Friday, June 1

The Mystery of Caliphate


"Six episodes into a 10-episode series, the New York Times’ podcast Caliphate is a handsomely produced collection of riveting audio in search of a stable identity. In the podcast’s short prologue, the Times reporter Rukmini Callimachi tells producer Andy Mills that her mission is to answer the question 'Who are they?'—meaning the Islamic State, Callimachi’s beat. But is Caliphate a news podcast, like the Times’ hugely popular The Daily, in which host Michael Barbaro interviews the journalists responsible for the paper’s biggest stories of the moment—with Mills as Barbaro and Callimachi as the reporter conveying her scoops? Or is it, as its limited run suggests, a story, with a beginning, middle, and end? The Daily works so well because it’s symbiotic with the paper. Listeners feel like they’ve been seated next to the reporter at a dinner party and are getting both the version of a six-column feature and a bit of the reporter’s personality and attitudes. Without the institutional rigor of the Times behind it, however, all this insider talk would be little more than gossip, yet another take in a world brimming with free-floating opinions. ..."
Slate: The Mystery of Caliphate
NY Times: Caliphate (Audio)
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2018 April: NY Times: The ISIS Files