Chris Dawson has been found guilty of murdering his wife Lynette Dawson, so do we owe the verdict to a podcast?
Well, News Corp’s Michael Miller believes it’s an example of where dogged journalism gets you. News Corp is the entity behind the Teacher’s Pet Podcast.
There’s no denying that the Teacher’s Pet podcast thrust the unsolved case back into mainstream consciousness. The podcast led by Hedley Thomas took over the podcast charts and has been downloaded over 60 million times.
Suddenly everyone was asking, where is Lynette Dawson? She was a mother of two who seemingly disappeared from her northern beaches home in 1982.
But the real story about the podcast is how it crossed over into the real world. Creators of the podcast Hedley Thomas and Slade Gibson won the 2018 Gold Walkley for their work on the podcast. But, these accolades aside, the renewed interest in the case led to a reinvestigation into Lynette Dawson’s disappearance.
Ultimately Chris Dawson was charged with the murder of his wife and was found guilty yesterday.
However, he has maintained his innocence and will likely appeal the conviction.
The podcast was mentioned numerous times during the trial, which was a judge-only case because of concerns that a trial by jury was impossible due to the podcast’s popularity.
The Guardian has reported that the judge presiding on the case, Justice Ian Harrison mentioned the podcast to draw comparisons between the evidence given in court and the interviews done on the podcast.
Justice Harrison even said the Teacher’s Pet Podcast: “May in whole or in part have completely deprived some evidence of its usefulness.”
But would the case have made it to court without the push of public interest created by Hadley’s podcast?
Associate Professor of Media Camilla Nelson told B&T, “I don’t believe the case would have gotten in front of the courts without the podcast. But I have an ambivalent feeling towards the podcast because ‘ideal’ victims like Lynette Dawson will get that recognition through the media, but the vast majority of victims of domestic violence won’t.
“Anna Summers’s recent report showcases the reality for women fleeing domestic violence in this country.”
Similarly, Michael Miller, executive chairman of News Corp Australia, told B&T, “Let’s hope for Lyn Dawson’s family that yesterday’s guilty verdict marks an end to their four-decade ordeal.
“Their quiet dignity, extraordinary courage and determination to correct this terrible injustice is perhaps the most extraordinary aspect of the entire episode.
“Hedley Thomas’s dogged pursuit of the truth shows journalism’s profound importance with a clarity that is undeniable.
“His pioneering use of podcasting with The Teacher’s Pet blending investigative journalism, live reporting, and public contribution mixed with great storytelling also stands as a seminal moment in journalism’s power and its trusted role in questioning authority and holding it to account.
“As a consequence of Hedley and The Australian’s editorial team’s work, much has been done to expose the blight of domestic violence, predatory grooming and coercive control, not only here in Australia but globally.”
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