While podcasting has become wildly popular on the Internet, the misuse of podcasting may result in the formation of strict rules and regulations.
A Brief Description of Podcasting
A podcast is a compressed, digitally formatted audio file, which is delivered through an RSS feed. Podcasting brings a personal touch to information sharing. The listener can hear the podcaster's vocal intonations, and get a better sense of what he or she is talking about. As such, unlike the blogger, the podcaster does not need to rely on emoticons as a means of clearing up any ambiguities. While this has many positive implications, in situations where the podcasting misuse is evident, the intonations in the podcaster's voice may have some highly negative consequences.
While there are many uses for podcasting, its primary purpose is to share information in a vibrant and dynamic manner. As such, it is used in the classroom, on travel sites, and as a means for musicians to share their work with the general public.
Examples of the Misuse of Podcasting
In looking at the uses of podcasting, the potential for both its benefits and liabilities are obvious. Here are some examples of the misuse of podcasting.
Disinformation, Misinformation and Propaganda
While these three terms are often used interchangeably, there are actually subtle differences between them. Contrary to popular belief, propaganda is actually based on facts. However, the facts are presented in a way that is designed to invoke an emotional response. For example, the 2009 health care reform bill suggests the possibility of "end of life consultations" for senior citizens. A podcast telling people that government death squads will come to the door to kill grandma is an example of propaganda, and thus constitutes a misuse of podcasting.
Misinformation differs from propaganda in that it is not usually distributed with malicious intent. In most cases, the person distributing this information is simply misinformed. Urban legends, such as stories about the colonies of alligators living in New York City are an example of misinformation.
If you want to create an informative podcast, be sure to check the sources of your information before presenting them as facts. Remember, you can delete the written word, but deleting your words from a verbal podcast can be challenging. Gaining professional respect is a primary goal of many podcasters, so be sure to present accurate facts.
Disinformation is the deliberate spreading of false information. It is often used in hate speech. Using hate speech and disinformation in a podcast is not only a misuse; in some cases, it is illegal.
Self Promotion Disguised as Education
While many companies use podcasting as a means of providing information on a specific subject matter, nobody wants to listen to a 20-minute commercial. Even if gaining more customers is the ultimate goal of your podcast, it should still contain informative, usable information, and only a minimal amount of sales pitching.
Illegal Use of Copyrighted Material
If you think that it would be nice to put a musical background on your podcast, think again. Most music has copyright restriction, and cannot be used in podcasts without paying substantial copyright fees. If you need music, consider using Free Music Archive a service that provides free music in exchange for attribution to the artist.
Likewise, you cannot read the script to a copyrighted play without receiving productions rights from the play's publishing company. Scripts that are now in the public domain, such as the works of William Shakespeare are the exception to the rule.