Neroli Price


By investigating Courtney Copeland’s 2016 murder, the podcast series Somebody (2020) does the work that should be done by police. Narrated by Courtney’s mom, Shapearl Wells, the series not only decentres the official police narrative, but also opens up alternative paths towards seeking justice. Situated within the Black Lives Matter movement, calls to defund the police and questions about the usefulness of “objectivity” in journalism, Somebody attempts to put systemic violence on trial and hold those in power to account. Challenging extractive forms of journalism, Somebody moves towards a model of shared authority between producers and their sources. This review focuses on the use of voice and perspective in the series and how that lays bare the many ways that systemic police violence disproportionately impacts Black people. It uses narrative structure and true-crime tropes to illustrate how Somebody both deploys storytelling techniques and breaks them. It offers an example of what podcast series might sound like if they centred the communities they cover rather than trying to shock and surprise their imagined audiences.