"we're talking about a real event in someone's life that happened"
November 15, 2019 1:24 PM   Subscribe

The Problem With Crime Junkie Indianapolis-based Crime Junkie, one of the hottest podcasts in the country, has built a seven-figure business telling stories about true crime. Too bad the tales aren’t their own. [Indianapolis Monthly]
posted by readinghippo (58 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
 
Gross.
posted by Big Al 8000 at 1:43 PM on November 15, 2019


There seem to be some legitimate objections sprinkled in along with a misunderstanding of what True Crime podcasts (and other forms of entertainment are).

I don't listen to Crime Junkie, but I've listened to a few episodes of My Favorite Murder, and the format's basically a re-telling to one's best friend (and the audience). We have plenty of entertainment where people are talking about what happened on the latest episode of ___, except this is discussing events that happened in real life. Not all political commentary is news, not all murder commentary is journalism.

If people are literally reciting paragraphs of articles wholesale, maybe that's plagiarism, but re-telling a story...eh? Is it tasteful? That's tough, too. Maybe someone's murder shouldn't be someone else's entertainment.

By about 2/3 of the way through the article, I started skimming, because it seemed like a lot of the objections were about journalistic integrity, and these folks aren't journalists, they're entertainers.
posted by explosion at 1:46 PM on November 15, 2019 [4 favorites]


If people are literally reciting paragraphs of articles wholesale

In the case of My Favorite Murder, at least: they are. After about 100 episodes they started at least mentioning sources, but they still (last I listened to, some time back), are frequently are just taking whole paragraphs from multiple articles.
posted by tocts at 1:56 PM on November 15, 2019 [5 favorites]


What's gross is that folks have decided to single out CJ on this issue without extending that same criticism to the HUNDREDS of other true crime podcasts that do the exact.same.thing. Where is the criticism of MFM? What about True Crime Garage? True Crime All the Time? Etc etc etc.

The objection that a true crime podcast doesn't adhere to rigorous journalistic standards is a ridiculous and tone deaf criticism.

Should they be more transparent? For sure. Is this also about one particular beef of one particular journalist? Yep. Is this also about some sexist shit because this guy has decided he hates Ashley Flowers? For sure.

Also has this guy never read a popular non-fiction book? You know, the kind that states a bunch of facts but never cites anything?

CJ did a few perhaps particularly egregious things. They been better about saying during the show where things are coming from, which is more than a lot of other podcasts do, and which this guy doesn't seem to care much about.
posted by Lutoslawski at 1:57 PM on November 15, 2019 [8 favorites]


By about 2/3 of the way through the article, I started skimming, because it seemed like a lot of the objections were about journalistic integrity, and these folks aren't journalists, they're entertainers.

When the cops start using you to shape the public narrative of an investigation it's time to start examining your ethical obligations.
posted by Cezar Golescu at 1:58 PM on November 15, 2019 [47 favorites]


The real crime is the true crime podcasts we binged along the way.
posted by GenjiandProust at 2:02 PM on November 15, 2019 [22 favorites]


I don't know about the 'not your story to tell' angle, but these podcasts can be pretty uncomfortable at times. Mostly because the hosts rarely exercise restraint or good judgment in talking about this stuff, the lives of real people. The only one I've been able to listen to is Small Town Dicks (I didn't name it...) where the woman who voices Lisa Simpson interviews detectives about cases they worked on. They don't use real names, and they tell listeners at the top of the show not to reveal identities if they already know about the case. Of course you only get the perspective of cops, but that's probably better than two randos gossiping about articles they found on the internet.
posted by mammal at 2:36 PM on November 15, 2019 [12 favorites]


I lump these podcasts in with Forensic Files or Unsolved Mysteries.
posted by grumpybear69 at 2:36 PM on November 15, 2019


At least Crime Junkie's title doesn't make my skin crawl the way My Favorite Murder does.
posted by Flannery Culp at 2:53 PM on November 15, 2019 [2 favorites]


Are there any True Crime website/podcast etc. that's not breathlessly cop cheerleading? That shit gets old fast.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 3:04 PM on November 15, 2019 [8 favorites]


The idea that the author is unfairly picking on the Crime Junkie podcast out of the myriad of true-crime podcasts out there strikes me as odd because a)the podcast in question is one of the most popular in the medium and b)the author, subjects, and publisher are all in Indiana, so there is a definite common local interest.

