Recently, an episode of the TLDR podcast that had raised some controversy was deleted. I’ve spent some time reading various articles about it and tracked down where I could listen to the episode that had been removed. This wasn’t hard to do. Gawker posted an embed of where to find the TLDR episode on Soundcloud in their article about the episode.
Doing so has made me wonder about when, and under what circumstances, should a podcast episode be deleted from the website of the podcast. Clearly, deleting it doesn’t automatically mean it is gone from the internet forever.
A vivid example appears in the Gawker article where the deleted TLDR episode can be listened to. Podcasters shouldn’t assume that deleting a controversial episode, (or even one that was simply “less than stellar”) will make that episode impossible for people to listen to. It’s not really gone, it’s just somewhat less easy to locate than it was before.
Deleting an episode could make people who have never listened to a particular podcast before become interested in seeking out the deleted episode. The implication is that there was something “juicy” in it. Or, maybe they wonder about the “behind the scenes” reasons why the episode was deleted and this causes them to go in search of answers. I’d been unaware of the TLDR podcast until after I started seeing articles about the deletion of one of their episodes.
The episode I’m talking about was episode 45. It was hosted by Meredith Haggerty. She spoke with Amelia Greenhall. The two talked about Vivek Wadhwa (who did not appear in this episode of TLDR). An addendum on the blog post for episode 45 says:
WNYC decided to remove this episode, because it centered on an internet debate about author Vivek Wadhwa and we failed a basic test of fairness: we did not invite him to comment. We are planning a follow-up that will address both the original issue and the ensuing conversation around the removal of the episode. We are keenly aware of the discussion out there and will release the new piece as soon as it is ready.
Should an episode be deleted because it failed to live up to standards that we would expect from journalists? Is that criteria one that all podcasts should adhere to, or just the ones that are “newsy”? I don’t have answers to these questions. What I do know is that this situation is a good example of why podcasters should take a moment to think about the content in their new episode before publishing it for the world to listen to.