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How The New York Times got The Daily to 20 million downloads

When Lisa Tobin arrived at The New York Times nearly seven months ago, she had a broad mission: Figure out what the newspaper was supposed to sound like.

Her new podcast, which serves up a daily blend of reporting and headlines with a narrative twist, has been a hit. On April 14, less than three months after its February debut, The Daily had been downloaded and streamed a combined 20 million times. It’s rocketed into the iTunes stratosphere alongside competitors including “Up and Vanished,” “Stuff You Should Know” and “The Bernie Sanders Show.”

The secret to the podcast’s success is twofold, Tobin said. Because The Daily is produced within The New York Times, with its global newsroom of more than 1,000 journalists, producers have an inside track on which stories will dominate the next day’s conversation. Because the team is comprised of outsiders — producers from public radio and podcasts, mostly — it’s had the benefit of a newcomer’s perspective and the freedom to operate as a startup within a much larger organization.

“We realized fairly quickly with that show that we could draw on The New York Times newsroom, which is an incredibly powerful journalistic engine,” Tobin said. “And that seems somewhat obvious, but tapping in that with audio, it became clear that one of the main distinctions of The New York Times is that newsroom and its journalists.”

The format of The Daily, which is published weekday mornings, is fairly simple. There’s usually one or two deeply reported, contextual stories du jour, guided by host Barbaro and an expert guest from The New York Times newsroom

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