I discovered Vox’s Today Explained podcast a few months ago and it’s one I never miss on a daily basis. In one show, usually about 20 minutes in length, they break down a piece of recent, relevant news to help you understand it. Just one subject matter so you really can explore the topic in-depth.
I’ve never listened to a podcast before. Just not something that crossed my mind, really. I enjoy talk radio so I figured I’d try something but I just hadn’t. It’s funny because recently someone asked if we had ever considered podcasting for our business and we just haven’t gotten that far yet.
My SiriusXM app wasn’t working yesterday morning and I really was in the mood to listen to something. Many of my friends asked me if I had listened to the podcast “Serial,” because I have a degree in journalism. Being I wanted to something talk-related, I thought I would give this “Serial” a try.
What Is It? (No Major Spoilers in this blog)
“Serial” is a spin-off podcast from NPR’s This American Life (which I hear I must listen to!) It’s narrated by journalist Sarah Koenig and is comprised of her and her team’s look of a murder case. This case was presented to her to look into by someone who remembered Sarah worked at that local newspaper at the time.
So what’s the case? It’s an investigation into everything around the murder of 17-year-old Hae Min Lee which took place in January 1999. The state convicted her ex-boyfriend, Adnan Syed. Adnan is currently serving a life sentence at Western Maryland Prison. Without giving anything away, obviously something is sketchy with this case hence Sarah and her team’s exploration into it.
Why? Well there are some gaps in the case, which you learn about throughout the podcast. But then you scratch your head over Adnan’s friend at the time, Jay, who basically gave Adnan up to the police. You’ll understand once you hear it and when you think about it, you really question everything. And I think that’s why Sarah wanted to look into this case further.
The Journalism Role
I haven’t done a ton of research on what other journalists think yet of this podcast. It is my hope this is what good journalism is. Although HBO’s “The Newsroom” is one of my favorite shows and many journalists look poorly on it…so I won’t lie, I’m nervous of what others think. But Sarah looks into the story and picks it apart. Things that she wonders about and things her team wonders about. Each podcast is an “episode” and the further you go along, you meet all the “characters” in this story. This story being a true story and this entire thing unfolding in real time.
I have read some complaints that they are manipulating listeners. As someone with a journalism background…journalists have to piece things together. We have to re-tell a story. We have to help the audience understand the situation with an unbiased view.
When I write a story, I keep myself out of it opinion-wise, but obviously it is my take on it in a way. It’s what I view, understand and report. So thinking of that, I don’t think Sarah and her team are trying to manipulate things or make this purely for entertainment because at the end of the day this is about a murder of a young girl. A girl was killed. Someone is in jail for this heinous crime…but is the person in jail the person who committed the crime? This is what Sarah and her team is reviewing. I enjoy hearing Sarah’s interviews, it shows me her interaction with others and how she is able to obtain all this information and piece things together.
Why Should You Care?
You don’t have to care at all. But if you’re into crime stories, journalism or both, you will probably find this intriguing to see if the evidence leads a change or find an answer if Adnan really did this. This is all happening in real time, after all.
It’s been said there will be 12 “episodes” and as of November 19, 2014, we are coming up on “Episode 9.”
For some reason due to my lack of knowledge on this podcast, I was under the impression there were eight episodes, so I’m intrigued to hear more, but other parts of me are so impatient. It’s like binge-watching a show, only it’s a podcast. And, it’s true. It impacts actual lives. Maybe that’s why you should care. Maybe Adnan is a murderer. But maybe he isn’t… and that’s why I’m listening to Serial.