The Phenomenon of Serial

I’m not going to go into great depth because by now you will either be aware of the Serial podcast (if you make use of any social media at all), or not (if, like me, you tend to avoid the bulk of social media chatter).

Serial is an ongoing and currently live podcast exploring the evidence around a 1999 Baltimore murder of Hae Min Lee, an 18-year-old high school student. The podcast is released in a serial format, and is produced by people attached to This American Life. Whether it is a ‘spin off’ of This American Life is debatable, but there’s certainly a lot of the same names involved.

But what’s so interesting about a podcast? Why post about it as a ‘phenomenon’? Serial has gone viral in a way that no other podcast ever has. People have been calling it a breakthrough in podcasting – the biggest podcast ever to have graced the internet. Aside from spawning podcasts discussing the podcast, spoofs, Reddit subreddit sites and endless articles (like this one), Serial has pushed a massive number of amateur sleuths into examining the murder case in question – and the very questionable looking trial and conviction that came from it. It’s starting to look like actual judicial motion may be occurring. It’s looking like a podcast has drawn so much attention to the questionable conviction connected to the case that the machine of justice has been forced to creakily respond.

I’ve been intentionally vague about the details in case you decide you’d like to go and check out the first episode. It’s probably better to get the details straight from the source. Without a doubt Serial is the podcast of the moment.

About Christopher Johnstone

Christopher Johnstone lives in Melbourne
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