Being Judged: Podcasts

Podcasts are an interesting concept, as the prefix “pod” was originally coined by computer company, Apple. Apple used the term “podcast” for audio files that were sorted into a series, with the files being specifically formatted for the Apple iPod MP3 Players! Interesting how companies have coined terms that we use everyday without thinking about it!

The 1st Generation Apple iPod that was the intended user for the term “podcasts”. Now, it’s a historical relic!

Overall, I really enjoyed the podcast. “Serial” is one of the few podcasts I’ve listened to, and often don’t reach to listen to them often as they take up a lot of time. I enjoyed the content of the podcast as it was mysterious, interesting, kept me engaged and on the edge of my seat. The host, Sarah Koenig (who I later found out comes from a family of writers and journalists) kept me interested with her conversational tone, but also that she is a real person; not a celebrity trying to impress me with her interest in crime. The big plus for me was that I had no responsibility when enjoying the podcast; I didn’t have to do extra research, or keep my eyes glued to a paper or video. The podcast allowed me to keep it running in the background while I worked on coursework for our class while still understanding the content of the podcast!

However, I did find something very negative about podcasts in general; they are accessible to everyone with a computer which makes private details now public. My concern is for both families involved, and their privacy. Both the Lee and the Syed Families have their “dirty laundry” aired for a stranger (Sarah Koenig) to comment on their legal battles, and the loss of their daughter. I know that I wouldn’t want a media outlet reporting on something tragic happening to my family or having strangers online feel the need to comment on it, but that is the territory that comes with social media and freedom of media today.

For example, Adnan’s family friend, Saad made comments about how Adnan wasn’t being a “good Muslim” (in a joking manner of course) when he said how Adnan was drinking, smoking, having sex, and having a girlfriend who was not of their culture. I wouldn’t want these personal facts out in the open, especially if I was apart of a conservative culture like the Syed Family are apart of.

To add fuel to the fire, Rabia (as interviewed by Sarah in the podcast) wrote a book about the ordeal. She for sure wasn’t keeping this matter private!

My other issue with podcasts are the fear of bias; which Sarah acted upon when she was speaking to Rabia and Saad. There was obvious bias for the Syed Family, and Sarah didn’t mention the Lee Family in her investigation and research for the podcast. It would have been interesting to see both sides to the story, but I can also respect that the Lee Family may have wanted to move on with their lives, and pretend like this event didn’t happen (Asian cultures tend to be more conservative and private).

Going back to things I enjoyed about podcasts, specifically this one! Sarah’s voice was smooth and relaxing to listen to. This podcast was well researched and used different techniques such as dramatic story telling and changes in voices. There have been other podcasts I have heard, where the sound quality isn’t great and it’s more of harsh opinion than fact. This makes the podcast “annoying” to listen to because I can go and read online gossip articles if I want to hear someone else’s opinion on a matter. 

I have briefly touched on what the title of my blog talks about, but not into further detail yet. Good podcasts can give bias and judgment without giving off a “harsh opinion” or being annoying to listen to (as many radio hosts act like this, which sometimes turned me off from audio recordings in general). However, podcasts also indirectly make us pose judgements on other people or on different situations. We are presented with facts (such as Sarah did) on Adnan’s case, and are indirectly swayed to have one opinion or another. For example, she often interviewed Rabia and got her thoughts on the matter, which Sarah played into. I feel this is a technique used to get the listener hooked on the recording, and is able to formulate judgements based on what has been presented to them; which is basic psychology! There is nothing wrong with making informed decisions on a situation, but judgement based on one side (for example, this podcast) can pose problems for the future.

Judgement can be created by the law and by people looking at the mass media

Sarah starts off the podcast with talking to students about what they were doing; which most of them didn’t remember. It’s not as if they were hiding the truth, but we often don’t remember what we do everyday as many of the tasks have us on “auto pilot”, such as taking out the trash, going on the computer, and any other regular household activity. This is how we are programmed, and I know that many situations that have occurred while on “auto pilot” have gotten people in or out of trouble.

The autopilot issue is also raised by Sarah during the podcast, especially when Asia McClain (the possible alibi) is mentioned, and Jay (the possible other suspect). Both of these suspects couldn’t remember specifically what they did when the crime was occurring, not to purposely hide what they were doing but because it was that they were on autopilot and did not have the intention of remembering daily tasks.

