daily news podcast every morning for a week to test the effects it would have on my opinions, conversations, and if I felt more intelligent as a result.

The first step in my process was choosing a perfect podcast. I settled on UpFirst by NPR which is available on music streaming services. This podcast was my top choice, as it typically covered American politics as well as a few other major world stories that day—topics that I find people discuss the most. And, UpFirst keeps the stories concise and is only around 15 minutes per episode, making it an ideal choice for someone with a busy schedule. As the podcast is released at 6:00 a.m. Monday through Friday, I was able to finish each episode while getting ready in the morning, making the start of my day feel slightly more productive than my typical morning routine which consists of eating oatmeal and watching Netflix. I found that incorporating an educational aspect to the start of my day caused me to feel more awake and knowledgeable. I felt more awake and observant of how those around me were reacting to the news. Although most teenagers don’t avidly read or watch the news, my parents and other adults I interact with do, so this podcast improved my ability to add my own opinions to conversations relating to politics or world news. Rather than ignoring any conversations relating to politics out of lack of knowledge on the subject or worry I’d look stupid if I pronounced a presidential candidate’s name incorrectly, I began to initiate conversations based on the news I had heard that morning. I was curious about how my friends and family felt regarding these subjects. I experienced a wave of pride when I was already informed about the current events I was covering in my classes and felt like the local expert on each subject even though I had only listened to a six-minute briefing in the morning. Hopefully, my parents enjoyed being grilled about Russian involvement in the election while driving me to school at 7:30 a.m. Especially with the presidential election this coming November, staying current with the political candidates and key debates are incredibly important to understanding our current political state, how it applies to me as an individual, and how to prepare for when I’m old enough to vote. In this upcoming election, there have been many efforts to increase the young generation’s voter turnout- as it’s highly important to have diversity amongst voters.

Listening to UpFirst each morning has significantly increased my curiosity and knowledge about politics and world news, allowing myself to feel more adult-like and in turn, more cultured and smart. I was shocked to learn how much knowledge I had gained after my 15 minute morning listen and the amount I had cultivated by the end of the week. Although I am probably more motivated to listen to the news than most teenagers, I’d highly recommend checking out this podcast or any daily news source.