Tag Archives: Adnan Syed

Serial: all good journalism is voyeurism – and bad journalism too (but it’s still journalism)

serial podcast people map

After reporting on online journalism for some time you tire quickly of people saying “this is not journalism“. On Tuesday Brian C. Jones leveled this accusation at the podcast sensation Serial:

Sarah Koenig, the lead producer and narrator … used the tools of legitimate reporting — the right to public records, access to experts, the goodwill of interviewees, compelling soundbites, stylish storytelling … — to intrude into and disrupt real lives for the fun of it. It’s voyeurism, not journalism.”

Serial follows Koenig as she attempts to get to the bottom of a murder conviction she suspects may be a miscarriage of justice. The fact that she does not know whether it is or not is the basis of Jones’s misgivings:

“Real-life stories hurt the peopled involved … When the reporting phase is exhausted, it’s crucial to understand what kind of a story it is, and maybe whether it is a story at all.”

I think Jones makes a mistake common to those used to traditional journalistic production practices: firstly to mistake the subject for the purpose; and secondly to misunderstand modern journalism techniques. Continue reading

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