Episode #12:

How to produce award-winning slow journalism with Dr Caroline Graham

In this episode of The Craft podcast, our host Rachel Westbury, Senior Editor at Shorthand, welcomes Dr Caroline Graham, Lecturer in Digital Journalism at The University of Queensland.

Caroline is the co-author of bestselling Australian novel, Larrimah. She’s also the co-author and co-producer of the Walkley Award-winning investigative true crime podcast series Lost in Larrimah.

Caroline shares some insights into her work as an investigative journalist, and talks about the importance of close observation, collaboration, and empathy in journalism. 

She explains “We live in really divisive times, and I believe that stories are important. They’re a way to slip inside, for a little while, the lives of people who are different to you. I hope that the process of doing that makes us kind and more empathic.” 

Listen as Rachel and Caroline discuss the emergence of slow journalism, the democratisation of storytelling, and how to overcome the challenges of longform story production.

How to listen:

This episodes guest

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Name: Dr Caroline Graham

What she does: Caroline is a Lecturer in Digital Journalism at The University of Queensland.

Company: The University of Queensland

Noteworthy: Caroline is the co-author of the Australian bestseller Larrimah (Allen & Unwin, 2021), which was shortlisted for an Indie Book Award and has been optioned by NBC Universal and Matchbox Pictures for potential development into a scripted TV series. 

She’s also the co-author and co-producer of the investigative true crime podcast series Lost in Larrimah (The Australian, 2018), which won a Walkley Award, an NT Media Award and was a finalist in the Quills Awards and the Australian Podcasting Awards

Where to find Caroline: Research Profile | Twitter | LinkedIn 

Links from this episode

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Episode highlights

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Trust the production process

“Writing or storytelling generally is just a process of failing and you just, that's what you do. You just fail over and over and over again until you finally find something that works. It's an amazing process… And it's also really awful when you're in the middle of it.

“I just have to keep reminding myself that this is the process. The process is hard and fraught and I think the more I can remember that it's the process — and not the project, and not me — that is helpful.”

Slow journalism makes for more empathic reporting

“Sitting with a story for so long has totally made me rethink how I come into journalism and how I think and feel about it. There's a lot of talk now about the slow journalism movement and I can see how much difference time and headspace makes to a story.

“And it also makes me think differently about closeness and objectivity as well. It's impossible to have that distance when you're four years deep into a project. But I also think there's a lot of value in being close to a project. It makes you kinder and more empathic in your reporting.”

Inclusivity of digital platforms

“We live in these really divisive times, and the world feels quite fractured. It's going to sound a little bit naive, but I believe that stories are important and are a way that we can slip inside the life of someone else for a little while, particularly someone who might be really different to you. 

“There's a lot of research that connects story and consumption of stories with empathy. [...] I hope there is something in the process of listening, reading, or watching other people's stories that makes us kinder, more empathic, and a little bit more tolerant of differences.

“There are lots of things like in the structures of media that media doesn’t serve well — certain communities. But digital platforms, they're kind of this uncolonised space at the moment and, because it's in its early stages, we all get to have a say in what that culture looks like. And I think it's really important that we fight in these early stages for that to be a place that is inclusive and reflective of a huge range of people.”