The Intelligence: a new medium for geopolitical communication?

By Nick Robinson

During a recently convened tutorial and workshop for 3rd-year undergraduates on the Geopolitics of Media and Communications course, both Alasdair Pinkerton and I worked with students on how to create their own podcast.

Increasingly, podcasts are becoming the new norm for a variety of media outlets (both big and small) as they tap into what is now one of the most effective mediums for broadcasting news, sport, and opinion –  consumed more easily than ever via devices on daily commutes, dog walks or even (as one student told us) whilst trying to sleep.

In truth, the podcasting world has exploded in recent years and with a somewhat saturated market – every major news outlet now boasting multiple different podcasts – how do we keep up? From Brexit to your ongoing true crime binges, it is becoming increasingly difficult to differentiate, concentrate and maintain any form of commitment to your favourite pods.


The BBC’s Brexitcast – “geekly gossip” from the likes of Katya Adler, Adam Flemming, Chris Mason and Laura Kuenssberg in Westminster and Brussels.

We asked students, through a number of short excerpts, to think more critically around the ways in which podcasts are structured, edited and the particular messages and styles they convey. How effectively were they produced? Who is the audience, and are they fully connected? The aforementioned Brexit podcast, with its informal panel-style, provoked discussion around inclusivity/exclusivity for the listener, whilst also being praised for its spontaneity and casual tone amidst the seriousness and diatribe surrounding Brexit.

The session started with an excerpt from The Economist’s new impressive podcast, The Intelligence. Aiming to give you “context and clarity on the stories shaping your world”, The Intelligence does a tremendous job of synthesising 3 important geopolitical stories – or ‘hotspots’ – from around the world in a neat, practicable 20-minute podcast. Students commented on its professionalism through its use of dramatic music, panning explosions and effective editing between presenter, commentators and voice clips.


The Economist’s The Intelligence podcast (

The Intelligence may be a little late to the party it would seem, but I couldn’t recommend it enough for those looking for a bite-sized roundup of many of the world’s ongoing events – at a time where we are overwhelmed with 24hr news cycles, social media scrolling and Brexit fatigue. More importantly, lying in front of The Economist’s own paywall, The Intelligence gives you access to some fantastic journalism whilst bringing you much closer to the stories that often slip through many Western media outlets.

Radio and TV may have long stood tall in being the go-to mediums for communicating geopolitics to a wider audience, but the ubiquity and dynamic nature of the podcast may offer an alternative vehicle to reach and educate entirely new audiences around some of the most critical stories of today.

You can find and subscribe to The Intelligence here.

Nick Robinson is a current PhD student in the CDT for Cyber Security at Royal Holloway, completing his MSc in Geopolitics and Security in 2015. Nick’s research is primarily grounded in Estonia, focusing on the multitude of digital technologies its government have started to employ since the regaining of independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. Exploring initiatives such as Estonian e-Residency, the government’s use of blockchain technology, and now the utilisation of ‘data embassies’, Nick’s work aims to develop a greater understanding of the impact these technologies have on our traditional conceptualisations of the nation-state, border and embassy. He is a member of the editorial team here on the RHUL Geopolitics and Security blog.





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