As understand it, the two women are running a business that is profiting seven figures a year. They’re using the work of others without attribution, much less permission or compensation and they occasionally structure their stories to implicate innocent people in order to produce “Full. Body. Chills.” While I agree that doesn’t mean they must adhere to journalistic standards, there are most definitely some legal and ethical failings on their part.

They may have started out as two friends telling scary stories to their friends but it seems that some serious consideration to how they ethically profit off the suffering of others is well overdue.
posted by Big Al 8000 at 3:09 PM on November 15, 2019 [47 favorites]


What's gross is that folks have decided to single out CJ on this issue without extending that same criticism to the HUNDREDS of other true crime podcasts that do the exact.same.thing. Where is the criticism of MFM? What about True Crime Garage? True Crime All the Time? Etc etc etc.

It's an article in Indianapolis Monthly, about an Indianapolis-based media entity. Not sure why that's gross.
posted by palomar at 3:10 PM on November 15, 2019 [29 favorites]


After about 100 episodes they started at least mentioning sources, but they still (last I listened to, some time back), are frequently are just taking whole paragraphs from multiple articles.

The norm for podcasts like this in my experience is to mention books and sources for major articles used for sources in show notes, making it clear where you can read for more context if you want later. I don't listen to Crime Junkie, but I do listen to other true crime podcasts, and it's common for podcasts to mention and explicitly encourage listeners to seek out sources used to do research (Last Podcast on the Left) or to include citations of the articles or books read in the show notes (Scam Goddess) or both (Behind the Bastards). If Crime Junkie isn't attributing the articles used in each show in those show notes, that really is plagiarism and it is (and should be) unusual. But it's much more citations than are usually provided in true crime television shows like, say, Deadly Women, whether or not they involve much in the way of original reporting.

The Dalton thing is also troubling, but I don't think it's the fault of Flowers that Sgt Dalton chose to share classified materials with her unlawfully. That's an issue for any member of law enforcement working with an entertainment division, and god knows this is specific neither to podcasts nor to true crime workers.

IDK, this feels a little like singling out one particular (possibly unexceptional?) example of a huge industry and acting like it's personally responsible for every single sin of the whole.
posted by sciatrix at 3:17 PM on November 15, 2019 [1 favorite]


Are there any True Crime website/podcast etc. that's not breathlessly cop cheerleading?

I would recommend In The Dark, which specifically focuses on difficult cases where law enforcement did not do well.
posted by tocts at 3:24 PM on November 15, 2019 [21 favorites]


toct's comment above is when I finally realized that I was confusing this true crime podcast that has been called out for plagiarism/lifting whole paragraphs with another true crime podcast that had also been called out for plagiarism/lifting whole paragraphs. When you have a large platform and are telling someone else's story, I think saying you're not a journalist is a bs cover wrt ethics.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 3:33 PM on November 15, 2019 [3 favorites]


Are there any True Crime website/podcast etc. that's not breathlessly cop cheerleading?

CBC's Uncover: The Village steps back from the murders that are the original focus to look more widely at the homophobia and incompetence -- past and present -- of the Toronto Police Service.

Thunder Bay looks very critically at the ridiculous and racist shitshows that are the Thunder Bay Police Service and Thunder Bay's city council.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 3:34 PM on November 15, 2019 [19 favorites]


In the case of My Favorite Murder, at least: they are. After about 100 episodes they started at least mentioning sources, but they still (last I listened to, some time back), are frequently are just taking whole paragraphs from multiple articles.

I recall it being a big deal here when The Dollop got called out for doing this. (In that case the guy who was plagiarized laid out his side of the story on MeFi). Apparently they got into some trouble about this again a little while ago and then finally started citing the sources on the episode instead of just posting the links on a website - which is great because it's all they really needed to do from the beginning but it shouldn't really take that long for podcast people to figure it out.

