Problems with Serial

Both of the articles make interesting comments about Serial. The one by Spook Magazine seems to come to broader, more negative conclusions about Serial than the Patheos article. From our perspective, the Patheos article actually seemed to be more critical of the cell phone evidence and the case than of the Serial podcast. We aren’t sure if this is so much a problem with the podcast as it is with the evidence. However, we do recognize that during the podcast Sarah and Dana came to some conclusions based on what the state had presented against Adnan. While they presented their doubt as to the reliability of the cell phone data, their conclusions may have been irresponsible since they had this doubt.

The Spook article did touch on some important and sensitive issues also. One of these, and probably the most concerning, is the fact that this is a real life tragedy and, realistically, it is being used for entertainment purposes. This raises some issues in regards to respect for the victim and her family. While Koenig seems to have attempted to provide a positive and accurate image of Hae, the image is still very limited. Much more focus, partially due to the available input of information, falls on Adnan’s side. Also, the very nature of the usage of the story for entertainment could, presumably, be causing distress and pain to Hae’s family and friends.

Another issue raised is the motivation for the podcast and the storytelling style that underscores it. While the point of the story upfront seems to be about finding the truth, there seems to be some slant in Adnan’s favor. We realize that while Sarah acts as though she has little bias, she is human and thus is unable to be completely neutral. However, many listeners of the story may not perceive the bias. The style of the storytelling enforces the feeling that the podcast is not biased. The way the story seems to unravel each week, based on investigation and facts can be misleading to listeners. We also agreed with the lack of input from certain characters in the podcast. While Jay and Stephanie played huge parts in the story presented, we do not actually hear from them. Not only were they a huge part of the story but they had the potential to show the side that does not work in Adnan’s favor. The closest thing we get to hearing them speak is when Dana and Sarah relate a single conversation they had with Jay. However, this still excludes Stephanie who seems like she could greatly contribute to the story.

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12 comments

  1. Lianne Woo · October 23, 2015

    I like how you addressed how the Spook Magazine article’s mentions of the issue about respecting Hae and her family. I’ve thought about that topic, but I was unable to put it into words, your group has done this and described most aspects with great detail. Good job!

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  2. ilovepizzablog · October 24, 2015

    Completely agree with the slant in favor of Adnan. For a podcast that presents itself as a non-biased, in-depth look at a crime that took place, the podcast is pretty blatantly in favor of Adnan. Interesting to see how the podcast is panning out though!

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  3. Jordan Takimoto · October 24, 2015

    I really agree with your second idea. It seems like Koenig almost exploits Hae’s death to entertain the masses. Like she mentions in the article, I would be curious to see how the family feels about the podcast.

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  4. Jose Fraga Calderon · October 24, 2015

    I agree with the fact that spook doesn’t touch on the sensitive issue. This podcast seems to be growing and I would think that it can reach Lee’s family if it hasn’t yet; this can move certain feelings for them and it can be disrespectful.

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  5. hypractv559 · October 24, 2015

    I think it is an interesting balance that Serial has presented in this story. There is a realistic characterization to real people in this case where in true investigative journalism would not be seen. The entertainment factor of who done it can take away from humanizing the people but it captures people’s attention and engages them.

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  6. Latrina Scott · October 24, 2015

    I agree with your response about how serial has using Hae’s tragedy as entertainment and does bring up some issues about respecting her family. I also don’t feel like I have a good representation on Hae and for the most part like you said they captured her in a positive way but making the audience feel bad for Adnan more than Hae is very problematic in my eyes as well.

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  7. Savannah · October 24, 2015

    I agree that the issue with the cell phone towers has a stronger influence on the actual case than the podcast. Although it does have an influence on the podcast I am not sure it should be considered a problem. What I do consider problematic is the way Hae is somewhat ignored. We feel very little emotional appeal to her side of the story. Her family is left out which leaves the audience with no voice from Hae. So I do agree with your response that serial uses this tragedy as entertainment.

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  8. Rosalinda · October 24, 2015

    I agree that Hae hasn’t been really represented in Serial. I think in order to really tell the “story” and the actual series of events that took place, Hae and her family should have been included. Or at least their opinion to what they believed could have happened.

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  9. joshrios93 · October 24, 2015

    I disagree that Koenig can’t be unbiased about this situation. She most certainly be unbiased and just provide the facts to us. If she did though, it probably would not make for a very interesting podcast so the fact that she shows biased information and acts like she cares has us all wanting more.

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  10. jrayford27 · October 24, 2015

    I didn’t understand the ethical topic of the article until i read your post. I had never really though about how the death of this real girl is being used for entertainment. Its interesting to realize how desensitized we are and how we find entertainment even in tragedy.

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  11. Kenia Guillen · October 24, 2015

    In my opinion, I completely agree with using Hae’s strategy as an entertainment purpose. It takes the main idea away from what actually happened, and instead of using sympathy it was used more towards entertainment purposes towards the audience.

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  12. Amanda Winans · October 24, 2015

    I agree that there is a slant in Adnan’s favor – but I feel like that was also obvious considering Sarah’s desire to take on the case after being contacted by Rubia. I would think that if she wasn’t in favor of Adnan there probably wouldn’t be s story let alone something that is divided into 12 episodes.

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