Sounds of success for UOW alumni and academics

Sounds of success for UOW alumni and academics

Podcast series that investigated the death of Phoebe Handsjuk wins national media award.

Phoebe’s Fall, a podcast series produced by Fairfax Media and featuring University of Wollongong (UOW) journalism graduates and researchers has won the Best Documentary / Storytelling Podcast at the inaugural Australian Podcasting Awards.

The Cast Away podcast awards, the first of its kind for podcasts in Australia, attracted entries for 11 categories, judged by an industry panel.

Phoebe’s Fall tells the story of Phoebe Handsjuk who fell to her death down a garbage chute in a luxury Melbourne apartment complex.

The Coroner recorded death by misadventure, but the family doubted the version of events was physically possible.

Fairfax journalists Richard Baker and Michael Bachelard investigated the story, and through Digital Editorial Capability Lead at Fairfax Media and UOW Research Fellow Julie Posetti, partnered with UOW to produce a six-part podcast series documenting the life and death of Phoebe Handsjuk.

UOW journalism alumnus Jake Evans and then final-year journalism student Lucy Dean worked as assistant producers while Journalism Senior Lecturer Dr Siobhan McHugh was brought on to the team as a consulting producer.

From the release of its first episode in September 2016, Phoebe’s Fall went to number one on iTunes Australian podcast charts above the award-winning true-crime podcast Serial.

Dr Siobhan McHugh said the podcast was an invaluable teaching and learning experience for journalism students.

“While we were producing the podcast, I was teaching a subject that looked at different ways of presenting complex stories and we would discuss how Phoebe’s Fall was being put together,” she said.

“I was able to show them an episode and relay what they were most interested in hearing about in the next episode to the producers. It was great for the students, but also great for us, because these students were our demographic.”

Jake Evans, a Digital Content Producer at Fairfax Media, told UOW’s The Stand that his education prepared him for new-media challenges.

“One of the best things about my degree is that it was very hands-on,” Jake said. “You actually work in a newsroom, you produce video, audio and podcasts.

“So when it came to doing Phoebe’s Fall, even though I’m pretty fresh from uni, I was well prepared. I’ve used the software, I know how to edit and I understand particular techniques.”

Dr McHugh has also been commissioned to produce a documentary podcast for the ABC’s Earshot program, based on recordings made as part of an ARC Discovery project led by Professor Ian McLean, a UOW art historian and research professor.

The project has involved recording oral histories in remote Aboriginal communities about the relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people behind the production of Aboriginal art under the working title Heart of Artness.

Read more about the making of Phoebe’s Fall and why podcasts are increasingly popular on UOW’s The Stand.