News Over Noise

Exploring the challenge of separating spin and click-bait from good journalism and why it matters

Listen & Subscribe


portrait of Chenjerai Kumanyika
  • Episode 209

Podcasts: News to Your Ears

In 2014, the podcast Serial debuted, sparking a fascination with true-crime reporting and long-form storytelling that continues to this day. Virtually every major news outlet has a podcast as part of their brand, some have multiple series, with each dedicated to a different beat. what is it about this medium that captures our attention? Can this be a place where investigative journalism could find a viable outlet? Hosts Leah Dajches and Matt Jourdan find out by talking with researcher, journalist, and artist Dr. Chenjerai Kumanyika.

Listen to Episode
portrait composite Rachel and Angel
  • Episode 208

Bad Press: The Muskogee Creek Citizens’ Fight to Protect Freedom of the Press

Although the US constitution guarantees the right to a free press, that right does not extend to indigenous nations, who have the sovereignty to make their own laws and constitutions. The documentary Bad Press explores what happens when the Muscogee Creek Nation faces a threat to its free press. Hosts Leah Dajches and Matt Jordan talk with director Rebecca Landsberry-Baker and Angel Ellis, one of the journalists featured in the film.

Listen to Episode
portrait Geoff Dembicki
  • Episode 207

Covering the Cover-up of Climate Change

Climate change was once a bipartisan issue…until it wasn’t. What happened? To find out, hosts Leah Dajches and Matt Jordan talk with Geoff Dembicki, an investigative climate journalist about how fossil fuel companies used the public media system to sew skepticism and cynicism about climate change.

Listen to Episode
portrait Emily Ramshaw
  • Episode 206

Breaking the News to Fix It

Newsroom leadership can make a big difference in what stories are told and how they're covered, and whose voices are elevated. So, what happens when the makeup of those positions is out of alignment with the demographics of the population? On the next episode of News Over Noise, hosts Leah Dajches and Matt Jordan talk with Emily Ramshaw, the CEO and co-founder of The 19th* about what news looks like when it's reported by the nation’s first independent nonprofit newsroom at the intersection of gender, politics and policy.

Listen to Episode
portrait of Enrique Anarte outdoors by a body of water
  • Episode 205

Vertical Journalism: The Future of News?

When you think of TikTok videos, what comes to mind? What about...news? On the next News Over Noise, hosts Leah Dajches and Matt Jordan talk with multimedia journalist Enrique Anarte about how and why he is using Tik Tok to reach a very news averse demographic—and about the implications this type of reporting might have for the future of journalism.

Listen to Episode
portrait Stephanie Edgerly
  • Episode 204

Saving Democracy Through Modeling Healthy News Habits

Younger Americans pay less attention to the news than any other age group. And this is kind of a big deal, since a functioning democracy relies on an informed citizenry. While many news organizations are pinning their hopes on interactive and mobile technologies to try to engage younger audiences, research shows there may be a simpler, lower-tech way to cultivate the next generation of news consumers. In this episode of News Over Noise, hosts Lead Dajches and Matt Jordan with media scholar Stephanie Lynn Edgerly about the concept of news socialization and parent-learning model.

Listen to Episode
portrait Karl Bode outdoors wearing a beanie near a lake in a pine forest with mountains in background
  • Episode 203

When Tech Reporting Needs an Upgrade

It’s hard to go a day without seeing mention of AI. While the technology itself may be groundbreaking, the reporting of it isn’t. News about technology is not new; it’s dominated the front pages for decades, with near constant reporting on the next best thing that will change the world as we know it. And, clearly it has, but not always in a good way. What happens when technology reporting misses the mark and fails to give us the full story? On the next News Over Noise, hosts Leah Dajches and Matt Jordan talk with reporter Karl Bode about what technology reporting has done well and the times it has fallen short and failed to serve the public interest.

Listen to Episode
portrait Jessica Myrick
  • Episode 202

Hope, Helplessness, and Health Misinformation

Ever feel lousy and look up your symptoms on the internet? Sometimes the information you find can hurt as much as it helps. Health misinformation is something we’ve all experienced and our emotions play a big role in how vulnerable we are to it. Subtle differences in wording or the order in which a story is presented to you can make a massive difference in how you respond to it and what actions you take—or don’t take—going forward. On this episode of News Over Noise, hosts Leah Dajches and Matt Jordan talk with media scholar Jess Myrick about what this all means for health reporting and the spread of misinformation.

Listen to Episode
portrait of Will Bunch
  • Episode 201

The Case for Change: How Business-as-Usual Political Reporting Threatens Democracy

The reporting styles and strategies that served us well in the past—in a time when debate and political ads still had the potential to sway voters—are falling short when it comes to conveying the depth of division in our country. By adhering to outdated conventions, media outlets are failing to call out moves towards fascism, violence, and even civil war. In this episode of News Over Noise, hosts Leah Dajches and Matt Jordan talk with Will Bunch, a columnist for the Philadelphia Inquirer, about how business-as-usual political reporting can endanger democracy.

Listen to Episode
United States Media Literacy Week Hosted by NAMLE est. 2015
  • Episode BONUS

U.S. Media Literacy Week Special Edition

In this special U.S. Media Literacy Week edition of News Over Noise, Matt Jordan speaks with NAMLE Executive Director Michelle Ciulla Lipkin and Education Manager Megan Fromm. NAMLE, the National Association for Media Literacy Education unites a community of educators committed to advancing media literacy education and hosts U.S. Media Literacy Week. The mission of U.S. Media Literacy Week is to highlight the power of media literacy education and its essential role in education all across the country. U.S. Media Literacy Week calls attention to media literacy education by bringing together hundreds of partners for events and activities around the country.

