Since its inception, Twitter has revolutionized journalism, offering readers a real-time feed of bite-sized pieces of information and giving journalists myriad tools to report the news.
Yet Twitter’s capabilities are limited when it comes to audio content. While podcasts have flourished over recent years, they don’t lend themselves to the rapid, real-time environment found on Twitter.
That’s where Anchor comes in.
The new app, available for free on the iPhone, allows anyone to broadcast short audio clips, or “waves,” around the world in mere seconds — an audio version of Twitter, as Columbia Journalism School student Jianghanhan Li put it. And much like Twitter, Anchor offers plenty of ways to engage with listeners.
Rachel Rohr, associate producer of NPR and WBUR’s Here & Now, saw Anchor’s engagement potential put to work in late February, when she recorded a clip with the app that posed a simple question to listeners: “Do you want to hear news on Anchor?”
Over the next week, Rohr’s wave got 250 listens and 40 replies, spurring valuable discussion among users of the app.
“Abso-freaking-lutely,” one listener responded.
Several readers said that while they might not necessarily flock to Anchor for breaking news like they would with Twitter, they would use the app to become part of the conversation taking place around the news.
“It’s exciting to see an audio-based social network emerging,” Rohr told Li. “There’s something very intimate about hearing somebody’s voice; it’s quite personal.”
Recording a wave on Anchor is easy — all it takes is holding your phone to your ear, as if you were talking on the phone. Listeners can interact and respond with their own voices, offering an instant forum for discussion that wasn’t before possible. These conversations between creator and listener can then be produced as podcasts.
In addition to engaging listeners with the news, Anchor can also become a useful resource for journalists in which they ask questions and get responses that can serve as a basis for stories, like Rohr did when she asked readers about which words they discovered they mispronounced.
It closes a loop of communication between journalists and those who read — and listen to — journalism.
“The community is great,” Rohr said. “There is cultural diversity, and geographic diversity. That keeps things very interesting, in the sense that you will be getting different types of responses and different perspectives.”
Main image CC-licensed by Flickr via G. DAWSON.