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The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

Podcast Review: Inside ISIS: “Caliphate” a fearless investigation into recruitment, radicalization

With her “brightly crafted” podcast, Rukmini Callimachi gives the audience a raw and insightful look on ISIS (Photo courtesy of Department of Defense)

A shockingly candid and thrilling series, “Caliphate” elevates journalistic standards and listeners’ heart rates.

In her award-winning series, New York Times investigative reporter Rukmini Callimachi takes listeners onto the physical and digital frontlines of ISIS, a complicated terrorist organization with an even more complex past.

First thing’s first, “Caliphate” is not for the faint-hearted. 

This podcast includes first-hand bloody accounts of violence and horror from former and current ISIS members, former captives and their families. Raw and gritty, yet thoughtful and direct, Callimachi poses the questions that few want to hear the answers to.

While at times listeners might find such violent and horrific accounts distressing, Callimachi creates space for her listeners to process without glossing over important details.

Providing meaningful context for what is happening and why, “Caliphate” does not minimize the gravity of its content. Rather it presents the subject matter honestly while also acknowledging its weight.

From the first chapter, what is made clear is Callimachi’s fearlessness and passion for investigating Islamic extremism. Her willingness and desire to personally contact ISIS members is a testament to her journalistic integrity and dedication to the series.

To understand why individuals are attracted to ISIS, and how these individuals become radicalized, Callimachi takes off her safety goggles and gets her hands dirty in online chat rooms and in the field. In many ways, what Callimachi sets out to accomplish in this series seems to the average listener completely ludicrous.   

The series plays out over 10 chapters, each with a distinct narrative and focus. From one chapter to the next, Callimachi manages to thread each important interview and event into a meticulously timed plot.

Rather than simply stating the facts, Callimachi takes listeners on adventures, presenting each piece of information in a meticulous manner with the naturally occurring twists and turns planned out. To this end, Caliphate is both good journalism and good storytelling.

From beginning to end, “Caliphate” is brilliantly crafted. With enticing music and gripping intros, Callimachi draws listeners in with her soothing tone and seizes their attention.

“Caliphate” is something you didn’t know you wanted until you tried it. 

Amid the variety of podcast genres, “Caliphate” definitely carves out its own niche. Redefining journalistic boundaries, Callimachi has managed to weave facts into an eloquent verbal narrative, merging journalism and storytelling into a perfect little package: the podcast.

Whatever you believe a podcast should be, Rukmini upholds the very essence of honest journalism while injecting even the darkest moments with mutually understood human experiences and reminders of our own humanity.

The result is a brave and groundbreaking series that is worth your attention.

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