Anyway it's a legitimate issue and apparently a very common one, though I did think something about the tone of this article was a little weird.

(The is all apart from the other ethical questions about true crime as a genre.)
posted by atoxyl at 3:36 PM on November 15, 2019 [3 favorites]


What's gross is that folks have decided to single out CJ on this issue without extending that same criticism to the HUNDREDS of other true crime podcasts that do the exact.same.thing. Where is the criticism of MFM? What about True Crime Garage? True Crime All the Time? Etc etc etc.

IDK, this feels a little like singling out one particular (possibly unexceptional?) example of a huge industry and acting like it's personally responsible for every single sin of the whole.


Crime Junkies is the single most popular podcast in the genre. It's also local to the writer and their publication. Would it be off limits and "singling out" for a Seattle-based magazine to look at malfeasance within corporate coffee chains by analyzing Starbucks?

It seems odd to me the implication from a number of people here that the only acceptable way to report on a media product is if you comprehensively analyze the entire genre. Would it be problematic to write a review saying that the latest Spiderman movie lacks stakes in the final battle because of bad/excessive CGI without discussing all the other superhero movies of the past 20 years, even though many of them have the same problem?
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 3:47 PM on November 15, 2019 [13 favorites]


Are there any True Crime website/podcast etc. that's not breathlessly cop cheerleading? That shit gets old fast.

I highly recommend Buried Truths and White Lies. Both are done by real journalists investigating Civil Rights era cold cases. The cops are definitely not the heroes.
posted by hydropsyche at 3:53 PM on November 15, 2019 [21 favorites]


I think saying you're not a journalist is a bs cover wrt ethics.

It's also not as if journalists are the only people who can be accused of plagiarism, or are expected to have basic human decency. I bet if I started a true crime podcast that cribbed from theirs for every episode they'd be sending me a cease and desist letter tout de suite.
posted by axiom at 3:59 PM on November 15, 2019 [9 favorites]


I guess it's not a fair world. Victims get Go Fund Me campaigns to cover funerals, parasites get book deals.
posted by Pembquist at 4:05 PM on November 15, 2019 [6 favorites]


CBC's Uncover: Escaping NXIVM, about that MLM/sex cult, is also excellent.
posted by factory123 at 4:16 PM on November 15, 2019 [9 favorites]


I think saying you're not a journalist is a bs cover wrt ethics

This is why I stopped listening to My Favorite Murder. I first listened when they'd done less than a dozen episodes, and stopped somewhere around 120 or 130. They've done 200 or more at this point, depending on how you count some special episodes, etc.

At the start, I was willing to take their "we're just amateurs, we totally mess up" stance as ... I don't know. At the very least, self reflective enough that I gave them the benefit of the doubt. However, over time, it became clear that even if that had been true at the start, that stance -- that they're not journalists, that they mess up and learn from it, that they call themselves out on it -- had become not self-deprecating humor, but a way to silence critics. It was no longer, "ha ha we were dumb" -- it was, "we minimally acknowledged it so we don't want to hear about it".

Worse, not only do they frequently just crib whole stories from 3rd parties, about half their episodes are "mini-sodes" where they read stuff sent by fans. Now, fan engagement is great, but this means that about half of what they put out (and get paid quite a bit for) is them reading un-vetted stories from whoever emails them. These stories frequently include names of towns and names of people involved (whether suspects, victims, etc), and are just literally read aloud and not questioned.

It's bad enough when they start a show by admitting that the thing they're going to talk about for 45 minutes they just researched the night before and are more or less reading news stories aloud to get through. It's a lot worse when they're making a paycheck reading un-verified rumors or remembered crimes from millions of listeners and doing literally no fact checking in the least.

