My Thoughts on “Serial”, Episode One

Welcome back to another blog, readers!  Today, I’ve got something very interesting to discuss: cereal.

A very interesting bowl of cereal (Crawford)

Er.  No.  Actually, that popular podcast Serial, and the first episode of the first season.  For those, who don’t know, the first season of Serial is the story of the investigation a journalist, Sarah Koenig, does on the second-degree murder conviction of Adnan Syed.  Here is a link to the first episode, The Alibi.


Adnan Syed in a photo from Serial.

Personally, I really liked this episode.  I’m also not the only one.  The average number of times each episode of “Serial” has been downloaded, as of December 22, 2014, is 3.4 million (Roberts 14)!  Obviously, many people, including I, found it interesting to see how, even many years after Adnan Syed’s case was closed, people took up an interest in this young man, and whether or not he is guilty.  I love mysteries, and the justice system, and I think that many people enjoy these too.  Just the first episode of this podcast features mysteries such as Asia McClain and her missing, changing testimony, and which witness is telling the truth.  I expect many more of these mysteries, possibly with some of them being solved in the next few episodes.  It was after listening to this podcast that I wondered how the Syed family felt about it.  I thought that they would be supportive of the podcast, because it is bringing attentions to an issue that is still going on for them, and it might result in action happening in their favour.  I also worried that their initial excitement and hope would quickly be replaced with sadness, as the conviction has already been made, and was made quite a long time ago.  To see how accurate I was in my thoughts, I made a quick Google search, and found out, in an article from The Baltimore Sun.   It turns out that the Syed family was brought back to life, in a way.  The podcast and its popularity showed them that they weren’t the only ones in believing that Adnan is innocent (George).

A podcast logo (The Samplecast).


This is my first podcast, and I have to admit that I quite enjoy the experience.  It’s a lot like reading, but you are able to do something else while you listen.  For this reason, I think that podcasts are better at telling stories than books.  With books and reading, you can imagine the world and characters explained, but with podcasts, you can take your focus off, and lay back and close your eyes, and become fully immersed in the universe of the story.  To read, you have to stay focused, and you must devote your time and energy to reading alone, which makes it less attractive.  Also, reading may give you some details, but podcasts allow for different characters to have different voices, and different expressions and pronunciations, which makes what is being told more engaging.

Sarah Koenig, the investigative journalist and narrator of Serial, begins this episode by interviewing different people around Adnan Syed’s age at the time of the murder about 21 minutes on a Friday six weeks ago.  I really thought that the responses were quite funny, as two friends contradicted each other in their recollections.  It goes to show that the human mind can be influenced by a number of factors, and it can be difficult to recall what exactly happened.  Even memories from a few days ago are often distorted and changed representations of what actually happened at the time.  I, personally, do not think that I would be able to remember exactly what happened in that specific period, and I would describe myself as a person with a very good memory.  In a time without smartphones, the task gets even harder.  It will be interesting to see how, in future episodes, what evidence can be gotten from witnesses, and how reliable it is, from both perspectives; the defense’s, and the prosecution’s.

Sarah Koenig (Parco).

I think this podcast is an interesting example of what investigative journalism is, and what it can become.  This podcast has generated a great deal of interest, and has done a lot of good for Adnan Syed.  He is getting a new trial, where the evidence used in his conviction will be reviewed, and the evidence explored in this first episode, that of Asia McClain’s alibi for Syed, will be considered (Silman).  If investigative journalism done in this way can have this massive effect of being able to get a court to review a case over fifteen years old, and attract the interest of millions of people across the world, I believe that it should be done more often, on a variety of issues.  Investigative journalism is how the biggest stories break, and how the public learns about events and happenings that they otherwise may not.  This podcast started small, and snowballed into something much bigger than itself.  With websites, Facebook pages, Twitter hashtags, subreddits, and news stories all devoted to this cause, and begun because of this podcast and its impact.  Sarah Koenig has created something unique, and it will be something to watch in the future.

In conclusion, I think that Serial is a very unique and interesting podcast, and concept.  It is an example of how modern technology and social networks can influence the world, and shape media and people.  A great deal of good has been done, I feel, by Serial, and it will be interesting to see the outcome of Syed’s new trial.  I’ll keep listening to the episodes, and stay tuned to the news.  Until next time, readers!

Works Cited

Crawford, Elizabeth. “Healthy Cereals Could Help Industry Grow Modestly in 5 Years, IBISWorld Predicts.” 12 Feb. 2015. Web. 21 July 2017.

“Episode 01: The Alibi.” Serial. Web. 21 July 2017.

George, Justin. “‘Serial’ Brings Healing to Syed Family.” 20 June 2016. Web. 21 July 2017.

Parco, Nicholas. “Sarah Koenig Is ‘shocked’ That Adnan Syed Is Getting a New Trial.” NY Daily News. 06 July 2016. Web. 21 July 2017.

“Podcast.” The Samplecast. Web. 21 July 2017.

Roberts, Amy. “The ‘Serial’ Podcast: By the Numbers.” CNN. Cable News Network, 23 Dec. 2014. Web. 21 July 2017.

Silman, Anna. “The “Serial” Effect: Adnan Syed Gets a New Hearing – and Potential Alibi Witness Asia McClain Will Be Heard.” Salon. Web. 21 July 2017.