Best of Slow Journalism: Undone podcast
We’re big fans of Retro Report, a Slow Journalism organisation in New York that looks at the long-term impact of largely forgotten news stories from years ago. So when we heard that Retro Report were involved in the conception of a show by Gimlet Media, the network behind superb podcasts such as StartUp and Heavyweight, we were intrigued to hear Slow Journalism produced for the radio.
Hosted by former Radiolab producer Pat Walters, Undone takes the Retro Report model and successfully applies it to narrative radio storytelling.
In each episode Walters takes a news event from history and examines the often remarkable ways it continued to impact people’s lives long after the media moved on to the next story. Take the episode on the Deacons, an armed African-American self-defence group which took on the Ku Klux Klan in Louisiana in the 1960s. Fifty years later, the Deacons are viewed as little more than a footnote in the long civil rights struggle, but reporter Eric Eddings skillfully connects the dots between the Deacons and the Black Lives Matter movement and demonstrates the story’s continuing relevance.
Other fascinating Undone episodes include Mindbomb, about how a confrontation with Soviet whalers in the Pacific both kickstarted the global Save the Whale campaign and led to a schism in the environmental movement, and Disco Demolition Night, on the surprising long-term consequences of a bizarre 1979 event which saw thousands of people angrily protest against the likes of the Village People and Donna Summer.
Disappointingly, Undone has not been renewed for a second season, but the seven available episodes give us plenty of evidence that audio Slow Journalism has a bright future.
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