A current “crime” story that is causing the media to make their own judgements is the parole of O.J Simpson. O.J Simpson was recently (on July 20th) given parole for October 2017 after being charged with kidnapping with a weapon, however the controversy with his previous legal battles is what made Simpson famous. Simpson was investigated for the murder of his ex wife, Nicole Simpson and her partner, Rob Goldman in 1994. Despite numerous pieces of evidence pointing to Simpson (such as an infamous glove found at the scene and the threat of suicide after Nicole’s death). With all the evidence presented, O.J was not convicted of her murder, however the world felt he truly did it. Why? Because of the psychology of judgement.

Does the guy in the middle look familiar? O.J’s lawyer during his murder trial was the late Robert Kardashian Senior: father of Kim, Khloe, Kourtney and Robert Junior Kardashian. O.J’s ex wife who was murdered, Nicole was actually Mr. Kardashian’s ex wife, Kris’ best friend. An interesting circle!

Similar to alibi within Adnan’s case, O.J’s alibi’s often changed. The difference is that Adnan’s alibi provided detail to accuse him right away, and then be drifted or pushed away in order to keep Adnan’s guilt. Why Asia McClain and Jay provided completely opposite alibi, and then were never to be seen again could have been a technique to incur judgement based on race or religion on Adnan. In addition, Adnan’s lawyer, Cristina Gutierrez, made numerous errors which causes her to be disbarred in 2001 due to her errors with Adnan’s case; was she doing this on purpose to keep Adnan in jail? Did she have a racial bias against Adnan, or truly felt that his alibi would never stand in court? Cristina died shortly after with complications regarding diabetes, however the big question is this; was personal judgement based on race or religion, or was legal judgement actually served? With the podcast, more people are producing judgement on the case, which can both hurt and help the situation; more voices may mean more information, but can also mean more opinions that are unwanted.

On the opposite side, O.J’s alibi (a limo driver named Allan Park) “dented” O.J’s alibi after trial to hurt him. Despite this blow of Allan basically telling courts that O.J “did it” (killing Nicole), he was still let off despite numerous pieces of evidence saying he killed Nicole. The big lesson as to why I am comparing Adnan with O.J is simple; judgement from the public eye can make or break your career.

There are many people that feel Adnan is not guilty, due to lack of evidence that was presented against him. However, racial bias against Adnan will automatically pose judgement on him, with the stereotype that Muslims are angry people; even though there is no evidence posed against him. O.J has numerous pieces of evidence against him, with the public eye making judgement that he did in fact kill his wife, however prosecutors never felt that this evidence was enough to convict him.

Judgement in media can be presented in numerous mediums; in this case, the Serial Podcast hosted by Sarah Koenig gave us an indirect way to pose judgement for or against Adnan. The beauty of media however is that as consumers, we can turn it off at any time; accept when we are offered our opinions on the matter.

Serial and other podcasts make the public pose judgement, using techniques as to what Sarah Koenig (shown here) uses to get the audience interested.

Works Cited

Guerrasio, Jason. “A New Documentary Reveals One Reason Why the Gloves Didn’t Fit O.J.Simpson.” Business Insider. Business Insider, 13 June 2016. Web. 21 July 2017 <;.

Heater, Brian. “Apple’s Legal Team Going After ‘Pod’ People.” PCMAG. N.p., 24 Mar. 2009.Web. 21 July 2017. <,2817,2343732,00.asp&gt;.

Koenig, Sarah.“Episode 1”. Serial. N.p., 2014. Web. 19. Jul. 2017.

Levenson, Eric. “O.J. Simpson Asks Nevada Parole Board for Early Release.” CNN. Cable News Network, 20 July 2017. Web. 21 July 2017.<;.

“Limousine Driver Puts Dent In O.J. Simpson’s Alibi.” The Spokesman-Review, 13 July 2011. Web. 21 July 2017 <;.

Shah, Mansi. “Improper Race and Religion References in Adnan Syed Trial.” N.p., 28 Jan. 2015. Web. 21 July 2017 <;.

Winter, Michael. “‘Serial’ Subject Blames Lawyer in New Appeal.” USA Today. Gannett Satellite Information Network, 23 Mar. 2015. Web. 21 July 2017.<;.


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