For reasons I’m not ready to laugh about yet, I ended up spending twice as much time as I had originally planned traveling alone in the car last week – a total of about eight hours, instead of the anticipated four. However, I was not entirely upset about this, because the drive provided a solid amount of uninterrupted time to listen to Serial, which according to this article, has set iTunes records for being the fastest podcast to reach more than five million downloads and streams.
The topic of Serial is rather morbid – it centers around the true story of the murder of a teenage girl. If it weren’t for the extensive amount of solitary time I was facing at the start of my journey from Cincinnati to Indianapolis, I probably would not have chosen to listen to such a topic, being rather sensitive myself. But I was tired of listening to music, and my sister gave me an enthusiastic review about the show, so to the play button I went.
Hosted by Sarah Koenig, Serial is a podcast from the creators of This American Life. Over the course of twelve episodes, Koenig unfolds her investigation of the trial and conviction of Adnan Syed in the 1999 murder of his ex-girlfriend Hae Min Lee. Each episode, Koenig explains aspects of the case, from the trial itself to a profile of the defense lawyer, to interviews with Adnan’s friends, and she often includes audio of phone conversations she has with Adnan himself, when he calls her from prison.
The case is interesting; there are so many inconsistencies and wild details that got overlooked in the trial, but the main reason for the show’s popularity is how excellent Koenig is at delivering the information. She’s funny and likeable, but also objective. And Adnan is likeable as well. Though it’s not clear, there is a chance that he’s innocent.
The Innocence Project is currently at work on Adnan’s case, because of Koenig’s work in Serial. This is journalism at its best, which is to find the truth, reveal any injustices, inform the public and hopefully put pressure on institutions to improve their procedures. As a public relations professional who has a high respect for the field of journalism, it’s refreshing to see an example of diligent reporting yield such nationwide interest and response.
Have you listened to Serial? Leave your thoughts in the comments!