Investigative Journalism Podcast: Serial

Sarah Koenig hosts the investigative journalism podcast, Serial.  She narrates the events of a murder that took place in 1999.

In my opinion, a podcast was a very original way to circulate her report.  Unlike a

Serial, podcast hosted by Sarah Koenig

written investigative journal, a podcast provides the listeners with recordings of her interviews with witnesses.  This format allows the listeners to judge the tone of the witness’s voice and form their own opinions about the trial.

For this type of story, I prefer listening to the podcast rather than reading about it.  Given that it is non-fiction, I believe that reading this kind of report would likely become boring.  Reading the witness interviews would have been even less interesting.  It is more exciting for me to hear the audio clips of the interviews because I can attempt to judge the intentions of the witnesses based on the tone voices.  I believed this increased my engagement.  Sarah Koenig even states that it’s crucial to listen to this podcast, rather than read it.  On NPR, she says “You’re missing all kind of nuance that is happening in people’s voices” (Serial Host Sarah Koenig, 2014).  Although I prefer the audio format, a read through would enable me to better imagine the events and characters discussed in the report.  I felt the need to close my eyes in order to picture the scenes while listening to the podcast.  In my opinion, this is somewhat of a disadvantage associated with this format as I would have appreciated listening to the podcast while taking notes.

I found this podcast to be quite captivating and I would definitely continue to listen to the subsequent episodes.  The way that Koenig narrates the podcast is entertaining, as it is similar to having a conversation with a friend.  Additionally, she presents information in a manner that makes the listener become as obsessed with this murder mystery as she

Adnan Syed and Hae Min Lee

is.  Every time I began to believe that Adnan is guilty, there was a plot twist which made me question his innocence.  For example, I formed an impression that Adnan was definitely guilty after Jay described the manner in which Adnan had plotted Hae”s murder.  Even so, I questioned my previous belief when Asia Mcclain claimed to have seen Adnan at the library at the time that the murder occurred.

The majority of the subjects that Koenig interviewed do not have a clear memory of the day of the murder.  What immediately stood out to me is that Adnan does not have a a strong recollection of the events that transpired on that day.  I would not expect him to remember exact details of an ordinary day.  However, I find it questionable that he does not remember the events of the day his ex-girlfriend was murdered.  Sarah Koenig even mentioned in her podcast that people are more likely to remember specific details including a distinguishing event of an important or exciting day.  This begs the question: why is Adnan unable to remember the day of his girlfriend’s murder more clearly?  Could this be evidence of his guilt?

Several others who Koenig interviewed also suffered a lapse in memory.  The witnesses often had difficulty remembering exact details.  The witnesses also appeared to have a tendency to reconstruct events by assumption.  For example, Adnan said that he probably went to the library after school on the day of Hae’s murder because that’s what

Asia Mcclain, alibi

he usually did. I do not find this to be compelling evidence.  I also wonder if some of the events described by other witnesses or alibis  actually occurred.  Perhaps events that they honestly recall did not actually occur or transpired differently. For example, I question Asia’s statement that she talked to Adnan in the library at the time of the murder.  I wonder if there is a possibility that she confused the day in question for a different day.  Maybe she saw Adnan in the library the day before of after the murder?  “We lose the details of experience rapidly but retain our understanding of its gist much longer” (Barclay, 2013).  It is unlikely that I would remember specific details about an event from a few weeks ago.  However, I would definitely have greater recall if questioned about the day of my friend’s death.





Works Cited

Barclay on September 13, Rachel. “Your Memory Is Unreliable, and Science Could Make It More So.” Healthline. Healthline Media, 13 Sept. 2013. Web. 21 July 2017.

“Serial Host Sarah Koenig Says She Set Out To Report, Not Exonerate.” NPR, 23 Dec. 2014. Web. 21 July 2017.

Koenig, Sarah. “Episode 1: The Alibi.” Audio blog post. Serial. WBEZ Chicago, 3 Oct. 2014. Web. 19 July 2017. <;.


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