What Is The 'Serial' Podcast, And Is It Okay To Be Obsessed With It?

Joseph Medina

Serial is an interesting podcast -- and a current online obsession. With a normal piece of investigative journalism, the reader is usually only given the information after its author has looked over the evidence in its entirety. A conclusion has usually already been drawn, and the case usually either resolved or marked as unsolved from the get-go. This isn't the case with Serial -- a serialized podcast where a nonfiction story is unraveled week by week over the course of a given season -- which may ultimately result in a dead end. Serial's host Sarah Koenig reveals this concept to Vulture while discussing details of the current season of the podcast, which opens up a fifteen year-old case involving the murder and potentially wrongful conviction of the victim's ex-boyfriend.

"I do not know how this is all going to turn out. I just read a piece on Slate that insisted I have some tricks up my sleeve and am manipulating the audience in some way, and that really couldn't [be] farther from the truth... I'm not far ahead of you. Episode Five just aired, and I just did a first draft of Episode Six this afternoon, so I am pretty much creating this thing in real time now. Yes, I could say, there was a point where I thought I knew the truth. And then I found out that I didn't know as much as I thought I did, and I did more reporting, and now I don't know what I don't know again... I don't know that I'll ever be at peace with what we find or that there will be a definitive verdict."
"Serialized nonfiction in the Internet age means that conversations that might have previously happened around the watercooler are now being published themselves. Which means Serial's audience is producing its own stories full of sleuthing, critique, and conspiracy theories. Slate even recaps the [Serial] podcast the way it recaps Mad Men."

Thought's on Serial's success? Does its popularity show a lack of empathy on the part of its listeners?

[Image Credit: Meredith Heuer]