It's tough. I find true crime stories fascinating. I have listened to a lot of audio and read a lot of books about it. However, I am more and more finding myself uncomfortable with how a lot of podcasts operate, particularly the "friends sit around and talk about a crime" ones.
posted by tocts at 4:18 PM on November 15, 2019 [14 favorites]


It turns out the true crimes were the crimes of the podcasts we listened to along the way.
posted by srboisvert at 4:19 PM on November 15, 2019 [16 favorites]


I've been listening to Swindled which is less about gristly murders and more about cons and cheats.
posted by vespabelle at 5:34 PM on November 15, 2019 [10 favorites]


these folks aren't journalists, they're entertainers

If you are providing factual information about current events, you will be held to the same journalistic and, probably more importantly, legal standards as everyone else. Implying that someone is a criminal is defamatory in many jurisdictions, and, while the US as a whole has pretty relaxed defamation laws, various forms of more or less legitimate libel tourism are far from unknown, particularly when the people committing the tort (as they surely will when someone they have implied is a child killer is exonerated) have suddenly got a bit of money.

"We're not journalists, we're entertainers" isn't a defence to libel. I can only imagine that at least some of their listeners are hungry lawyers taking notes of potentially actionable statements: I would be, if it were my field.
posted by howfar at 5:39 PM on November 15, 2019 [6 favorites]


and that comment may not paint me in the best light ever but hey at least there's still someone for true crime podcasters to feel morally superior to
posted by howfar at 5:43 PM on November 15, 2019 [3 favorites]


In 1999, I was pretty much down with "Information wants to be free," but in 2019, "Information wants to be free, but needs to be attributed" is closer to where I have landed.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 5:57 PM on November 15, 2019 [16 favorites]


I feel like if this type of crime were to happen to me and some "entertainers" were making big bucks off of gossiping about my misfortune I would feel like you can either help me (help me get justice or send me some of those big bucks, whichever) or keep my name out of your mouth.
posted by bleep at 5:59 PM on November 15, 2019 [16 favorites]


I mean there's not one but two senses in which these stories are not their own.
posted by bleep at 6:12 PM on November 15, 2019 [4 favorites]


help me get justice

I understand the urge to want this sort of programming to do good, given the undeniable attraction and ickiness of the enterprise, but I don't think that the pursuit of individual justice in specific investigations is a good role for entertainment. The horribly blurred lines that result from engaging in current events reporting while holding oneself free from journalistic standards is, after all, a major problem with this sort of thing in the first place.

It's important to recognise that, while from a consumer perspective journalistic ethics exist to protect the public from bad reporting, they also exist to protect journalists from making career ending or financially ruinous decisions. Like any code of professional ethics, these are functional safety standards for doing the job. Entertainment gets to ignore journalistic ethics by not doing the risky things that journalism involves, like making factual statements about anyone who might reasonably object to them. Doing that without following an appropriate code of ethics because you're an entertainer is a bit like operating heavy machine tools drunk because you're at a party.
posted by howfar at 6:40 PM on November 15, 2019 [3 favorites]


folks aren't journalists, they're entertainers.
posted by explosion at 1:46 PM on Nov


yikes, that is how we got fox news and CNN, and now the reality TV president extorting the Ukranian president to campaign for him on CNN

i mean that's hyperbolic but this is a bad reason to not have ethics

lets review, shall we? these are just good rules for humans, really

Seek Truth and Report It

Ethical journalism should be accurate and fair. Journalists should be honest and courageous in gathering, reporting and interpreting information.

Journalists should:

