Thoughts ...

A Serial to ensure all facts are agreed upon before a decision is made

A colleague mentioned that he loved the podcast so much he couldn’t believe that the story was made up – he was doubled over to be told that it was a true story …

In case you’ve managed to miss the most viral podcast sensation for a long time, it’s called Serial and tells the story of the investigation of the brutal murder of Hae Min Lee in Baltimore.

On January 13, 1999, a girl named Hae Min Lee, a senior at Woodlawn High School in Baltimore County, Maryland, disappeared. A month later, her body turned up in a city park. She’d been strangled. Her 17-year-old ex-boyfriend, Adnan Syed, was arrested for the crime, and within a year, he was convicted and sentenced to spend the rest of his life in prison. The case against him was largely based on the story of one witness, Adnan‚Äôs friend Jay, who testified that he helped Adnan bury Hae’s body. But Adnan has always maintained he had nothing to do with Hae‚Äôs death. Some people believe he‚Äôs telling the truth. Many others don‚Äôt.Extract from the Serial website.

The investigation runs over a number of podcasts, narrated and investigated by Sarah Koenig (an American journalist and a producer of the radio program This American Life) where a young girl was brutally strangled by her ex-boyfriend Adnan Syed who, after conviction, is serving a life sentence but still maintains his innocence 15 years later.

Sarah reviews all the evidence (which is available) uncovering court transcripts, recorded interviews and actually speaking to many of those involved with the case – including the convicted Adnan Syed.

The podcast has generated a massive stir around the world, some listeners have turned into investigators themselves – looking at all the available evidence to form a view and others have indicated that when a conviction becomes more important than the assumed burden of proof – the system may be broken.

Having intensely listened to the podcasts, you start to realise that what seems clear is not actually clear? 

A few thoughts came to mind

(1) Responsibility

Is quite a simple word although a very important one, without all those involved taking the appropriate responsibility for their roles you’ll find things may be missed or dropped.

Many of us take short-cuts and make assumptions that we can internally reconcile as ‘this must be what happened‘ but without some form of scrutiny or reconciliation how can we be sure that it happened that way?

Surely without ensuring all parties undertake their responsibilities fully – how can we be certain?

(2) Agree what the facts are and move on

I’ve written about this in previous blogs, it involves simply agreeing on the facts, which will be items of information, events and activities that all the parties agree upon, and then spending most of the remaining time addressing things that you don’t agree on – in a sense to establish them as facts (what you all agree upon).

The interesting point is being able to differentiate between what are actual facts such as ‘it was sunny’ which can be collaborated by outside sources and what are statements that are not facts but can be agreed upon by consensus.

Now don’t get me wrong, there are lots of creative ways of looking at this – no one approach may be right – ultimately the aim is ensuring that justice is being done and seen to be done, if like me and after listening to the podcasts, you’ll probably question whether it’s been done?

Having recently listened to episode 10, I’m as much addicted as I was after listening to episode 1 …