News Corp has told the story of its True Crime Australia podcast and video series which this morning led to an arrest in what has been known as the Teachers Pet case.
A podcast on the case had millions of downloads and recently won The Australian's Hedley Thomas and Slade Gibson a Gold Walkley award.
National crime editor Charles Miranda says the brand launched in July as a driver for new digital subscriptions and to reward the loyalty of existing subscribers. "It was a simple idea to pool premium resources under the one brand to flag that talent, as well as to tap into a growing public appetite for long-form crime storytelling," he says in an INMA post.
"There also was recognition that a good crime story is a good crime story -regardless of the state or region where it occurred - and we were seeing that with cross-border hits and digital subscription crime stories we were attracting before the True Crime Australia launch."
In its first day of operation, TCA attracted more than a quarter of a million unique browser hits across lead launch mastheads, including the Sydney Daily Telegraph, Melbourne Herald Sun, Brisbane Courier-Mail, Adelaide Advertiser and Gold Coast Bulletin.
Miranda says the Gold Coast Bulletin - a non-capital city newspaper - was included as research showed it had more digital subscribers per capita specifically to crime stories.
It has also turned out to be where the former husband of the woman in the Teachers Pet podcast - who disappeared from Sydney's northern beaches 37 years ago - was arrested this morning.
News billed the podcast and video platform as "Australia's premium new home for compelling true crime storytelling", with multichannel marketing driving awareness. "Social media was particularly useful in driving traffic and interest," says Miranda.
"The response to date has been fantastic and has generated not only hits now measured in the millions, but immense positive feedback from audiences, and critically, new audiences with hundreds of new subscriptions specifically via the TCA breach page. We are absolutely thrilled with the result."
TCA is divided into categories for appeal, including Cold Cases, Behind the Scenes, Crime in Focus, Our Criminal History, and Book Extracts (the latter category particularly has proven popular).
Since the launch, it has provided a voice to cases and crimes that had largely been forgotten by everyone except those directly linked. "We did a story recently and the family cried when we contacted them out of the blue," he says. "They were overcome by the fact that someone had remembered their lost loved one after their file had been stamped 'unsolved homicide' by a police department and sat gathering dust for ten years."
And he says police have given a backhanded compliment of 'thanks for nothing' for increasing their caseloads with the new interest in cases and, in some instances, new leads which have been directly created.
"It's a wonder people provide police with new information so many years after a crime, but that has been our experience. And there have been tangible results, including new leads, as a direct consequence of TCA's coverage, which attracts national attention in the broader media," says Miranda. "Every new piece of information we receive gets passed on to police, so they have been appreciative for the dedication, too.
Since its launch and the addition of six more mastheads into the vertical, TCA has been looking to bring in others from the News stable, as well as joint ventures with sister operations including Sky News Australia, Foxtel and publisher Harper Collins.
Miranda says that while newsrooms have been evolving - especially in the past five years with the demand for deep digital engagement - "the core of what we do has not changed".
"It is still all about good storytelling. But what that looks like has evolved and now must include video and image-rich, longer reports and podcasts.'
• With the announcement of the arrest, the NSW police commissioner Mick Fuller credited the contribution made by the podcasts, of which there have now been 27 million downloads worldwide.
Pictured (from top): News' True Crime promotion; The Australian announces the arrest; and lists some of its reports
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