– Take responsibility for the accuracy of their work. Verify information before releasing it. Use original sources whenever possible.
– Remember that neither speed nor format excuses inaccuracy.
– Provide context. Take special care not to misrepresent or oversimplify in promoting, previewing or summarizing a story.
– Gather, update and correct information throughout the life of a news story.
– Be cautious when making promises, but keep the promises they make.
– Identify sources clearly. The public is entitled to as much information as possible to judge the reliability and motivations of sources.
– Consider sources’ motives before promising anonymity. Reserve anonymity for sources who may face danger, retribution or other harm, and have information that cannot be obtained elsewhere. Explain why anonymity was granted.
– Diligently seek subjects of news coverage to allow them to respond to criticism or allegations of wrongdoing.
– Avoid undercover or other surreptitious methods of gathering information unless traditional, open methods will not yield information vital to the public.
– Be vigilant and courageous about holding those with power accountable. Give voice to the voiceless.
– Support the open and civil exchange of views, even views they find repugnant.
– Recognize a special obligation to serve as watchdogs over public affairs and government. Seek to ensure that the public’s business is conducted in the open, and that public records are open to all.
– Provide access to source material when it is relevant and appropriate.
– Boldly tell the story of the diversity and magnitude of the human experience. Seek sources whose voices we seldom hear.
– Avoid stereotyping. Journalists should examine the ways their values and experiences may shape their reporting.
– Label advocacy and commentary.
– Never deliberately distort facts or context, including visual information. Clearly label illustrations and re-enactments.
– Never plagiarize. Always attribute.

Minimize Harm

Ethical journalism treats sources, subjects, colleagues and members of the public as human beings deserving of respect.

Journalists should:
– Balance the public’s need for information against potential harm or discomfort. Pursuit of the news is not a license for arrogance or undue intrusiveness.
– Show compassion for those who may be affected by news coverage. Use heightened sensitivity when dealing with juveniles, victims of sex crimes, and sources or subjects who are inexperienced or unable to give consent. Consider cultural differences in approach and treatment.
– Recognize that legal access to information differs from an ethical justification to publish or broadcast.
– Realize that private people have a greater right to control information about themselves than public figures and others who seek power, influence or attention. Weigh the consequences of publishing or broadcasting personal information.
– Avoid pandering to lurid curiosity, even if others do.
– Balance a suspect’s right to a fair trial with the public’s right to know. Consider the implications of identifying criminal suspects before they face legal charges.
– Consider the long-term implications of the extended reach and permanence of publication. Provide updated and more complete information as appropriate.

Act Independently

The highest and primary obligation of ethical journalism is to serve the public.

Journalists should:
– Avoid conflicts of interest, real or perceived. Disclose unavoidable conflicts.
– Refuse gifts, favors, fees, free travel and special treatment, and avoid political and other outside activities that may compromise integrity or impartiality, or may damage credibility.
– Be wary of sources offering information for favors or money; do not pay for access to news. Identify content provided by outside sources, whether paid or not.
– Deny favored treatment to advertisers, donors or any other special interests, and resist internal and external pressure to influence coverage.
– Distinguish news from advertising and shun hybrids that blur the lines between the two. Prominently label sponsored content.

Be Accountable and Transparent

Ethical journalism means taking responsibility for one’s work and explaining one’s decisions to the public.

Journalists should:
– Explain ethical choices and processes to audiences. Encourage a civil dialogue with the public about journalistic practices, coverage and news content.
– Respond quickly to questions about accuracy, clarity and fairness.
– Acknowledge mistakes and correct them promptly and prominently. Explain corrections and clarifications carefully and clearly.
– Expose unethical conduct in journalism, including within their organizations.
– Abide by the same high standards they expect of others.
posted by eustatic at 6:48 PM on November 15, 2019 [11 favorites]


the whole premise of "true crime" as entertainment is suspect.

The sales pitch for this stuff is that it is journalism.

it's like reality TV all over again.
posted by eustatic at 6:50 PM on November 15, 2019 [2 favorites]


The example of the live performance where they say the father is suspicious because he doesn't sound emotional in his phone call to 911, ugh. It was especially unpleasant given how much more we now know about how people who experience trauma can come across as detached. And how that is often used against them by police. It's fucked up enough that the actual 911 call is part of their live show.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 6:51 PM on November 15, 2019 [22 favorites]


They may have started out as two friends telling scary stories to their friends but it seems that some serious consideration to how they ethically profit off the suffering of others is well overdue.

The truth is, these gals are not very bright, and things got out of hand.
posted by rhizome at 7:07 PM on November 15, 2019 [2 favorites]


yikes, that is how we got fox news and CNN

Yes, I agree?

I mean, if we allow large corporations to do all sorts of grotesque things in the name of "entertainment", why are small-time independent podcasters held to a higher standard?

