In recent years there’s been a spike in the popularity of crime documentaries such as Netflix Originals “Making a Murderer” and the “Ted Bundy Tapes.
The crime genre is also popular in podcasts genre. Among the top crime podcasts are “Serial,” “Dirty John,” “Dr. Death,” and “Monster.”
Podcasts have opened a new world for investigative journalism. The platform allows journalists to spend months diving into a specific case or subject matter.
In the instance of a podcast “Up and Vanished,” documentarian Payne Lindsey was able to investigate the cold case of a teacher, Tara Grinstead, that had gone missing from her home in 2005. Lindsey was able to bring attention to this case and launch an investigation which ultimately ended up in the case being solved.
One of the original long form, true crime podcasts is Serial which investigated a 1999 murder of an 18-year-old student, Hae Min Lee.
The host, Sarah Koenig, did her own investigation interviews of former friends of Hae Min Lee, testing out theories about phone records, and even tracking the steps the convicted killer took to see if the timeline of the murder checked out.
Podcasts have given journalists, documentarians and anyone interested in storytelling the ability to launch full investigations into stories that would’ve otherwise been a single article in a newspaper.
Something that was created for pure entertainment value can become educational and even find answers that have been buried for years.
People that oppose crime podcasts see the genre as tasteless in the way that they trivialize murder and horrific accidents by dramatizing them the podcast “Dr. Death” is one podcast that ran into criticism due to its dramatization of the subject matter.
The story is of a Dallas based neurosurgeon that maimed and killed over 30 patients. Viewers found the way the incidents and even the logo of the show quite tasteless.
They felt the logo made it seem like a horror film and that the ads were distasteful because they tried to make them relatable by referencing things that happened in the story, but for some listeners it came across as offensive.
What most people must realize is that the podcasts are dramatized so that people will be interested and listen. The hosts and production teams are attempting to make a living, so they’re going to draw people in any way they can.
Many documentaries and docuseries dramatize certain events because people love drama and shocking, true stories.
Despite the fact that some people find true crime podcasts to be trivializing the genre is continuing to grow and become more popular.
Podcasts provide an up close and personal experience that engrosses the listener by sharing the dark secrets they uncover as their ongoing investigation unfolds.
The popularity of investigative journalism podcasts is happening at a time where many print newspapers are dying off. While sad, investigative journalism has found new life within the crime podcast genre.