Add your title
Combine large, bold images with the beautifully crafted words of your story. Shorthand makes this easy, so start now!
BLACK HANDS: ENTRIES FOR THE 22ND ANNUAL WEBBY AWARDS
Online audio series that examines documentary content in narrative form, interviews, and conversation.
Best Individual Episode
The most memorable, informative, or entertaining single podcast episode.
The most memorable, entertaining, informative, and engaging podcast series as a whole.
Podcasts that demonstrate excellence in editorial, regardless of the topic covered.
When Stuff decided to turn an investigation into one of New Zealand’s most controversial murders into a podcast series it had no idea if anyone would listen.
They did. The series titled Black Hands has had more than 3 million downloads worldwide.
The 11-part series examines the violent deaths of five members of a family in their rundown home 23 years ago. There were two suspects. One lay dead from a single bullet to the head. The other was David Bain, the family’s eldest son and the only survivor of the mass shooting.
David Bain soon became the prime suspect and was jailed for the murders.
But he continued to plead his innocence from behind bars in a case which attracted many supporters and soon became one of the most debated crimes in NZ history. An appeal all the way to the Privy Council in Britain saw his conviction overturned and in a second dramatic trial he was acquitted.
Senior investigative journalist Martin van Beynen, who sat through every hour of that second trial, was not convinced by the jury’s acquittal and spent hundreds of hours over three years further researching the evidence, interviewing key players and writing a book on his findings.
Then his publisher pulled out.
In what has proved to be a pivotal decision then Stuff’s South Island editor-in-chief Joanna Norris, partly inspired by Serial, suggested turning van Beynen’s book into a podcast series.
Our print-legacy newsroom had never before made a podcast.
The script was reworked over many more months and with the help of an outside recording studio, the Black Hands series was recorded.
Within hours of its release on July 24 the series was number one in the New Zealand iTunes podcast charts, and by day two was topping Australia. Within two weeks it was number one in the UK.
It has now had 3 million downloads - a remarkable achievement for a team who has never before produced a podcast.
This includes more than 250,000 downloads in the United States, the birthplace of the world’s most successful true-crime podcast Serial.
The title Black Hands refers to a phrase used by chief suspect David Bain after the deaths of his family.
The series looks into the background of the six-member Bain family whose early life was forged in Papua New Guinea and steeped in religious beliefs. Mother Margaret saw the Devil at play in each of her family especially her husband Robin.
It surveyed the evidence for and against David and considers whether the real killer was his father Robin Bain, who then turned the gun on himself.
In the series, van Beynen offers his conclusion on who the killer was.
Black Hands has received international media attention including from mass-circulation British tabloid The Sun.
As newcomers to podcasting, one of the major hurdles our newsroom faced was finding a way to record it.
We had little experience and, crucially, no studio. We considered hiring a studio, partnering with colleagues in broadcast media, or hiring a production company to do the recording.
The latter would guarantee high-quality and leave total control in our hands, but was potentially prohibitively expensive.
We were lucky that a local production house Tandem Studios was enthusiastic about our project and offered to work with us at a significantly discounted rate.
Tandem worked with van Beynen on what would be nearly 200 hours of recording, editing and re-editing before the Black Hands series was complete.
At every step the team had to learn new skills, from figuring out how to turn a book manuscript into a podcast, to how to publish and distribute the final product.
On the date of its official launch July 24, Black Hands was promoted by Stuff with an eight-chapter interactive feature promoted heavily online for a week. News and features also ran in Fairfax’s daily print newspapers supported by digital and print advertisements.
The success of Black Hands has exceeded all our expectations and created a new market for podcasts in New Zealand.
It is especially thrilling to know that a serious and important investigation by one of New Zealand’s most experienced journalists has been able to reach a new kind of audience through this medium.
The Black Hands site on Stuff:
Audio feed of the podcast series:
Feature interview with Martin van Beynen:
One of three live chats with Martin van Beynen: