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What does The New York Times sound like?
I remember this question coming up a couple of years ago in New York with editors who were trying to figure out how The Times should explore audio.
The good news now is that more than one answer has emerged.
To get a sense of what I mean, listen to this week’s New York Times Magazine. It’s the annual voyages issue recast as an audio journey through soundscapes in cities and in outlandishly remote locations worldwide, with interviews to add context.
I admit, it took me a while to find the time to explore it (total listening time is only 30 minutes), but I was grateful when I did. In addition to learning about rat laughter in New York City, I came away with a new appreciation for lava and lemurs, while also revisiting Chile’s crunching and cracking Atacama Desert.
The magazine’s experiment was a clear reminder of just how quickly journalism can evolve. Audio in particular is having a moment. Think podcasts. Think Alexa, Siri and Google Home.
At The Times, our sound has gone from virtually nonexistent to rich, varied and a regular part of what we do.
It’s Michael Barbaro exploring the news every day with colleagues and experts on “The Daily,” our popular podcast in the United States and in Australia, too.
It’s also Rukmini Callimachi clinking dishes in her kitchen and avoiding terrorists in Mosul, Iraq, bringing listeners along while she reports on ISIS for “Caliphate.” (We’ll have more on her and a possible Australia visit in the near future.)
And it’s worth noting we’ve been doing more with music, too: in videos breaking down how pop songs are made and through partnerships with Spotify to provide playlists with, say, our roundup of the most important music of the year.
What all of these aural experiences share, I think, is a commitment to thoughtfulness and the idea that journalism must bend toward creativity.
I can see a similar inclination emerging in the local news media. The Australian has a successful podcast with “Teacher’s Pet,” and despite upheaval at the ABC, I know many journalists there who long to focus not on relations with Canberra but rather on new ways to connect with audiences.
And perhaps not surprisingly, the more I hear, the more I wonder: What might The New York Times do here in Australia with audio?
We’ve been exploring a few ideas with potential partners but I’d love to hear from all of you.
What would Australians and the world like to hear more about from this country or this side of the world — Australia, New Zealand, Asia, maybe the whole southern hemisphere?
Is there a subject, problem or concept you’d want to learn about week after week? Is there a mystery or narrative you’ve experienced or wondered about that reveals more than it seems about this part of the world?
Shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have ideas or suggestions.
In the meantime, here are a few great reads to keep you busy, plus a recommendation to go along with all these fantastic sounds.
Three reads to highlight this week:
1. Jacinda Ardern: New Zealand’s prime minister brought her progressive politics (and her family) to the United Nations this week, so we took a deep look at her first year in office. Is she as popular at home as she is abroad?
2. Australia Fare: This week’s column examines Australia’s beloved salad sandwich, with Besha Rodell arguing that “while American food writing celebrates the tater tot, ranch dressing and Hot Pockets, Australia lets many edible components of its collective childhood slip by, unsung and unexamined.”
3. “Mr. Inbetween”: Scott Ryan’s dark comedy about the divided soul of the 21st century male gets a positive review. The six-episode series was commissioned by FX Australia, based on Mr. Ryan’s own film, “The Magician.”
A rare visit on board a United States Navy surveillance flight over the South China Sea showed how profoundly China has reshaped the security landscape across the region.
The formal back and forth via radio captured in this story also bears a striking resemblance to interactions with Russia during the (last) Cold War.
For two years, many of us have tried to understand the 2016 attack on the American presidential election, with all the spies, leaked emails, social media fraud — and President Trump’s claims that it’s all a hoax.
Two of our best Washington reporters explore what we really know and what it means.
In this brave and heartbreaking Op-Ed, Padma Lakshmi, the author, host and executive producer of “Top Chef,” publicly shares the story of her own sexual assault for the first time, explaining why she kept silent and why the errors of youth must not be brushed aside.
“Some say a man shouldn’t pay a price for an act he committed as a teenager,” she writes, referring to debate in the United States about the sexual assault allegations against Judge Brett Kavanaugh, the Supreme Court nominee. “But the woman pays the price for the rest of her life, and so do the people who love her.”
Or if that fails you and you’re still looking for something fun, read this hilarious scientific account of what octopuses do when researchers give them ecstasy.
… And We Recommend
The New York Times doesn’t just aim to inform your life — we also aspire (sometimes at least) to make your life better.
One way we do that is with Wirecutter, our very-in-depth, borderline-obsessive review site for all kinds of products and services. It’s where I turn when I’m looking to buy electronics in particular, and that includes headphones for all The Times audio efforts mentioned above.
Check out what’s there next time you’re looking for some high-quality ear fun. I chose the budget pick from among these wireless options.
Damien Cave is the new Australia bureau chief for The New York Times. He’s covered more than a dozen countries for The Times, including Mexico, Cuba, Iraq and Lebanon. Follow him on Twitter: @damiencave.