The Birth of News Beat Podcast

Rashed Mian

Rashed Mian
Published January 24, 2020

Silhouette of fist holding microphone over a red microphone that says

News Beat podcast amplifies our rage, passion, and love for exposing wrongdoing via our old newspaper through microphones, hard-hitting journalism, and original music—shining a much-needed light on social injustices.

A few years ago, we did one of the most difficult things imaginable: We said goodbye to our baby, the award-winning alternative news outlet Long Island Press

For us, the Press was a beacon of justice, the proverbial shining light on top of the hill, the vessel by which we exposed wrongdoings of all cancerous forms. 

Of course, newspapers—and local news outlets especially—are in dire financial straits. More than 1,800 throughout the United States have closed or merged since 2004. Local outlets, in particular, have been crushed by the digital revolution and the fallout from the 2007 recession. Now, vulture capitalists are purchasing newspapers and bleeding them dry.  

Perhaps the most unsettling aspect of this bloodbath is the fact a half-dozen corporations currently own 90 percent of the news outlets in America. Media consolidation all but ensures most Americans will get their information from a handful of corporate entities—whether they know it or not.  

We held out for as long as possible. Before the Press was sold to a Queens-based publisher in 2017—where veteran Press hellraiser Timothy Bolger still carries the torch—we began publishing once a month rather than weekly, and eventually went exclusively digital. We continued to produce award-winning stories, and never betrayed our founding ethos: Give voice to the voiceless. (The Press has since returned to print.)

At the same time, we began punching above our weight, covering stories of not just local, but national significance, including the erosion of civil liberties, perpetual war, and the nation’s egregious attacks on whistleblowers, to name just a few pressing topics. Several of our reporters—now producers of News Beat—were among but a tiny, motley crew of journalists who sat in on whistleblower Chelsea Manning’s court martial in Ft. Meade, Maryland—home of the National Security Agency (NSA).  

News Beat hopes to carry on the tradition of independent journalism that our now-executive producer Jed Morey first established with the Press nearly two decades ago, while continuing to grow as a podcast and media brand.

In hindsight, it was likely the Occupy Wall Street protests that truly changed everything for us. We covered the demonstrations on a near-weekly basis, providing much-needed context about the amorphous, people-powered movement. Our eyes fully open to the omnipresent injustices surrounding us all, we went all in, pursuing stories that no local outlet had business exploring. When we called national activists for their take on the latest miscarriage of justice, we often expected them to ask, “Who the hell is the Long Island Press?” 

Thankfully, most didn’t.

Then the sale happened, and although devastated, we also knew it was the right thing to do. We gave it our all; now it was time for someone else to carry the mantle. But as stubborn journalists, we refused to stop altogether. That’s when we made the transition to podcasting. 

Our publisher, Jed Morey, told us he simply couldn’t wake up each morning and look himself in the mirror knowing he wasn’t doing something to at least try and make this world a better place, make a difference.  

Thus, News Beat was born. 

By leveraging this new and growing medium, we knew we would be able to more impactfully investigate the most critical issues of our time, most especially, America’s broken criminal justice system—and hopefully, spark change. 

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So, What Is News Beat? 

News Beat is an innovative social justice podcast that combines award-winning journalism from our print days with original, independent music. Yes, there are plenty of podcasts that incorporate musical elements to help drive the narrative. But not like this. 

We collaborate with independent hip-hop artists, who create original verses based on the specific topic or issue addressed in each episode. They conduct research and use their talents to weaponize their respective art forms. 

Each episode consists of at least three sections, intermixed with musical interludes. Our sources include experts, fellow journalists, members of academia, firsthand sources, and activists, among others. 

In just a few years, News Beat has been the proud recipient of several journalism awards, most notably “Best Podcast” from the prestigious New York Press Club and national Society of Professional Journalists’ regional chapter, the Press Club of Long Island. 

News Beat podcast has covered a wide range of underreported topics, including the concept of restorative justice; the prison abolition movement; the socioeconomic, and political forces that cause disenfranchised communities to riot; the true meaning of the word Jihad; Jim Crow-era felony disenfranchisement laws; prison rape and the #MeToo movement behind bars; and so much more. 

Honestly, the best way to understand this podcast is simply to listen. There’s truly no other podcast like it. After you’re done, the best way to support us is to leave a rating and review on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or your preferred podcast app. 

News Beat hopes to carry on the tradition of independent journalism that our now-executive producer Jed Morey first established with the Press nearly two decades ago, while continuing to grow as a podcast and media brand. 

In this era of massive consolidation, financial obstacles, and relentless attacks from those in power, independent media is needed now, more than ever

Join us on this mission by subscribing to News Beat.  

News Beat is produced by Manny Faces. Christopher Twarowski serves as editor in chief. Rashed Mian is managing editor. Jed Morey is the executive producer. 

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