I have finally started listening to Serial. I’m fond of This American Life, so am unsurprised that I am enjoying the spin off. I’ve read some of the why-Serial-is-problematic commentary, and a few episodes in my overall reaction is that it’s good to bring up issues of white privilege, (mis)representation, etc.—that’s a thoroughly reasonable angle to critique—but it doesn’t feel like there’s a fatal flaw for a piece in this genre of reporting. It’s mostly important to remember that it is a genre, with its strengths and limitations and intended audience.
The thing that made me identify with Koenig—and yes, I am the intended audience, and as such I am absolutely intended to identify with Koenig rather than the victim, convicted murderer, or any of the other players—was discussed up front. The ways in which her work became personal; the fact that this case became hers simply by virtue of being in front of her. I’ve become fascinated with a quilt and a toy meat grinder, and came to care about Canadian railways thanks to my first archival crush, Norman Jacobs. I understand the obsession Koenig references.
I am also sympathetically uncomfortable with the object of her obsession. In an earlier version of the preceding paragraph, I referred to Norman Jacobs as my Adnan Syed. But that isn’t accurate. By virtue of their birth dates, the equivalency is false. Investigating their stories is technically different; the impact of telling those stories is likewise different. I prefer my cases significantly colder than Koenig’s.