Oct 14, 2022

October is known for its spooky moments. But nothing prepared me for the launch of Kim Kardashian's new Spotify-exclusive true crime podcast. Ekkkk!

Kim Kardashian’s The System: The Case of Kevin Keith is a weekly true crime podcast that sounds like just about every other one you’ve heard.

Narrated by Kardashian, alongside true crime producer Lori Rothschild Ansaldi, the story follows a Black man convicted of triple homicide in February 1994. Ever since, he has maintained his innocence and has been working to prove that he was wrongfully convicted. Sounds familiar.

“Ultimately, the goal is to shake shit up,” Kardashian told the Hollywood Reporter. “The more that people hear about [the case], the more maybe people will come out with some new information that they didn’t feel comfortable sharing before.
You never know what can happen when you create noise.”

The show features interviews with Keith, his brother, and other key players.

Interestingly, the victims’ family members said in an interview that they were not contacted by the podcast team until the day the first two episodes went live. Producers said in a statement they made multiple attempts to contact the family, but that they did not want to be interviewed. Messy, messy. 

Is it too obvious to say that it just sounds a bit tired? Sure, it’s a different case, and if the investigation leads to an overturned conviction for an innocent man, that would be amazing. But this ground has been tread millions of times before. It feels shouting into the true crime void. 

Kardashian said in an interview that her favourite podcast is Serial. But there are many reasons why that Serial should no longer be the blueprint for aspiring true crime podcasters (more on that here, here, and here, along with some legal guidelines if you’re considering delving into the genre yourself).

When I wrote about the ethics of true crime podcasting back in early 2020, “thoughtful” true crime shows were just starting to come into the fold. But they were also sharing space with comedy true crime podcasts that poked fun at the victims of serial killers. As the podcast landscape evolved, some journalists worked to move away from speculation and sensationalism towards balanced storytelling. But really – is dredging up old cases ever necessary? 

Which brings us to now, when the OG true crime podcast came back into the zeitgeist for a hot sec. At the end of September, Adnan Syed, subject of the extremely popular true crime podcast Serial, was released from prison. A new podcast episode dropped into the RSS feed, titled “Adnan is Out," detailing what happened.

True crime writer Sarah Weinman wrote that the episode felt sonically stunted: “What felt fresh from a sound engineering and production standpoint in fall 2014 sounds awfully dated now."

This week, prosecutors dropped charges against Syed. The road there was bumpy and reopened wounds for Lee’s family. But Serial producers said they won’t be covering the case anymore, or the now-unsolved murder of Hae Min Lee. It left many loyal followers scratching their heads: even the Serial team is done with this well-worn story? 

And while true crime podcasts have evolved some since 2014 – where are we headed now? Celebrity-hosted true crime? I shudder at the potential precedent this might set for other pod-curious celebs. 

Ethics discussion aside, it’s discouraging to see Spotify ink huge million-dollar podcast deals* with celebrities and in the same breath lay off 5 per cent of their in-house podcast staff and cancel 10 Gimlet and Parcast shows.

*Spotify declined to comment on the specifics of the deal with Kardashian back in 2020. 

I guess the celebrity-to-podcast-host-pipeline looks lucrative to Spotify. Kardashian’s podcast has shot to the number one spot on the platform, surpassing other Spotify-exclusive shows like J*e R*gan and the Duchess of Sussex’s Archetypes.

I truly hope Kim's podcast helps free an innocent man. I just think the future of true crime needs to look a lot different in order to thoughtfully tell sensitive stories that involve the loss of life.

Fun fact: The first two episodes of the podcast dropped the same day the SEC charged Kardashian for touting a crypto asset security sold by EthereumMax on social media without disclosing the payment she received for promo. She agreed to pay a nearly $1.3 million fine. The legal system at work!

tweet of the week

jobs hot from the fryer

Act quick on this one: The Walrus is hiring a features editor on a one-year contract, apply tonight by midnight! The job starts in early December. 

