Podcasting has become enormously popular. Not just as a platform for storytelling, but as a new medium for investigative journalism, too.
True Crime podcasts - arguably its most popular genre - focus primarily on retelling the stories behind notorious cold cases, including the many baffling, high-profile Australian cases that remain unsolved.
Sydney-based ABC journalist, Ruby Jones established her reputation as an investigative journalist when she collaborated with veteran journalist Neil Mercer to produce the three-part film documentary and podcast entitled Unravel: Barrenjoey Road last year. The series focused on the abduction and disappearance of 18-year-old Trudie Adams from Sydney's Northern Beaches 40 years ago.
Jones will be in Port Macquarie next month for the third annual LitFest2444 from June 5-6. While the literary festival was created to showcase storytelling in its many forms to inspire local high school students, this year's festival will feature a session open to the community.
The public session will be held on Wednesday, June 5 at Newman Senior Technical College beginning at 6.30pm. Tickets are $15 and on sale through the LitFest2444 website.
Jones will join co-presenter, researcher and writer Anna Priestland.
The pair will present 'Investigative Journalism and the True Crime Podcast' an hour-long panel discussion followed by a Q and A session. They will discuss what makes a great story, the craft of storytelling through podcasting, the behind-the-scenes production elements, and how their true crime podcasts are created.
Murder and corruption uncovered
Ruby Jones said that while making Barrenjoey Road, she and Mercer discovered links to attacks on as many as 19 women on the Northern Beaches in the months leading to Trudie Adams' disappearance. They also believe her case may be connected to several murders, major drug dealing, and involve high-level corruption and cover-ups.
The two journalists, who are now planning a book on Adams' disappearance, hope the new information will shed fresh light on the cold case and help police find Trudie's abductor.
Jones believes podcasting is helping to re-invigorate investigative journalism.
"What surprised me was that so many people got in touch with information they hoped would help to solve the case - more than for any other subject I've written about," Jones said.
"That kind of reaction seems to be fairly common where true crime is involved: People are not just interested, they actually become invested. They want to see justice done - even though decades may have passed.
A must for crime genre fans
For fans of the crime storytelling in all is forms, the community event is not to be missed, according to LitFest2444 co-organiser Karen Bale.
"The 2019 LitFest2444 program is wildly eclectic," she said.
"Students will learn the secrets of storytelling through words, images and sounds.
"Our 31 expert presenters range from novelists to animators and they will be delivering 25 creative workshops and practical sessions on everything from penning poetry to creating comics, and fantasy writing to podcasting."
The organisers expect more than 500 high school students from at least 10 schools across the Hastings, and as far south as the Hunter region and north to Kempsey to attend.
Places are still open for several creative workshops.
For more information on the 2019 LitFest2444 program go to www.litfest2444.com.au.