I just have to weigh in on Serial like everyone else

2014-12-15-serialsociallogoI’m finally going to get out of my blogging block and start being a writer again. It’s a decision I’ve been trying to make for several weeks, but something has inspired me. That something was Serial. I’ll talk about that funk I was in later, but for now lets get into the important thing. Serial.

I did not consume the Serial podcast like it was meant to be consumed. I had been hearing about it for a while, and when I saw all the stories about the finale on my favorite journalism blogs/ social media, I thought I better check it out. So I started listening yesterday and finished this morning. I got a little addicted. A little obsessive. It’s probably good that I didn’t have to wait over 12 weeks. That would have been rough.

Anyways, I have a couple of impressions. The first thing I realized was that Podcasts were really cool even though I have always thought they were kind of inferior and lame. I was being a stereotypical youngster and operating on the assumption that if you’re going to do media, you should go full out for video. Who would choose to just produce audio? Well obviously someone with radio background, but it was more than that.

The audio only nature of podcasts allowed me to listen while I was doing other things. I’m one of those people who need constant sound; I’m never working without music or something playing on Hulu/Netflix. I don’t like silence. Video is distracting but podcasts were not as much. Even with the fascinating nature of the narrative, I could listen while I was driving to/from work and while I was wrapping presents for Christmas.

So the form was interesting. It was a truly fascinating story and was well told. It was suspenseful but still real. It was a journey for listeners and journalists alike. I loved that I didn’t have to read all the details of an incredibly complex case. I think the story would have lost it’s punch without the voices. But I also like that I never saw any faces and could look at things like evidence outside of the Podcast if I wanted.

What I liked most of all was how feasible it was for a new way to encourage long-form investigative journalism. Serial had hype and popularity in a way that a series of articles or book is unlikely to get. It was more interesting than sitting through a documentary. It was free, but it worked out some of the funding quirks. Audio is easier to produce than video but in this case, it worked just as well. It was just a masterpiece.

I’ve been hearing for a long time that long-form journalism is dying if not already dead, but here it is alive and well. It made my little journalist heart pitterpatter with happiness and excitement. I can’t fully explain how hyped up my listening experience made me.

Were there flaws in Serial? Sure. I will get into those later. But I think it was mostly successful and I feel totally ready for a revival of a form that I’ve always loved but couldn’t consume as much as I wanted. These people’s stories matter and I think there’s value in sharing them, as confusing and unclear as they are. I’m ready for season 2 but even more, I want to see where else this idea will fit and how else it can be used. What do you think?


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