An investigative-reporting podcast is one that seems to work by way of inductive or deductive reasoning. That is, the author can accumulate and examine details piece-by-piece, ultimately creating a rich, focused picture. Or they can start with an overarching claim--a hypothesis--and see if specifics support or collapse it. Non-fiction podcasts can work in similar ways, though perhaps they come more from a place of documentary filmmaking or storytelling as opposed to forensics or journalism.
Come up with an idea and make a plan.
Do some research about your investigation or non-fiction story. Research the people involved. Who are they? What do they care about?
Come up with a list of places you need to go to and people you need to speak with.
Come up with questions for your interview subjects. In the biz, this is called your “Q Line.” You can share these questions with them before the recorded interview--or not.
Set times and places for site visits and interviews.
Meet your interview subjects and record your interviews. Before you record, make sure to confirm good sound levels. Don’t be afraid to throw out your Q Line if it’s not working or if you improvisationally come across better conversation. To be recording is to be getting your “Tape.”
Finished recording interviews, share a release form with your interview subjects and have them sign it.
When visiting sites, pay attention to any sounds that could contribute to your investigation or story. Take notes about ideas and impressions you have or details and specifics you notice. As they say in the world of journalism, “Get the name of the dog…”
Transcribe all your Tape. O Transcribe is a useful tool for this.
Review all your recordings and transcriptions, cut out the best parts, and organize them into “Tracks.” You also need to write your “Acts.” Your Acts are what you’ll use to set up or deal with your Tracks.
Record yourself reading your Acts.
Determine if you need music and sound design.
Create, license, or find Creative Commons music and sounds.
Put everything together with Audacity--your Acts, Tracks, music, and sounds.
Share the draft of your podcast and get feedback. Share it with your interview subjects--or not.
Consider, reject, or incorporate feedback. Reflect on your process and the meaning of your podcast. Repeat previous steps.
In a spreadsheet, enter the metadata for all the files you created or used.
Finish your complete transcript. Your complete transcript is the one you will provide for you audience. It will be a combination of your Acts, Tracks, and descriptions of any of the music and sounds you used.
Decide, as a whole, whether or not your podcast should have a Creative Commons designation.
If you are going to put your podcasts online, do an audit of your online safety and security. Do you have safe passwords? Consider making passwords using the “diceware” method and using LastPass. If you Google yourself, what information do data brokers have about you? Consider contacting data brokers and requesting they remove your information.
No! The steps above are a guide--not the rule. You might do things in a different order or not at all. For example, you might start with no questions for your interview subjects, and, instead, leave things to the moment and improvisation. You might reject a three-act or five-act storytelling structure for a design that’s from a different tradition. You could even try to make a podcast without any scripted parts and leave people and places to speak wholly for themselves.