Listen to Episode
Headshot James E. Causey
  • Episode 110

Rebuilding Trust Through Solutions Journalism

Do you feel discouraged or even defeated about the state of the world? So much so that you find yourself disengaging? What if we told you that there was another path? That there’s a form of reporting that doesn’t just tell you what's wrong in your community but actively works to empower you to help set it right? On this episode, we talk with James Causey a projects reporter and columnist about solutions journalism and the potential it holds for strengthening democracy.

Listen to Episode
headshot Michael Copps
  • Episode 109

Protecting Public Interest: The Role of Regulation in Media

Who owns the news? Media buyouts and mergers have become so commonplace you might not even realize that your local paper or news station is owned by a massive corporation in some far-off place. You might think, “I’m still getting access to information, so why does diversity in media ownership matter?” To find out, we talk with Michael Copps, a former commissioner for the Federal Communications Commission. 

Listen to Episode
Headshot of Lewis Raven Wallace
  • Episode 108

A Pro-democracy Case Against Objectivity

“My experience is that audiences want us to be truthful and fair, but they don’t want us to be robots.” That’s a quote from a blog post by journalist Lewis Raven Wallace—a post that led to him being fired from Marketplace. Wallace has become an outspoken critique of the notion that “objectivity” is a catchall for accurate journalism. In this episode, we talk with Wallace about the concept of journalistic neutrality and about what can be done to restore some lost public trust in journalism.

Listen to Episode
Headshot of Anand Giridharadas
  • Episode 107

Overcoming Pride and Prejudice Through Persuasion

How do you respond when someone disagrees with you? If you’re like many Americans, you probably end the conversation and write them off. And who can blame you when debates are frequently framed as moralistic disputes between the righteous and the enemy? But what's the cost of walking away instead of making an effort to engage? We find out by talking with best-selling author Anand Giridharadas.

Listen to Episode
Headshot Joan Donovan
  • Episode 106

Trolling the News in an Attention Economy

Terms like trolls and butterfly attacks sound like something out of a childhood fable. Unfortunately, in the digital information landscape, these terms represent very real tactics that can have devastating effects on democracy. What are these bad-actors are trying to accomplish? And, how can you protect yourself from becoming prey to their malicious schemes? To find out, we talk with Dr. Joan Donovan, one of the leading experts on media manipulation, and disinformation campaigns, and online extremism.

Listen to Episode
Headshot of Annie Wu
  • Episode 105

Social Media: Friend or Foe to the News Cycle?

Social media often gets a bad rap, but it plays an undeniably critical role in today’s media landscape. With younger people increasingly opting to get their information from platforms like TikTok instead of traditional news sources, its significance is only likely to increase. On this episode, we talk with journalist, activist, and social media strategist Annie Wu about the power of social media to drive the agenda when it comes to news, politics, and public opinion.

Listen to Episode
Headshot of Homero Gil de Zúñiga
  • Episode 104

The Danger of the "News Finds Me" Mentality

Most Americans get their information fed to them through their smartphones. Constant bombardment and easy access to headlines, video clips, and sound bites help create the illusion that we are well-informed about the goings-on of our world. But...are we? In this episode, we explore what the News Finds Me mentality is, how it impacts civic engagement, and why it might be leaving us less informed than we realize.

Listen to Episode
Headshot of Bob Frick
  • Episode 103

What’s Missing From Economic News?

Whether your eyelids get heavy at the mere mention of an economic story or you're a seasoned economic news consumer and want to know how you can find reliable, quality reporting, this is a discussion for you. We talk with Bob Frick, Navy Federal’s Corporate Economist, about what makes for quality—and not so quality—economic reporting and how you can tell the difference. We also discuss how you cut through the buzzwords and vague characterizations to get to the bottom of what’s actually going on.

Listen to Episode
Headshot of Tim Lambert
  • Episode 102

What Happened to Local News?

When people consume quality local journalism they vote more, get more engaged in their community, and trust each other more. Guest Tim Lambert, the Multimedia News Director at WITF, discusses the implications of what happens when local news outlets start disappearing and offers some tips on how to evaluate the credibility of the news you consume.

Listen to Episode
Headshot of Kirsten Eddy
  • Episode 101

News Avoidance and Why It Matters

On this episode, we delve into news avoidance, what it is, and why it matters. We also offer some strategies for how to overcome your own reluctance to engage with journalism.

Listen to Episode

About News Over Noise

Headshot of Leah Dajches

Leah Dajches, Ph.D.

Leah is a postdoctoral scholar at Pennsylvania State University working on the News Literacy Initiative and host of the podcast News Over Noise. Her research focuses on media representation, effects, and literacy as it relates to adolescent development and marginalized group experiences. In particular, Leah is interested in understanding the role of entertainment media and fandom in various components of identity development. Her research has been published in top-tier journals such as Health Communication, Journal of Children and Media, Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, and Psychology of Popular Media, among others.

Headshot of Matt Jordan

Matt Jordan, Ph.D.

Matt is head of the Department of Film Production and Media Studies in the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications at Penn State University, and Director of the News Literacy Initiative. He is host of the podcast News Over Noise. He writes and teaches classes about how today’s media systems have been altered by digital technology and what it means for democracy. He is executive producer of the documentary series HumIn Focus and author of dozens of articles and books on popular culture in America and Europe. His latest book is Danger Sound Klaxon! The Horn that Changed History.

News Over Noise logo

News Over Noise is produced by the Penn State, Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications and WPSU. This program has been funded by the office of the Executive Vice President and Provost of Penn State and is part of the Penn State News Literacy Initiative.