Criticize the sensationalism and bad taste. Criticize the cozying up to police and becoming a mouthpiece. There's a lot to hate here.

But harping about their lack of journalistic integrity when they're not claiming to be journalists feels a lot like punching down at a female-dominated genre. If we're going to hold stricter standards about integrity, and cast the net wider about what counts as journalism, we'd better go after the Fox Newses and Alex Joneses before the podcasters. That's all I'm saying.
posted by explosion at 8:39 PM on November 15, 2019 [2 favorites]


I'm pretty sure Fox News and Alex Jones have been targets of criticism.
posted by Cezar Golescu at 8:44 PM on November 15, 2019 [3 favorites]


But the shows that are being singled out for criticism aren't "small-time" -- even if perhaps they started out that way. They have enormous audiences, and have expanded to live events, merchandising, TV production, etc. They are creating mass culture. Saying "but I'm just a podcaster!" seems like a way of dodging the real issues at stake. We have a new medium, and we're going to have to figure out what accountability looks like & what the standards are. That starts by acknowledging that these enormously popular shows DO have power, which means they DO have some level of accountability.

(And some of the people I know who make this point the most strongly are small-time independent podcasters themselves! Albeit ones thinking a lot about ethics, and trying to do a really thorough, responsible job .)
posted by attentionplease at 8:56 PM on November 15, 2019 [17 favorites]


when the people committing the tort (as they surely will when someone they have implied is a child killer is exonerated)

If this were the way U.S. law worked, there wouldn't be a newspaper left standing. Implying is not stating, and suspects in publicly-discussed crimes will usually, if not universally, be considered involuntary/limited-purpose public figures for Sullivan/Butts purposes. The degree to which the podcasters "rely on" professional journalists' work would actually be in their favor in this regard, as evidencing a certain degree of care.

As a society, we still haven't fully taken on the way that a random person can now direct a floodlight of attention that will predictably incite insane responses from the general public. This is not the only area in which it's a problem. I don't know that calling everyone journalists is going to do the needed work. It's a tough problem.
posted by praemunire at 9:14 PM on November 15, 2019 [2 favorites]


Criminal is a true-crime podcast that feels non-exploitative and not reflexively pro-cop. I only wish it came out more often.
posted by stchang at 9:21 PM on November 15, 2019 [11 favorites]


If this were the way U.S. law worked, there wouldn't be a newspaper left standing.

Podcasts are published internationally, on the Internet. My comment was explicitly made in reference to jurisdictional variance and libel tourism. Interjecting irrelevant legal pedantry is never, I find, a particularly good strategy either personally or professionally.
posted by howfar at 1:45 AM on November 16, 2019


I vaguely recall that My Favourite Murder had an incident at a live show where a relative of the victim happened to find themselves at the show and called them out for making light of such a traumatic incident.

I recall it being a big deal here when The Dollop got called out for doing this. (In that case the guy who was plagiarized laid out his side of the story on MeFi). Apparently they got into some trouble about this again a little while ago and then finally started citing the sources on the episode instead of just posting the links on a website - which is great because it's all they really needed to do from the beginning but it shouldn't really take that long for podcast people to figure it out.

I for one am shocked, shocked, that a podcast that couldn't be bothered to look up the pronunciation of names might have an issue with crediting the primary sources they're cribbing from.
posted by Merus at 5:40 AM on November 16, 2019 [1 favorite]


There are hundreds of podcasts that use exactly this format. Pretty much any true crime or history podcast is just the host reading a long form article to one or two friends. I personally find the format really annoying but I don't get why CJ is being singled out for this.
posted by backlikeclap at 5:45 AM on November 16, 2019


It's an article in Indianapolis Monthly and Crime Junkie is produced in Indianapolis, it's a local story.
posted by ChrisHartley at 5:51 AM on November 16, 2019 [3 favorites]


Came in to recommend Criminal as well.

I only wish it came out more often.