Pagemasters is hiring a full or part-time editor for the print edition of the Globe and Mail. The position can be done remotely from anywhere in Canada and pays $45k-51k. Applications close October 21. 

Frequency Podcast Network is hiring a digital editor. This is a full-time, Toronto-based position.

Recent grads and students! It’s not too late to apply to the Globe and Mail’s Summer Jobs program for 2023. Pay starts at $1,117.85/week. Apply by October 30.

CityNews Calgary is hiring a news director. And here’s a handy guide about Roger’s recruitment process. 

Here’s a whole whack of CBC jobs, all across the country:

CBC Indigenous is hiring two reporters, one full time permanent role based in Alberta, and one year-long contract based in Ontario. October 20 deadline for those. 

East coast jobs: CBC Nova Scotia is hiring a news producer. CBC Newfoundland and Labrador is hiring a reporter in St. John’s and video journalist in Gander

CBC Nunavut is looking for an associate producer for current affairs. The full-time permanent position is based in Iqaluit. They are also looking for a weekend announcer. Deadline for applications is October 26. 

CBC Whitehorse is looking for a full-time associate producer/technician for their morning radio show. Applications close October 22. 

CBC Saskatchewan is looking for an afternoon news presenter, based in Regina or Saskatoon. Apply by October 22. 

CBC Thunder Bay is hiring two reporters: one permanent full-time, one temporary full-time. Apply by October 22. 

CBC Manitoba is hiring an associate producer for radio, apply by October 21. Also looking for a weekend associate producer, apply by November 5. They’ve got some tips for applying here

CBC Toronto jobs: a news presenter, breaking news producer and rundown producer for Morning Live. 

hey freelancer!

There’s a free version of ProTools available! This is great for those looking for an audio DAW with more plugins. 

JAR Audio is hiring a fully-remote freelance audio editor that can be based anywhere in Canada. (They say it could lead to a full-time position, which would pay $50-60k/year). Apply by October 29. 

Toronto people! Journalist Jesse Wente will give a talk about authenticity in storytelling at TMU on October 20. It’s free and open to the public. 

Podcast School launches next week! Fellow Fries Max Collins and Kattie Laur are presenting at it. It runs twice a week from October 18 to November 24. Visit the website to see the courses offered and to sign up. 

TMU undergrads: The Eyeopener is offering a news writing 101 course on October 19 to learn the basics. We love campus news! 

It may not advance your journalism career, but it would be a pretty cool thing to brag about. NPR’s Code Switch wants to know what home means to you for their live show.

what we're listening to

The thing about me is that I only listen to three types of podcasts: astrology, self-help, and pop culture. But sometimes the self-help ones are a bit toooo much – it’s nice to just kick back and listen to something without actively trying to better myself. I mean, who has the mental capacity? So I’ve been listening to Jumping in an Elevator, a podcast where YouTuber Mike’s Mic says anything.

He went viral last year for his “unhinged” recap of Pretty Little Liars, and rightly so. His analysis of the confounding plot and its many side tangents unlocked core memories of my youth and had me laughing out loud. Jumping in an Elevator is an extension of his YouTube channel, where he updates followers on what he’s thinking about. Usually that’s pop music, his limited edition Rina Sawayama hat, and the many shows he’s watching and researching for upcoming videos (Lost, Gossip Girl). It’s silly, but it’s sparked in me a newfound love for K-pop, slaying, and being unapologetically obsessed with all things pop culture. For a while there, I thought I couldn’t enjoy the silly things I saw on the internet. Phew, glad that’s over. 

Forward to a friend

We want to hear from you! What are you looking for in your podcast news? Send us an email!

Thanks to the newsletter crew for handing over the writing reins to me this week. 

We’ll see you again on October 21. Until then, here’s an update from this movie lover in Katie's neighbourhood.

Yours in friends and fries,

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