UM Law School podcast brings a new approach to news delivery

Photo credit: Hunter Crenian
Photo credit: Hunter Crenian

In a world of instant news, staying informed can be overwhelming. To help, UM Law School recently launched a weekly podcast, the Miami Law Explainer, which aims to make current events easier to digest and understand.

“We’re trying to add context and relevance to what you’re seeing on television news and reading in media outlets,” said Catharine Skipp, Director of Media Relations and Public Affairs at Miami Law.

The podcast focuses on the legal and historical background of current events. Daniel Ravicher, director of UM Law’s Startup Practicum, said there is a wide range of legal nuances that impact people daily.

“Trying to understand almost anything about actions and stories and news has some kind of a legal angle, if not a complete dependency on the legal issues,” said Ravicher, whose program offers legal support to entrepreneurs with new businesses. “As our society is more and more based on laws, regulations and policies, they become more relevant to understanding what’s happening in current events.”

The Miami Law Explainer has covered a gamut of current topics. From discussing the citizenship issue with the 2020 census to covering the 3D gun blueprint dilemma, the Explainer aims to offer an in-depth perspective that cannot be found in the traditional news cycle. Part of the show’s strength, podcast host Annette Hugues said, comes from its reasonable length.

“Options these days for media coverage are either watching the news somewhere or news outlet web pages where the stories can be really long, or Twitter, which can be too short,” said Hugues, who is also the events and conference director of the law school. “With each podcast you’re keeping up with the top headlines in the news in 20 minutes or less.”

While each podcas episode is relatively short, Ravicher said the in-depth podcast can act as a countermeasure to the news apathy and misinformation that has risen from the instant nature of modern digital media.

“There’s been such a need to be the first one out there, to be the first one to break the story, and that’s disincentivized the real work it takes to write a good story,” Ravicher said. “This is helping to fill that void of deep understanding that’s been caused by the ‘speed pressures’ that have been put on the news industry,”

According to Hugues, by featuring experienced faculty, the Miami Law Explainer provides its audience with something other than the surface-level coverage of social media and television-based news.

“We’re tackling the top news headlines one podcast at a time, and our faculty are so fully engaged in their areas of expertise that they can see the big picture and can communicate that in a way that everyone can understand,” Hugues said.

For example, in a future episode, law professor Mary Anne Franks will discuss labor and employment protections for sex workers. Franks has worked as a consultant for companies like Facebook, Twitter and Google on issues of abuse and privacy, and helped draft legislation and advise lawmakers on matters related to online harassment and threats.

Skipp said the podcast is a nice way to introduce people to “really cool” members of the law school. “My goal is to increase our profile and make people aware of the gravitas of the faculty that we have working here,” she said.

According to Skipp, it took everyone’s collective effort to bring the Explainer podcast to reality.

“Everybody had their little piece of the puzzle and we were able to put it together,” Skipp said.

Hugues, a former broadcast reporter, “brought the perfect voice to host the show,” Skipp said, while the podcast’s engineer and editor, Chris Alzati, found the music and works on the sound, and “really gives the show polish.”

The Explainer podcast is currently available on iTunes and SoundCloud, and the Law School is working on expanding to Spotify. Students are encouraged to submit their requests and ideas for future podcasts via the Miami Law Explainer’s Twitter page @UMLawExplainer.