When 5-year-old Noah Thomas disappeared in rural Pulaski County, Va., in 2015, a massive search ensued, accompanied by intensive news coverage. Four days later the body of the child was found in a septic tank with an unsecured lid, 10 feet away from the basketball hoop outside his home.
The boy's mother, Ashley White, said she was taking a nap and Noah was gone when she woke up. The home situation was less than ideal, and instead of community sympathy for her loss, White was the object of a backlash of condemnation fueled by gossip, rumor and social media.
"She didn't grow up with a silver spoon in her mouth," said Lee Wolverton, managing editor of The Roanoke Times. "She struggled like a lot of people in that area have. People are pretty quick to judge people like her."
By the time she was convicted of child abuse leading to an injury as well as two lesser charges of neglect, White had been in jail for more than a year. Released on time served, she appealed the main conviction. It was overturned by an appeals court and the Virginia Supreme Court allowed that ruling to stand.
This spring The Roanoke Times released a multi-part podcast, simply called "Septic," that told the story with a focus on the mother. Much of it is audio based in large part on courtroom recordings that were released to the newspaper. It also includes recorded interviews, photos, documents and some video.MORE
The true crime miniseries, which explores the dark side of the Sunshine State, has already received nearly half a million listens. Fans are calling the series "riveting.MORE
By Jennifer Nelson, Donald W. Reynolds Journalism Institute
A California newspaper is learning as it experiments with podcasting using its existing staff. The Q&A dives into questions like: “What goes into creating a podcast episode?” “What’s the most effective way to promote the podcast?” “What has been the biggest challenge when it came to launching the podcast or continuing to produce the segments?”MORE
Over the summer, the folks at The Palm Beach Post in Florida realized they had "a very large stock" of aging spadea paper that had to be used fairly quickly. Spadea paper, used for premium advertising that folds or wraps around the front section of the newspaper, eventually ages to the point that it's no good. The unused stock of paper became one half of a special package that also featured premium positioning on the paper's website.More