Sarah Koenig and Serial

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Television shows are special in the fact that you see a story unfold in front of you across multiple episodes, with each one building on the one before it. The podcast Serial follows this format to unfold a story that has to deal with a crime.

Sarah Koenig, who spends multiple weeks and episodes telling one story, starts off Serial about a murder that took place back in 1999. Hae Min Lee, was strangled to death and her ex-boyfriend, Adnan Syed was convicted of the crime and had spent the last 15 years in prison for it.

The case was held together by one “witnesses” testimony, and the outcome hinged on a 25-minute period following school on January 13th. Syed wasn’t able to prove he couldn’t of murdered Hae because his memories of that day were cloudy, so he lost his case and was convicted or murder.

Koenig in the podcast is contacted about the story and then she begins to launch her own investigation on the matter. In the first episode she checks, with all those that were involved with the case, as well as someone who wasn’t mentioned in the trial, she also goes to the library Syed was supposedly at, just to find that there was no evidence of him being there on January 13th, the day Hae was murdered.

Photo of Sarah Koenig, the voice of Serial

What’s odd about Koeing’s writing style is that she tends to write herself somewhat into the story, telling the listeners things like,“She told me” or “I went to their office” and “I later fact checked that.” Its something that isn’t seen in traditional journalism, and It actually works well, because as the listener I wonder like, did she fact check this info, and then she later states that she did, even though she added it in the I did this sense. She also mentions in the first episode that she “Has a fascination with this case.”

Koenig also adds detail, and asks questions that aren’t really relevant to the story, like why the court papers were discolored and looked wet, just for the response they were in and out of a car for 15 years. It’s not necessary to the story, but adds depth. Another example of were she adds depth to the podcast is when she throws in info that isn’t really need as well. Like how the jury took a lunch break while deciding Syed’s case and tat it happened in just a few hours, while the whole trial itself was long and took six weeks. “just after a few hours…. including a lunch break..”

Overall, Koenig is very clear when she speaks in the podcast, she articulates herself well, and the tone she uses through the podcasts makes it interesting for listeners. Even thought I was only obligated to listen to two of these podcasts, I wont up listening to all the ones related to this case. That’s why Serial is a good example of what a podcast should be and Koenig did an amazing job, and that’s just with one story.


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