Did you know that the first true crime coverage dates back to ca. 1617? The Book of Swindles told the story of fraud cases, based on real events supposedly, during the late Ming dynasty. Throughout the centuries, these gripping stories, the details of certain mysterious cases, the motives behind murders or society’s view of the malfeasance have captured the attention of many.
Due to the rising popularity of the penny press, more and more articles, essays, then books started to deal with such topics. When it comes to establishing the modern TC novelistic style, we usually credit the genius of Truman Capote: his non-fiction, In Cold Blood, was a definite milestone, not only for the author but the genre as well.
Although some cases have had massive media coverage and kept people on the edge of their seat all over the globe, it was the evolution of podcasts that gave true crime fans a way to quench their thirst, making top-notch investigative works available anytime, anywhere. You can play detective, right in your own living room.
In our two-part article, we list a few of our favorite true crime podcasts that deal with heavy subjects in an open-minded, thoughtful way. It’s important to say that these are not only cases: they happened to real people, had real consequences, brought real pain along for those who lost their loved ones. True crime stories can be told in a sensitive manner – as the journalists behind these series demonstrate it to us.
Someone Knows Something
With 5 seasons of investigative journalism behind his back, David Ridgen has become a well-respected voice in many households, not only in Canada but around the world. In the first season, he investigates the disappearance of a five-year-old boy, then goes after the missing case of a woman from Hamilton, Ontario. We accompany him to the Mississippi River to reopen the investigation of a Klan-related crime, while in season 4, we get into untangling the mysteries around a family man who was killed by a bomb mailed to his home. The latest season explores the background of the disappearance and murder of a fifteen-year-old girl. Though all the stories are shocking in their own way, Ridgen approaches them with a very humane attitude, setting an example to aspiring journalists as well.
America’s Dad. A legend. A comic genius. And also: a monster. With 63 women coming forward, Cosby can’t fool the world anymore. This six-episode podcast takes us through the horrific experiences of some of the women who encountered the real Bill Cosby, telling a painfully eye-opening tale of one bad man using his fame and power to exploit women. Reporting it all is Nicki Weisensee Egan who dived into the Cosby case more than a decade ago. Once a Cosby fan, she – much like the audience – has to learn to draw the line between the comedian’s image and the real personality behind the mask of celebrity. One of the central characters of the podcast is Andrea Constand who filed a civil suit against Bill Cosby in 2005, following the obstacles in her – and many other women’s – way until Cosby is finally brought to justice and found guilty in 2018.
The Teacher’s Pet
A mother of two girls. A gorgeous wife of a handsome rugby player. She goes missing, leaving no traces behind, and the case hunts the Australian public and journalist Hedley Thomas alike. As we dive deeper, we learn about what happens behind closed doors, and how a seemingly picture-perfect marriage couldn’t be further from an ideal relationship: infidelity, abuse, sexual misconduct between teachers and students in a number of public high schools. Thomas’ dedicated work gives the podcast a truly humane touch – he avoids sensationalism and manages to bring Lynette Dawson’s life and the crude reality of her disappearance as well as its consequences to light.