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11 Times True Crime Podcasters Were Called Out For Doing Wrong By Victims' Families

·5 min read

I'll be the first to admit I'm all about true crime content. From scripted procedurals to well-put-together podcasts, I'm endlessly fascinated with the pursuit of justice and answers.

Netflix / Via giphy.com

That being said, I recognize that those in the podcasting space in particular haven't done enough to make sure they are being respectful of and serving the best interest of victims and their families.

Amazon Prime Video / Via giphy.com

There's recently been an uptick in the conversation around ethics in true crime. There's a fine line between investigative journalism and how storytelling can be implemented within that and exploitation of families who often have to relive the worst time of their lives again and again.

1.Sarah Turney has been a major voice in the movement for ethical coverage of cases, putting victims and their families at the forefront.

Before getting justice, Sarah, like many true crime victims' families, reached out to creators at all levels to get coverage for the case and raise awareness.

One of those creators, James Renner, opted not to cover the case until years later, after having met Sarah and after Sarah requested creators stop making content as legal proceedings began to unfold.

Sarah asked Renner to pull the episode. Not only did he not, but he went after her on social media, which led her to publicly explain her stance.

Comment from discussion MissSarahLee's comment from discussion "So we’re all just collectively mad at James Renner because Sarah Turney told us to be? Did anyone actually listen, or are they just following her lead?".

2.Renner also allegedly confronted Julie Murray, sister of the missing Maura Murray, during CrimeCon 2021, claiming her "fans" were coming after him and threatening his daughter.

The Murray family came out with a statement nearly two years prior condemning how Renner has used the crime to boost his personal profile and spew theories that aren't based in fact, often referring to those related to the case who aren't interested in working with him as "suspicious."

3. Hae Min Lee's brother called out Serial for sensationalizing her murder.

4. Mike Boudet of Sword and Scale has been called out by numerous families for his use of uncut segments of 911 calls that can include names and addresses, sometimes of minors.

Often, in reply, he mocks or harasses those who reach out to him and ask him to take down content or complain he never reached out for permission via social media.

5. Tim Kern's son, Nick Kern, spoke out against the Morbid podcast's Craigslist Killer coverage.

Not only was he not consulted about the coverage of the case, but his name and face were put out there as supplementary information to the podcast.

6.Morbid also landed in hot water for their handling of the Brittanee Drexel case, especially after someone close to the case emailed them. They chose to cherry-pick comments from the email to read in a follow-up episode which misrepresented a number of points.

7. Terra Newell reclaimed her story after her prior interviews were turned into the Dirty John podcast.

8.My Favorite Murder told a woman's story as part of their hometown segment, which wouldn't have been too bad if the details of her case were publicly available. They were not.

The information came from a law enforcement officer's daughter, who submitted privileged information for public consumption without the consent of the victim, which the podcast did not seek either. When the victim made contact with the podcast, they were able to reach an amicable resolution, but they still shared their story to warn others not to be so flippant about sharing stories, especially when they are not their own.

9. And it's not just podcasters. Even streaming services and networks are being called out on their handling of true crime podcasts.

Mariah Day called out The Thing About Pam for its partially fictionalized version of her mother's murder.

10. Jordan Preston took a similar approach when her sister Brooke's murder by her roommate was turned into a Hulu series.

11. Collier Landry also retook control of the story of his mom's murder by starting his own podcast and creating his own film about it after hearing the case covered on Forensic Files (while on a date).

Did we miss any? What do you think about ethics in true crime podcasting? Sound off in the comments!