New York Times ‘The Daily’ host Michael Barbaro talks media transparency in UI visit

The podcast host emphasized that daily news podcasts, such as “The Daily,” are helping rebuild trust in the media.


Avi Lapchick

Michael Barbaro, host of the New York Times’ podcast, The Daily, delivers a presentation in the Main Lounge at the Iowa Memorial Union in Iowa City, Iowa on Wednesday, March 8th.

Sabine Martin, Managing Editor

The New York Times created “The Daily” podcast in a time of uncertainty when Americans were reportedly losing trust in the media.   

Since its creation in 2017,The Daily” podcast host Michael Barbaro said news podcasts are helping rebuild trust in the media. Barbaro spoke at the University of Iowa Iowa Memorial Union Wednesday as a UI Lecture Committee guest. 

Barbaro told an auditorium of people Wednesday night that the idea that people don’t trust the media wasn’t an “urgent pants-on-fire kind of crisis” when he started working in journalism over 20 years ago. 

“That’s not where we are today. We had no idea how good we had,” he said. “Where we are today is that distrust in the media is an absolute existential threat to the profession.”

Barbaro noted in his presentation that by the end of former President Donald Trump’s presidency, 47 percent of Republicans answered that it is more accurate to describe news media as an enemy of the people than to say that the media is part of democracy. 

Trump tweeted in 2017 that the news media is an “enemy of the American people,” Barbaro said. 

The phrase “enemy of the people”  was first used in the French Revolution to describe the people who had betrayed the Republic, Barbaro said. 

Barbaro said “The Daily” was created in response to a decrease in trust in the media.

Barbaro and “The Daily” team made sure the podcast was not a “voice of God for the news media” to make it more relatable for listeners and build trust. 

“The entire show in our minds had to be constructed around the idea that there was a problem,” he said. “People didn’t trust the media. They didn’t trust what we were saying. Something had been broken, and could we use the show to try to fix that.” 

Another way “The Daily” builds listener trust is through transparency. Barbaro said the podcast mixes raw, unpolished realities of a conversation and puts it into the show’s guests’ storytelling. He said unedited conversations rarely make it into a broadcast. 

New York Times reporter Michael Schmidt, who covers national security, was one of Barbaro’s most memorable interviews on “The Daily.” Schmidt was a guest on an episode about an FBI investigation into whether Trump’s involvement with the Russian government. Barbaro said his interview with Schmidt allowed readers to know his knowledge as the reporter on the issue and how he reported the story.  

“It’s no longer just a one-dimensional story on the page,” Barbaro said. “I think all those things together are what start to build trust in what we’re doing.” 

Since the creation of “The Daily,” Barbaro said news media, such as The Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, CNN, and others, have started their own daily news podcasts. Barbaro said news organizations establish daily news podcasts because they realized they can transform journalism for the better. 

“I think there’s a reasonably good chance that you know, in 50 years, we’ll look back and hope that this was the start of something meaningful in terms of repairing that truly tattered fabric of trust in the news media,” Barbaro said.