“LISTEN” Director, Nicole Noren Shares Perspective Ahead of Release of Documentary Four Years in the Making
Featuring New Reporting and Revelations, "LISTEN" Debuts Tuesday, March 28, 7 p.m. ET on ESPN+ and ESPN+ on Hulu
Editor’s Note: Video produced by Spencer Jackson and Bea Panitz
In December 2018, the president of the University of Utah spoke about the recent murder of a female student-athlete. The president assured the media, the student’s parents, and the campus that a school-commissioned investigation did “not offer us a reason to believe that this tragedy could have been prevented.”
Except that wasn’t true.
I’m Nicole Noren, director of LISTEN, an ESPN documentary about the murder of athlete Lauren McCluskey and the institutional and systemic failures that led to her death. It premieres on ESPN+ and ESPN+ on Hulu at 7 p.m. ET on March 28. I’ve worked at ESPN since 2000 and am an investigative producer in ESPN’s Investigative and Enterprise Unit.
Lauren McCluskey was murdered by an ex-boyfriend she had met at a campus bar. Shortly after dating him, she began to realize he was not who he said he was. Over a few harrowing weeks, she and her friends sought help, but none of the institutions set up to protect Lauren listened to her.
This film presents an in-depth portrait of the 21-year-old woman and examines the short relationship that preceded her murder, the life of the man who committed it and the failures that enabled him. Covering and conveying this story responsibly, sensitively and comprehensively are especially important to me as a journalist, documentarian, and a survivor of intimate partner violence.
Many films document violence but fail to devote proper attention to the backstories of how relationships turn abusive and the histories and heinous acts of the perpetrators. To fully understand this tragedy and its lessons, we investigated the warning signs Lauren’s killer showed over and over to the people and institutions charged with protecting the community.
Relationship abuse doesn’t typically happen suddenly or without warning; signs creep in slowly. Lauren, her friends, and her family saw such troubling signs and did the right thing.
The ripples of this tragedy are felt far and wide. Not only will viewers see the arc of the McCluskeys’ path to discovery and healing and their efforts to create meaningful change, they will hear the powerful reflections of people who were vilified for not taking action and whose lives are forever changed.
My hope is that people come away from this film with a better understanding of the responsibility all of us have to pay attention and act when those who are in abusive relationships seek help. Not only must we — people and institutions — LISTEN, we must act.
Editor’s Note: Visit ESPN.com for a digital and audio presentation of “Listen.”