Sincere thoughts on “Serial”!

Stepping out of my comfort zone and experiencing new things isn’t my favourite, but Serial completely changed me. I didn’t like the podcast – I LOVED it. I’ve always been a

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The very famous front cover of Serial.

fan of Murder Mysteries and I like to think I’ve watched all movies relating to the genre. Podcasts however, haven’t been my preference but there’s a couple things which made Serial stand out and make its way into my heart.

As soon as the first episode starts, the fuzzy recording just gives a vibe that gets me hooked. Having Adnan’s voice adds a sense of realness and the music polishes it completely. The emotions invoked all range from curious; to impatient; to frustration, and then judgement. Serial manages to use witnesses, real life examples and different viewpoints to engage the listener in every way possible. Perhaps that’s why I genuinely liked the podcast so much.

In addition, this method of investigative journalism is pure genius. To start; “definitions of investigative reporting vary, among professional journalism groups there is broad agreement of its major components: systematic, in-depth, and original research and reporting, often involving the unearthing of secrets” (“Defining the Craft”).

 

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The lens that investigative journalism takes on examining key details.

Personally speaking, investigative journalism is something someone can have a strong passion for, or none at all. Although not many people might enjoy it, this podcast method of investigative journalism ties in aspects that a lot of people can relate to, proving that this format is actually a brilliant idea. By asking questions to the listener using an emotionally charged tone, it provides journalism on a level which other formats cannot necessarily execute as easily. It’s much harder to trigger feelings through reading a report of an investigation than to actually hear the pain, misery and sorrow through a podcast. 

Something a bit more negative and a fragile topic regarding this podcast is the impact that the victim’s family may feel. The impact of incarceration is not limited to the individual who is actually serving time behind bars. While inmates experience the direct affects of confinement, their families live their lives in the shadows of prison (“Families and incarceration”). After the nation wide success and popularity of Serial, it not only opens up the doors to public judgement, but the old wounds of family members.

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Adnan Syed’s family returning to the court room for Adnan’s hearing.

For example, the host mentions; “They told me about Adnan Syed… when he was arrested for murder, so many people who know him were stunned” (Koenig). If friends were stunned by Adnan’s arrest, it screams pain for the family. I can’t imagine what they must have went through when Adnan was startled awake from his sleep and taken straight to jail. Such memories never leave the eyes and heart and to think that the popularity of Serial just adds fuel to the fire is quite upsetting in terms of the family. Although I feel Serial is a way to raise awareness about Adnan’s case, it is much more excruciating for the family because it leads to more publicity and while people discuss, more memories keep flooding in. That’s why I’m a bit torn on how the family feels. There’s a sense of awareness but a sense of pain to think about Adnan as more people get to know about his case.

On a similar note, while there are some memories that are completely unforgettable, there are some which cannot be remembered at all. The host starts the podcast by discussing the challenges of memory, and for me, I tend to remember things quite well.  Whether it be a day with friends, the first day of high school or even my seventh birthday. I have strong visuals of most days simply because I try to find something significant to make me remember. But when thinking of tiny details which I don’t have a method of remembering, this is when it raises the concern of forgetting. As I was listening to the podcast, I kept thinking as if I was Adnan and what I would have remembered about the day that Hae was murdered. If nothing significant happened which would make me remember – then my memory would be going down the drain. But in Adnan’s case, his memory is the vital key in order to help him (“Adnan’s memory”). So although I didn’t get concerns about my memory, I was simply concerned about Adnan and feeling sympathetic towards him since I put myself into his shoes. The sole discussion of memory at the beginning just put me into an emotional state throughout the rest of the podcast as I was thinking of what Adnan might have done that day – but I’m not Adnan, so I can’t recall .

 

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What’s better; reading or listening?

The last comparison I want to make is between reading and listening to a text like this. First things first, reading is the traditional way that most people educate themselves. This can be from newspapers, tweets on twitter, to books. It has been proven that the brain absorbs information much better and it also has a greater retain rate when it is read(“Reading and rememberance”). However, the drawback to reading is the void of emotions – the voice can’t be felt and heard from a person sharing their experience. On the contrary, by listening to a text, the emotions can go straight to the heart and each ounce of pain, happiness, misery or whatever the emotion may be – it can be felt. For example, in the podcast, Adnan says: “There’s nothing I can do. So perhaps I’ll never be able to explain it. And it is what it is. If someone believes me or not, you know, I have no control over it” (Koenig). As i’m reading it this very moment, I can’t feel what Adnan is feeling and I can’t “see” it either. I know that neither reading or audiobook can make you “see” the emotions, but the use of sound effects or background music increases my ability to try and picture the image.

 

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Music can boost the mental imagery, making the method of audiobooks all the more beneficial.

It’s also proven that sound effects in an audio drama boost the level of mental imagery that listeners picture (“Inside the podcast brain”). So that confirms that there are benefits and drawbacks in both reading or listening to audio, but it’s personal preference. For me, I love audio because of the explosion of emotions it gives me.

So there is it! My first experience with podcasts and that too in my favourite genre – Murder Mysteries. I haven’t tried listening to podcasts for an extensive period of time but hey,… there’s a first for everything!

 

 

 

Works Cited

” Adnan’s memory” • r/serialpodcast.” Reddit. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 July 2017.

“Defining the Craft.” Global Investigative Journalism Network. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 July 2017.

“Incarceration Consequences” at NAP.edu.” National Academies Press: OpenBook. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 July 2017.

“Inside the Podcast Brain” The Atlantic. Atlantic Media Company, 16 Apr. 2015. Web. 21 July 2017.

“Reading and rememberance” Brainscape Blog. N.p., 14 May 2017. Web. 21 July 2017.

Koenig, Sarah. “Episode 01: The Alibi.” Serial. N.p., 03 Oct. 2014. Web. 21 July 2017. <https://serialpodcast.org/season-one/1/the-alibi&gt;.

 

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