Koenig’s ‘Serial’ Strikes Syed’s Case Skillfully

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Sarah Koenig’s ‘Serial’ has taken the world of podcasts by storm.

Yesterday I had the pleasure of listening to and analyzing Sarah Koenig’s podcast, ‘Serial.’ I thoroughly enjoyed this suspenseful recording of her investigation of Adnan Syed’s alleged murder of his ex-girlfriend, Hae Min Lee. It weaves a tale that you cannot help but be sucked into. At times I was convinced that Syed was innocent, and at others I believed he was the stone-cold killer that the media painted him to be. It was almost too easy to empathize with a person who is behind bars for the killing of a young girl, but that is what I liked about the podcast. You get to play the devil’s advocate in your head while following on, and you have the ability choose a truth to believe in.

adnan syed
Adnan Syed at the courthouse after a day of hearings for retrial.

This being said, I think Lee’s family has some negative feelings about the podcast’s popularity.  They say that “‘it remains hard to see so many run to defend someone who committed a horrible crime, who destroyed (our) family, who refuses to accept responsibility, when so few are willing to speak up for Hae. (Fenton, The Baltimore Sun)” While Koenig looks at two possibilities as to what happened to their relative, the Lees feel uncomfortable – and even angry – that this whole investigation is being brought to light again through ‘Serial.’ They are thoroughly convinced that Adnan is to blame for the 19 year-old’s death.

hae min lee
Hae Min Lee (1980-1999), allegedly murdered by Syed.

Even though these are the sentiments of the family, it is understandable that Adnan has so many supporters. Fans who claim that they “just want him to get a new trial. (AFP, The Express Tribune)” have grown attached to the idea of his innocence. ‘Serial,’ the medium where so many have been made familiar with the case, does not hold a bias against him (if anything, for him) and transforms the case into something reachable. The audience doesn’t need to endure any stuffy police statements or government-endorsed beliefs. Instead, they listen to Koenig – an average woman who is simply fascinated with the murder – among other potential witnesses and even Syed himself. This, to me, gives way for the development of empathy for the alleged killer due to the of the lack of formalities and familiarity.

Hey, I get it. The podcast allows investigative journalism to have a new life – it gets its audience to care more through its convenient medium. People, especially millennials, are addicted as “a solid 38% (…) listen to podcasts according to Edison Research. (Podcast Motor)”  I know that for myself, there is no trial for ‘Serial’ podcast. It completely ensnares the imagination and will keep me hooked for many more episodes to come.

Works Cited

Fenton, Justin. “Hae Min Lee’s Family Says Syed Hearings Have ‘reopened Wounds Few Can Imagine’.” Baltimoresun.com. N.p., 07 Feb. 2016. Web. 21 July 2017.

AFP. “‘Serial’ Hero Adnan Syed Gets Second Chance in US Court.” The Express Tribune. N.p., 10 June 2017. Web. 21 July 2017.

“4 Ways Millennials Are Changing the Way We Consume Audio.” Podcast Motor. N.p., 29 Aug. 2016. Web. 21 July 2017.

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