During the COVID-19 induced lockdown, 9-year-old Leela Sivasankar Prickitt and her 49-year-old journalist mother Lyndee Prickitt created Newsy Pooloozi out of boredom. However, the project turned out to become India's first children's news podcast.
It is a weekly world news podcast for kids. Since the mother-daughter duo believes it to be a pool of news, hence they named it 'Newsy Pooloozi'. It also has kids correspondents from around the world who contribute to the reports. It is hosted by both of them inside the two separate rooms in their own house.
Leela's parents are journalists, so if she wanted to be a part of the conversation, she needed to know the news. When the family was stuck in a Delhi apartment in the lockdown, they thought of doing something innovative. They are currently based in India (Lyndee is American, and Leela was born in England, while her father is an Indian).
"Everyone was cooking in the lockdown, so I got sick of it really quickly so I sent my daughter to the kitchen and asked myself what are we going to do all summer long stuck in a hot Delhi apartment? Leela is a podcast nerd, we both are podcast addicts, we love listening to podcasts," Lyndee told The Logical Indian.
Lyndee believes that most parents try to shield their children from the news as much as possible during the pandemic. There was a protest happening in Delhi, she couldn't see her friends cause they were on the other side of the protest. Then the George Floyd thing happened in America, there was no avoiding the news anymore," she said.
The young kid was seeing her parents get affected by all the news going around and discussing it, Lyndee and her husband had to explain what was going around.
So, all this while, Lyndee gently explained the news to her and asked her daughter if she would want to do a podcast about it.
"I jumped on the sofa, I was so excited I was jumping up and down," the 9-year-old told The Logical Indian.
"We couldn't go visit the world cause of the lockdown, so we decided to bring the world to us with our world news podcast," Lyndee added.
Topics Of Interest
The mother and daughter always start with a big news story. Everything gets covered in the podcast from politics to current affairs to science, animal kingdom, and space stories.
"You can do a lot of science stories, in fact, we call it "Wow" because it is the "World of Wow". So, recently they just found a fossil of a whale with four legs. The comet that is getting too close to the solar system in 10 years' time, that is some exciting stuff too," Lyndee said.
They also try to do pieces on arts or culture or entertainment. Culture includes parties, festivals, parties, letting kids know about different festivals and events like Diwali, Eid, Thanksgiving, hungry ghost festival, etc. They believe it is essential for children to know that all are the same yet different. The podcast also features technology and sports news.
"We also feature a story that keeps you smiling," the little kid said.
From Collecting News To Making Podcast
Lyndee listens to 10 podcasts every day. She listens to the news, reads it, then gives shortlisted stories to her daughter. The duo, then, has an edit meeting to choose which stories to cover. Lyndee then writes them and the two have another script reading meeting. Both then go under the bed and record.
"I know that sounds weird, but it's actually the best sound in the house, under the bed. It's got the carpet down there, it's got material all around it, so you stop the echoes and you get the best sound," Lyndee explained.
"I work into the wee hours on Tuesday night and early Wednesday morning editing it. We do this every week, we are on episode 70, we haven't missed an episode yet and it's just the two of us. It is gruelling, but we love it," she added.
About the project's reach, the mother said that people already love their podcast and think it is beneficial for people aged between five to 25. She said that people in their 60's and 70's also love to listen to it every week.
"I think the thing is, conventional news is stuck in a rut of politics, crime, disaster, and economics. That's all you get. So, I think the conventional media forgets that there are so many other stories out there, and we cover those. So, no wonder though that we actually get a lot of people who aren't children, who also listen to the podcast," she pointed.
Podcasts are wonderful, Lyndee believes, when one is stuck in traffic, making the bed, cleaning the house, or doing dishes. It is an excellent multi-tasking and a bit of scream-free entertainment on education.
"Newsy Jacuzzi' has audiences in Spain, Dubai, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan. However, its biggest reach is in America and India. It also has kids correspondents all over the world and about two dozen active correspondents, most of them in India and America. Three correspondents are in England, one each in Kenya, Taiwan, and Mexico respectively.
"But I go around and look and see who has done a story lately and then decide if we need to call them up. I do like to focus on different regions to make sure every place is covered," Lyndee said.
The journalist said that she is pretty passionate about trying to get other people fired up about news and trying to let people know that news doesn't just have to be politics, economics, and disasters, but it could be many more exciting things. She said that listening to podcasts improves a person's language skills and helps to find big, complicated words.
"We are very inquisitive. And if a kid doesn't know what inquisitive means, we take care to define the big words, so they kind of understand that, we are improving your language skills, and impress your teacher with stuff to talk about," she added.