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Beyond true crime: Striking a balance between ethics and entertainment

The true crime genre is booming. After all, who doesn't love a good whodunit? Today, we're moving beyond the mystery and talking about how true crime can be used to tell bigger stories, asking what ethics are at play, and discovering what happens when trauma becomes entertainment.
Connie Walker (top-left), Thomas King (top-right), Bruce Shapiro (bottom-left) and Allan Clarke have all worked within the true crime genre, whether it's reporting on it, writing about it or even being directly involved in it. (CBC, Trina Koster, Submitted by Bruce Shapiro, ABC)

The true crime genre is booming. After all, who doesn't love a good whodunit?

Today, we're moving beyond the mystery and talking about how true crime can be used to tell bigger stories, asking what ethics are at play, and discovering what happens when trauma becomes entertainment. 

Allan Clarke is an award-winning Muruwari journalist and the host of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's true crime podcast, Blood on the Tracks. The podcast follows his investigation into the unsolved death of an Indigenous teenager named Mark Haines. He explains how telling this story as a true crime podcast has attracted more attention to the case. 

On August 7, 1994, a man had a psychotic episode and stabbed seven people in a Conneticut café. Bruce Shapiro, an editor for "The Nation", found himself on the other end of the story that night. He was one of those critically injured in the attack. Now the director of the Dart Centre for Journalism and Trauma at Columbia University, he says learning how to report on trauma is essential for journalists.  

True crime podcasts are everywhere. But there can be issues when telling traumatic stories, issues when these stories become entertainment. Connie Walker is an award-winning Cree journalist, and the host of CBC's true crime podcast, Missing and Murdered. She's thought a lot about not sacrificing ethics for storytelling, and how to use her podcast to offer context and history. 

Although he doesn't watch it, author Thomas King drew inspiration from true crime reality TV for the latest installment in his DreadfulWater Mystery series. He'll even read a bit from A Matter of Malice.

This week's Playlist

Teeks - Never Be Apart
iskwē - Little Star

 


 

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