‘From students, for students’: Students create podcast to inform about international events


Maddie Barron

Emerson students can listen in to “The Round Room” podcast to be informed about international news by their peers, Monica Rivera Sosa and Natalie Vasileff.

By Maddie Khaw, Assistant News Editor

When Monica Rivera Sosa first moved to the mainland United States from Puerto Rico, she noticed that people around her didn’t seem to talk or care much about events happening in other countries—or even in U.S. territories.

“I was very outspoken about issues that matter to me, not just in the U.S. but outside [of it],” said the first-year political communications major. “I could see what was going on around me to my friends from other countries, and no one would really care.”

Rivera Sosa’s experience sparked her to think about ways to keep her peers informed of current events, not just in the United States, but abroad. She came up with the concept during the beginning of the pandemic in 2020, but it didn’t come to fruition until her first semester at Emerson. 

It was through Common Collective, a campus organization focused on communication and content creation, that Rivera Sosa met senior journalism major Natalie Vasileff. The two collaborated to create and co-host “The Round Room” podcast, which delivers contextualized information about international current events to Emerson students.

“We like to give background on the situation in a country or specific area, and the current issue that we feel everyone needs to know about that’s not necessarily being covered as intensely as it should be in the media,” Rivera Sosa said. “It’s not politically biased, it doesn’t have a political agenda … We like to call it news, but it’s more context-based current events.”

Rivera Sosa and Vasileff said they aim to convey information in a “bite-sized” format that is digestible for Emerson students who lead busy lives, with episodes ranging from eight to 15 minutes in length. 

“We feel like it can be very hard to understand international news topics, especially when you’re a student, because you have so much going on,” Vasileff said. “So we wanted to follow the format of being able to listen to something in between classes … being able to consume it very quickly, but also to be able to understand it.”

The co-hosts hope to make their news accessible by creating episodes that are not only short in length, but also clear in content by using “language that comes from students, for students,” Vasileff said, “so that anyone would be able to understand it without being confused, while still being educated and getting the proper background that they need.” 

Like her co-host, Vasileff was inspired to cover global news by her own international experiences, having grown up in Moscow, Russia before moving to the U.S. in 2013. Vasileff said the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and the international coverage of the ensuing war, illuminated the realities of news censorship for her.

“Ever since the war started, that has allowed me to understand more about how news censorship works, [and] how censored the place I grew up in really was,” she said. “The duality of seeing the conflict from both sides is really jarring to me.”

Rivera Sosa said that because she and Vasileff “shared experiences with news censorship and being from these marginalized communities,” they were able to quickly connect with each other over the importance of international awareness and a passion for helping others be informed.

The co-hosts produced their first episode in November, focusing on the women-led protests in Iran that emerged last fall following the death of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini. Since then, they’ve published two more episodes about Haiti’s relationship with the U.S. and the human rights violations surrounding the FIFA World Cup in Qatar.

Rivera Sosa and Vasileff are currently working on their fourth episode, about the political protests taking place in Peru. In addition to the two co-hosts, the podcast’s team is composed of senior sports communication major Oliver Glass, who edits the audio, and first-year journalism major Maddie Barron, who works on the show’s social media and marketing. Barron is also a Beacon staff member.

“Everyone on our team has this passion for knowing what’s going on and staying informed,” Rivera Sosa said.

She added that they are looking to hire more writers and researchers in coming weeks, which would help them produce episodes more frequently. While the team hopes to expedite their producing process in order to create episodes more often, they aren’t focused on accumulating mass amounts of listeners or internet followers.

“We may not be viral, we may not have a million followers, but just [for] the people that care enough to be informed, having that space … is really great,” she said. “I would like the Emerson community to know about us and to see that we’re here and we’re a good source for information.”

Both Rivera Sosa and Vasileff hope to pursue careers in international news, and said that creating “The Round Room” has helped them practice the skills needed to do so. Even more motivating than their personal pursuits, however, is a desire to help inform others.

“What keeps us going is just wanting to talk about issues that are important and knowing that other people should be informed,” Vasileff said. “I would like to leave Emerson knowing that I made an impact on our community by creating a really good, reliable source of news for international events with context.”