Jump to content

Serial Podcast


Recommended Posts

Has anyone else been following this?

For those that might have been completely away from all culture in the past two months, Serial is a documentary podcast from This American Life that has a long-form narrative instead of a weekly format. It's following a murder from 1999 that has some serious issues in how it went through the justice system.

After ten episodes, I'm fairly convinced that Adnan is probably innocent. Or at least far less guilty than he was convicted. The issue for me is that the show isn't really being forthright about its role.

Sarah Koening has at times said or implied that she's only an observer / reporter and not an active participant in this story. Except that can now never really be the case. The information that she's curating and presenting is going to be the groundwork for Adnan's appeal. That, plus she's at the very least is subconsciously supporting Adnan's story. She's open about the fact that she's befriended him over the phone, wants to believe that he didn't do it, etc. You just can't have it both ways.

I don't think SK and the show can realistically keep walking that line and just playing the role that suits them best at the time. You have to either be a purely objective journalist, or a gonzo-esque advocate and character in the story. Given the information presented in Serial, I've come to believe that Adnan is innocent. Or at least only partially guilty. But I keep questioning that because I wonder how much of that is because I believe it, or because SK wants me to believe it.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you for the post, D-Ray!

I don't think SK and the show can realistically keep walking that line and just playing the role that suits them best at the time. You have to either be a purely objective journalist, or a gonzo-esque advocate and character in the story. Given the information presented in Serial, I've come to believe that Adnan is innocent. Or at least only partially guilty. But I keep questioning that because I wonder how much of that is because I believe it, or because SK wants me to believe it.

I don't think it is possible to be a "purely objective journalist." Even if you are totally fair 100% of the time and make every effort to report both sides of the story, you are going to have bias, simply by the nature of what you choose to omit -- nobody can report every fact and every story.

 

This happens even with totally non-controversial stuff. I see it in myself: an elderly woman who is afraid to update her own website occasionally gives me a list of events she wants posted, and I totally give more attention to the ones I am fond of or find more interesting, while the other ones are listed in a straight-up "just the facts" manner.

 

And if you try too hard to be 100% fair, you can find yourself giving voice (in order to "show both sides of the story") to individuals or groups or ideas that quite frankly, don't deserve it.

 

It does sound like SK has crossed the line between objective and advocacy journalism. Advocacy can be a great thing so long as it is backed by the facts, though not copping to being an advocate is a bit iffy. But if the facts are on Adnan's side, I applaud the work. I also understand the reality that everybody is so focused on everybody else's bias or angle that coming out and saying you are supporting or opposing something is going to cause a fair chunk of your readers/listeners to tune out immediately...

Link to post
Share on other sites
×
×
  • Create New...