Thursday, November 20, 2014

As old as story telling.........

The newest buzz around the workplace is about a new podcast series called "Serial."  This is not something absolutely brand new..... it is as old as story telling itself.  People love to puzzle over a mystery, wonder who had pulled off the whodunit and tried to be the one to solve the mystery before an author reveals the answer.  The podcast is just the newest, hottest venue for presenting a possible mystery to a very broad audience.

The series is focusing on the 1999 murder of Hae Min Lee and her ex-boyfriend Adnan Syed, who had been convicted of her murder.  The podcast is the brainchild of journalist Sarah Koenig and releases a new episode every Thursday.  If this sounds very familiar to you......... it darn sure is.  It is just the same as reading a murder mystery novel or a true crime book.  I may know the outcome from the book jacket but I don't know how it got to that conclusion.  There have been dozens of books released as to who the "real" Jack the Ripper" was, all with their particular analysis of the evidence.

Stephen King even went so far as to release a serialized novel in an attempt to recreate the same experience that readers have had off and on since Victorian times.  The concept was used in film as far back as the silent pictures and were continuing stories or cliff hangers for the audience to enjoy and keep returning to the theater to discover the next installment.  I would say then, that is why I have not been collected up and driven along by the craze over "Serial".......... been there, done it.

It does not surprise me though that so many people in this world of instant access would be bonkers over a program such as this.  The problem for me though is that it has been done before and done better.  The viewers may buy that what is presented is all fact and therefore relevant because a journalist is digging her way through the minutiae of the case.  There are plenty of websites in existence already that are very active in analyzing bits of evidence or reported evidence in hundreds of cases and are completely interactive because of the discussions posted.

A person can certainly spend a lot of time discussing tiny bits of evidence such as how many steps the victim was from a point along their travel route or how the suspects choice of brand of shoes may have affected his actions.  All of this though doesn't really add up to a hill of beans in relation to the crime or suspects.  Well balanced reporting of a case requires balance and that comes from interviewing those involved.  You can use your personal interpretation of what you have read of testimony and/or evidence but is that really balanced or unbiased?

The case being discussed in "Serial" is not the first case to be questioned on any number of television programs or in books and it will not be the last either.  I do find it sad that so many people will swallow what is presented on the podcast as being the whole truth and not really question the significant flaws in the presentation.  The fact that a case is being presented for an audience to analyse also does not mean that everyone now has the "right" to insist on having personal interviews or have their own questions answered by individuals involved.  You do have the right to try and uncover as much evidence on your own in whatever has been made available prior to the trial or afterwards.

Just because you saw it or heard it on the internet does not mean that all of it is true or that it is all of the facts.

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