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Should Real Life Murder Cases Be Used For Our Entertainment?

The Serial podcast was an interesting listen. As someone who watches a lot of crime television shows and is interested in investigative journalism, I found the podcast exceptionally well done, definitely up to par with other series (mainly tv ones), maybe even better than the older, boring ones like Law and Order.

I would of liked Serial better if it was in a video format. I think podcasts- in just an audio format- are a horrible way to showcase “investigative journalism” – if that is what we are calling Serial. Podcasts are something that people play while commuting or working out. So something that is meant to be detail oriented or focused on, I wouldn’t use it as background noise. I am not someone who can just stand/sit there and listen to something.That is not to say that I can’t stand there and can’t listen to people talk face to face because that actually engages more of me, but just solely listening to audios are incredibly boring, no matter how much I like the content. I find I have the same problem with talking on the phone to people, I just can’t do it, it is going to be brief- we either have to see each other in person or text. I will start doing other stuff while talking on the phone and that means I’m half listening to the conversation and also some other menial task. So in my opinion, podcasts aren’t a great way to get across to me or interest me. I also didn’t think it did Serial enough justice and again would prefer it to be a mini television series.

HBO gets the idea and is doing a documentary called “The Case Against Adnan Syed (2019)”

If I had to choose between audio format or reading, I would prefer reading. Again it depends what it is. For leisure activities I would prefer audio because my mind doesn’t want to work that hard (audio preference like music- not podcasts). If it is for studying or work I would prefer to read. 

“There are differences between print and audio, notably prosody. That’s the pitch, tempo and stress of spoken words. “What a great party” can be a sincere compliment or sarcastic put-down, but they look identical on the page. Although writing lacks symbols for prosody, experienced readers infer it as they go. In one experiment, subjects listened to a recording of someone’s voice who either spoke quickly or slowly. Next, everyone silently read the same text, purportedly written by the person whose voice they had just heard. Those hearing the quick talker read the text faster than those hearing the slow talker.

But the inferences can go wrong, and hearing the audio version — and therefore the correct prosody — can aid comprehension. For example, today’s student who reads “Wherefore artthou Romeo?” often assumes that Juliet is asking where Romeo is, and so infers that the word art would be stressed. In a performance, an actress will likely stress Romeo, which will help a listener realize she’s musing about his name, not wondering about his location.

It sounds as if comprehension should be easier when listening than reading, but that’s not always true. For example, one study compared how well students learned about a scientific subject from a 22-minute podcast versus a printed article. Although students spent equivalent time with each format, on a written quiz two days later the readers scored 81 percent and the listeners 59 percent.

What happened? Note that the subject matter was difficult, and the goal wasn’t pleasure but learning. Both factors make us read differently. When we focus, we slow down. We reread the hard bits. We stop and think. Each is easier with print than with a podcast.” ( 

Memory is a major topic at the beginning of this podcast. Sarah and a few others she interviewed mention that when trying to think of something they did a while back they have no idea what they were doing and it is only if something significant happens that events of the day are more clear. I differ from most people in that aspect, my memory is excellent. I can definitely tell you what I was doing three years ago. Especially during significant events, even from when I was a child, I can tell you exactly what I was thinking, doing, what I saw, what I perceive from the people I interacted with that day. 

As a closing remark to this personal reflection on the Serial podcast I think it’s appropriate to remind people that this is a true crime- which means it’s literally people lives we are discussing and that sometimes the feelings of these people are often left out of discussion. I can’t imagine having to be reminded in the media of the investigation involving my daughters death or the possible wrongful conviction of my son, or having my conviction publicized like this. Also I wouldn’t be able to sit back and ignore anything, I would of been guns blazing from the second anyone even considered my child a suspect or from the moment my daughter was murdered. The fact that this is true makes it hard for me to input my opinion because I can feel for the people this affected. And I think more people should have that same consideration. Also I just don’t think it is possible to have a case this undecided- especially murder cases. There are distinct things about murderers that sets them apart. Where is the psychological evaluations of everyone involved? I find it hard to pick a side here because I don’t like to sit here and look at evidence someone is giving me and interpret an opinion from that. Especially with how much we are taught about bias in the media. There are things I am not shown and can’t look at to judge for myself, so therefore don’t want to pick guilty or innocent. Another thing is that, this is just a podcast, and though someone did put in a lot of effort to get details for a case and critically think and deliberate on the case, it is still put together as a means of entertainment, value and money is in entertainment. How much truth is in it when it is put together for entertainment?

Lastly, I included this video of celebrities and their reactions to Serial- it is a perfect way to summarize how good Serial is..that is, how it takes you on a journey of is he or isn’t he? Serial does a good job of stringing you along. Almost everyone is hooked!

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