True-crime podcast listeners might have cracked a case nobody knew was brewing. “Crime Junkie,” among the many style’s hottest exhibits, has pulled a number of episodes from its archive after a journalist accused it of plagiarizing her work.
“Crime Junkie,” hosted by Ashley Flowers and Brit Prawat since its December 2017 debut, operates out of Indianapolis, and examines a wide range of crimes across the nation.
This month a journalist named Cathy Frye posted a prolonged be aware on Ms. Flowers’s private and public Fb account concerning an episode on the 2002 killing of 13-year-old Kacie Woody. Ms. Frye, who wrote a collection of articles on the crime, accused Ms. Flowers of quoting nearly verbatim a portion of her work, which she stated was copyrighted by The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. The journalist stated that she had spent months engaged on the collection.
“The data you utilized in your podcast comes solely from my collection,” Ms. Frye wrote. “No different media had entry to the small print that I did. Nor did they get the interviews that I did.”
Ms. Frye advised that Ms. Flowers conduct her personal interviews or share the supply of her data with listeners. “You’ll be able to both take down that podcast or I — and the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette — will pursue this legally,” she wrote. Inside days, the episode had been eliminated, together with a number of others.
The remark despatched shock waves by means of present’s fan base, and within the tight-knit world of true-crime podcasting. And Ms. Frye’s accusation prompted different podcasters to complain that they, too, had their work utilized by “Crime Junkie.”
Ms. Frye didn’t instantly return requests for remark; she instructed BuzzFeed Information that she first realized of the podcast whereas touring along with her daughter. David Bailey, the managing editor of The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, which in 2003 revealed the four-part collection on Ms. Woody’s demise, stated in an e mail on Tuesday that Ms. Frye was a former reporter there and that the paper was conscious of the difficulty. He stated he thought of the difficulty “successfully rendered moot” as a result of the episode had been eliminated.
4 days after Ms. Frye’s be aware, “Crime Junkie” posted a press release to its Fb web page asserting that it had taken down “a number of” episodes as a result of “their supply materials might now not be discovered or correctly cited.” It didn’t say what number of.
“Our analysis course of is thorough, inflexible, and exhaustive, and people accustomed to Crime Junkie are conscious that we clarify references to the usage of different sources and that complete notes and hyperlinks to all sources are made accessible on our present’s web site,” the assertion stated.
A consultant for Ms. Flowers pointed to the present assertion on Fb and didn’t instantly reply to questions on which episodes had been eliminated or whether or not the present deliberate to handle the controversy in an upcoming episode.
Different podcasters have raised complaints
There are dozens of true-crime podcasts, overlaying a spread of demise and destruction. Some reinvestigate instances with reams of unique analysis or interviews. Others resemble Wikipedia-esque retellings.
“Crime Junkie” is a well-liked present, persistently rating excessive on Apple’s podcast charts not simply amongst true-crime exhibits however all podcasts. In an interview with Deadline in Could, Ms. Flowers hinted at an increasing empire with plans to show the podcast right into a drama collection and to create a brand new podcast with the assistance of the state police in Indiana.
In her biography on the “Crime Junkie” web site, Ms. Flowers stated she needed to be a “voluntary detective” who solves instances in her free time. She additionally sits on the board of administrators for Crime Stoppers of Central Indiana.
Ms. Prawat, the “Crime Junkie” co-host, beforehand labored for a personal investigator, in response to the web site. She can also be described as a lover of “Forensic Information” and “America’s Most Wished” and is credited with first introducing Ms. Flowers to podcasts.
Different podcast hosts have raised objections to “Crime Junkie.” Robin Warder, who hosts “The Path Went Chilly,” instructed Selection final week that “Crime Junkie” learn with out credit score from a Reddit put up he wrote in 2015 on a chilly case that he had featured on his personal present.
In an interview on Tuesday, Mr. Warder stated the “Crime Junkie” podcast, about 18 minutes into Episode 25, “began studying my Reddit put up nearly verbatim with out credit score.”
“A lightweight bulb went off in my head,” he added. “It’s structurally precisely the identical.”
Mr. Warder stated phrase unfold rapidly within the close-knit world of crime podcasters, who attend conventions, cross-promote one anothers’ platforms and share data on Fb teams.
He stated that it was commonplace for podcasts to cowl the identical instances, however that there have been unwritten guidelines in the neighborhood: “If you will cowl the identical instances, search for your individual sources, write your individual script and supply your individual evaluation.”
Steven Pacheco, the host of the “Hint Proof” podcast, stated that “Crime Junkie” had used his work with out permission as effectively.
On Friday, he launched a video juxtaposing quotes from his personal 2017 podcast about Asha Diploma, a 9-year-old lady from North Carolina who disappeared in 2000, with an episode that “Crime Junkie” aired in January.
When he listened to that “Crime Junkie” episode, Mr. Pacheco stated, he was shocked to listen to the hosts describe the location the place the kid disappeared not as a forest, as revealed information reviews known as it, however reasonably as a “tree line,” which was how he described the placement on his podcast after he had gone to have a look at the spot in particular person.
“After I heard that line was after I realized,” he stated. “It was actually bizarre — it was simply a casual remark that I made.”
Mr. Pacheco, 36, then began listening to different “Crime Junkie” episodes, and has supplied a lawyer with transcriptions and time stamps from a minimum of seven episodes that he claims use data from his work. He stated a number of of them had been among the many episodes that had been taken down.
Esther Ludlow, who hosts the “As soon as Upon a Crime” podcast, stated in an interview that final week she seen similarities between an April 2018 episode of her present and a June 2018 “Crime Junkie” episode on the identical subject. Each featured a lady who had sought revenge for a whole lot of murdered girls in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico.
Ms. Ludlow stated the episode quickly vanished from the “Crime Junkie” roster. It now not seems on Apple’s podcast feed.
Ms. Ludlow, who works on her podcast full time, stated it’s “disappointing” and “irritating” to see her work repurposed.
“If it someway will get addressed and it will get corrected indirectly, that’s type of ok for me,” she stated.
As a result of “Crime Junkie” is so common, she added, the shortage of quotation and credit score “displays badly on everybody.”
Credit score the place it’s due
Giving correct credit score is likely one of the moral challenges of the digital world, stated Aaron Chimbel, the dean of the Jandoli Faculty of Communication at St. Bonaventure College in New York.
He stated such practices might change into notably unscrupulous when producers develop a following and really feel they “always must feed the beast.”
“If a podcast is pulling work from different locations, that is perhaps completely tremendous, so long as your listeners know that,” Mr. Chimbel stated.
Current evaluations of “Crime Junkie” on Apple, posted because the accusations grew to become public, have been break up between one and 5 stars, with little in between. “I’ve learn that you simply’ve taken different’s exhausting work to make your podcast,” one wrote. “Unsubscribing.”
One other stated they’d revised their preliminary five-star assessment to 1 star and expressed disappointment that the latest episode didn’t tackle the “clearly-evidenced allegations of plagiarism.”
However the podcast nonetheless has its followers. “What an insightful, effectively researched and vetted docu-series podcast!” one supporter wrote.
The most recent episode of “Crime Junkie,” on a serial killer referred to as the Hillside Strangler, was launched on Monday and cites 12 sources. On Wednesday, it was among the many hottest on iTunes.