ABSTRACT

The mass media genre known as “true crime” is experiencing international multi-platform success. According to Apple, Serial, the 12-part podcast investigation of a 1999 murder on NPR’s This American Life website, reached the five million downloads mark faster than any podcast in history (Dredge, 2014, para. 3). In 2017, as Siobhan A. McHugh of the University of Wollongong, Australia, noted, the S-Town podcast had ten million downloads in the first four days, “far surpassing even Serial. It has been rapturously reviewed by The Atlantic, The New York Times and respected podcasting critic Nicholas Quah in Vulture” (McHugh, 2012, para. 2). Critical praise for Serial was also effusive. Although The Telegraph called it “badly written” (Simons, 2014, para. 12), after The Guardian called Serial “a truly remarkable piece of journalism” (Simons, 2014, para. 8), Dwight Gardner of The New York Times admitted that, at its best, Serial had made “many of us drive a bit wobblier” as we experienced “the occasional tingle of campfire-narration awe” (Gardner, 2014, para. 2). Few scholars accurately identified that the podcast’s greatest appeal came from how the show “fit so squarely in true crime” conventions (Durrani, Gotkin, & Laughlin, 2015, p. 2).