They do another great podcast, which I'm sure eats up much of their time.
posted by dobbs at 8:42 AM on November 16, 2019


Have to wonder what John Marr (mastermind behind the seminal Murder Can Be Fun zine) thinks of the true crime podcasts (and of, say, the Investigation Discovery channel for that matter).
posted by gtrwolf at 9:16 AM on November 16, 2019 [2 favorites]


Back in college I blogged with some friends. This was mid/late 00's.

The problem I ran into personally was wondering what I was contributing to the world. We mostly wrote about political things. I wasn't doing reporting, interviewing people, doing FOI requests, or doing original research. Literally, what was I doing? Just recycling other stuff people had put online? I could do commentary but who cares what some random college student thinks? What is the value of any of that?

It also didn't help that I don't have a particular agenda or cause I'm trying to push other than being truthful and honest. I'm pragmatic more than ideological.

I enjoyed doing making something with friends but I got pretty disillusioned by the whole thing and stopped doing it.

So people doing podcasts, especially these true crime types where the content isn't fictional, I don't know how they have time to pump out an hour or original content each week without a staff of writers and researchers. I'd have assumed to do one properly, given the format of audio, means at minimum going to the agency that did the investigation and interviewing people, and it'd consume a lot of time hunting down retired people from cases a decade or two old, and then spending time weaving whatever you got together into a presentable narrative. So it's not really that much of a surprise that a non-fiction podcast with two people is more like reading other people's newspaper articles and telling ghost stories.

The other thing that has surprised me is that you can just 'put up podcasts'. There's no quality control.

The internet was supposed to be great: with all of human knowledge at your fingertips in seconds everyone will become enlightened! Turns out it mainly creates echo chambers, is a conduit for propaganda, and creates platforms to rile up mobs.
posted by Blue Tsunami at 10:07 AM on November 16, 2019 [1 favorite]


Criminal is a true-crime podcast that feels non-exploitative and not reflexively pro-cop.

For this reason, I wouldn't be surprised if Law 'N Order-type organizations start getting in on the game. If case leaks are going to be NBD, we just might start seeing crime podcasts by or involving retired police and other ancillary law enforcement interests, maybe police unions. The America's Most Wanted-ification of true crime. If people are listening and wanting more, someone is eventually going to try to take actual advantage of that momentum, and still others will succeed.

The other thing that has surprised me is that you can just 'put up podcasts'. There's no quality control.

This feels similar to some of the sentiment that once got us the Hays Code.
posted by rhizome at 11:11 AM on November 16, 2019 [1 favorite]


Podcasts are published internationally, on the Internet. My comment was explicitly made in reference to jurisdictional variance and libel tourism. Interjecting irrelevant legal pedantry is never, I find, a particularly good strategy either personally or professionally.

It's not legal pedantry when we're discussing a couple of people that ply their trade in Indianapolis, Indiana, USA, especially without any reason to believe that the podcasters in question have made any statements whatsoever regarding persons who live in the jurisdictions you refer to.
posted by wierdo at 12:28 PM on November 16, 2019 [1 favorite]


The other thing that has surprised me is that you can just 'put up podcasts'. There's no quality control.

I listen to a lot of podcasts but even among podcast people there are a zillion jokes built on the idea that "podcast" is almost synonymous with "no quality control."
posted by atoxyl at 1:30 PM on November 16, 2019 [2 favorites]


Interjecting irrelevant legal pedantry is never, I find, a particularly good strategy either personally or professionally.

Huh? You were specifically making an argument about how these podcasters were exposing themselves to legal liability. Explaining why they are most likely not is neither irrelevant nor pedantic. Just not what you wanted to hear.
posted by praemunire at 2:31 PM on November 16, 2019


It's not a true crime podcast (though it does revisit some famous cases of criming), but I appreciate the way that You're Wrong About not only discusses sources, but looks at how the media represented the cases at the time. Yes I like narratives, but I also like the breakdown on what sources are providing those narratives.

That is also what I liked about Uncover: The Village. It breaks down how homophobia in the mainstream press and the police force directly affected how violent crimes involving gay people were handled in the 70s/80s. And maybe still are, depending.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 6:51 PM on November 16, 2019 [2 favorites]


I listen to Crime Junkie and am a fan. It is not without flaws, but they do mention sources and include them in show notes, and I appreciate their attempts to focus on the victims as real people. They also aren't always pro-cop and point out examples of police incompetence and disinterest due to the type of victim, and are very clearly anti-lie detector. And the show has a very different tone than My Favorite Murder, which is hosted by professional comedians.
There is such underrepresentation of women's voices in media. I can't help but think that some of the criticism stems from the fact that these are two young women who have achieved financial success. Heaven forbid.

The truth is, these gals are not very bright, and things got out of hand
.

I mean really.
posted by emd3737 at 7:42 PM on November 16, 2019 [3 favorites]


Are there any True Crime website/podcast etc. that's not breathlessly cop cheerleading?

I second all recommendations above and I also like What Did You Do? The hosts are both social workers and POC who focus on cases about POC from a social work perspective (they look at social conditions as well as psychology as the context of the crimes.) They also actually know what they are talking about and are sensitive and accurate when they discuss mental illness. A lot of true crime podcasts give inaccurate information and contribute to stigma against people with mental illnesses.
posted by Waiting for Pierce Inverarity at 4:33 AM on November 17, 2019 [6 favorites]


I recall it being a big deal here when The Dollop got called out for doing this. (In that case the guy who was plagiarized laid out his side of the story on MeFi). Apparently they got into some trouble about this again a little while ago and then finally started citing the sources on the episode instead of just posting the links on a website - which is great because it's all they really needed to do from the beginning but it shouldn't really take that long for podcast people to figure it out.

I was the plagiarized party there. Dave Anthony never really paid any consequences for his rampant plagiarism; he just asserted "you can't copyright facts", which is true, but irrelevant. We weren't mad that he stole our facts, we were mad that he read our content verbatim on his competing history podcast, and profited spectacularly from it. After our complaint he started publishing dishonest* source lists on a separate site that few people will ever see. And even then, citing an article does not grant one permission to republish another author's work word-for-word.

Am I bitter? Yes. That unapologetic plagiarizer never owned up to his wrongdoing, and these days the Dollop apparently earns over $20k a month through Patreon**. And that doesn't include the Dollop live shows, which charge $35.00-$85.00 per ticket. And last I listened (while documenting aforementioned plagiarism) they also run ads. In contrast, my podcast (which he plagiarized repeatedly) earns less than $1,500 most months.

*I say 'dishonest' because he often based a whole episode on one third-party article he was reading word-for-word, but then, in his source list, the article he plagiarized was listed as source #11 or something. Even though it was clearly the only source.

** Back in 2015 Patreon showed the Dollop's monthly earnings as $2,355 with 278 patrons, for an average of $8.47 per patron. Patreon no longer publicly shows creators' earnings, but today the Dollop has 2,828 patrons, so that average sloppily extrapolates to $23,957.
posted by Hot Pastrami! at 3:40 PM on November 17, 2019 [18 favorites]


We weren't mad that he stole our facts, we were mad that he read our content verbatim on his competing history podcast

I didn't actually realize the dimension that you also did the stories as a podcast. I did remember that he tried to act like reading straight off your writeup from Damn Interesting and making jokes was somehow fair use because you didn't own the underlying stories - which, uhh, not how that works!
posted by atoxyl at 11:18 PM on November 17, 2019 [2 favorites]


The title Crime Junkie, along with the logo where various pills make up the word "junkie," has always made me rather uncomfortable.
posted by miserable-mild at 10:55 AM on November 18, 2019 [2 favorites]


What Did You Do? The hosts are both social workers and POC who focus on cases about POC from a social work perspective (they look at social conditions as well as psychology as the context of the crimes.)

Thank you for recommending this. This is everything I have ever wanted in a true crime podcast, it's like they were grown in a vat just for me. God, it's perfect. I've been mainlining episodes since Friday.
posted by sciatrix at 8:25 PM on November 18, 2019 [1 favorite]


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