Aariz - Questions for Serial

Questions for "Serial", the podcast 1. The first episode begins with information about the podcast's sponsor. Like many types of media, podcast creators make money by selling advertising space. Podcast creators have to think carefully about who they sell advertising space—or in this case, time—to because it can affect the way the listener responds to the rest of the text. Who were the sponsors mentioned at the beginning of the podcast and what are they selling? (You may have to do a bit of research in order to find out who the sponsors are and what they do) What predictions can you make about the nature of the podcast based on the advertisers? There were no sponsors mentioned at the beginning of the episode, but after doing some research I found the 3 main sponsors of "Serial". Mailchimp, Squarespace, and Audible, each of which caters to a distinctly modern, digitally consumer. Mailchimp is a marketing automation platform and email marketing service that helps individuals and businesses connect online. Its association with "Serial" shows that the podcast is targeting an audience that is not only technologically adept but also possibly entrepreneurial. Next is Squarespace, known for its website design and hosting services. It is a perfect fit for yet again individuals and businesses who want to make a website. By making simple and easy to use web designs, Squarespace is often favoured by creative, independent professionals, and small businesses. The podcast's association with such a brand shows that an audience that appreciates meticulous storytelling, will like intricate web design. Lastly Audible, an audiobook entertainment service, is essentially perfect for them. It points directly to "Serial's" appeal to those who prefer auditory forms of entertainment and learning. This connection reinforces the podcast's intent to cater to an audience that appreciates depth, detail, and the nuances of spoken narrative. From these sponsors, we can see that "Serial" is not merely an investigative journey into a criminal case but is designed as a modern narrative experience, one that aligns with the lifestyles and preferences of a listener in 2023. 2. The episode opens with a recording and music. Describe the recording and the music. Each episode opens with this recording and music. What kind of tone do they set for the podcast? In addition to creating atmosphere, what purpose does the music serve? Right from the beginning, the podcast artfully employs auditory techniques to transport its listeners from the mundanity of their immediate surroundings into the mysterious world it seeks to explore. The selection of music, ominous and suspenseful, acts not merely as a backdrop, but as a character in itself, setting the stage for the unfolding narrative. This ambience is further intensified by the recording, "This is a Global-Tel link prepaid call from Adnan Syed, an inmate at a Maryland Correctional facility." The deliberate choice of words such as "inmate" and "prepaid call" serve not just to identify the speaker, but also to stir a host of questions in the listener's mind: Why is he incarcerated? What crime did he commit? Additionally, mixing this particular recording with the chosen music in the episode is a testament to the power of auditory cues in storytelling, as explained in our "The Medium Is The Message" lesson. Furthermore, beyond establishing the atmosphere, the music augments the gravity of the narrative. It
raises the stakes, intensifies the suspense, and deepens the listener's emotional connection. The podcast's atmospheric design evokes a sense of familiarity for seasoned consumers of crime and mystery genres like myself. Right off the bat, I felt a huge rush of nostalgia reminding me of series like "13 Reasons Why" and "Buzzfeed Unsolved." Even yet, "Serial" manages to stay unique despite these similarities, mostly because of its immersive audio format, which requires the listener to actively participate, visualize, and occasionally reflect, thereby deepening their immersive experience. 3. Describe the narrator's style of talking. Is she very formal or informal? Provide an example to support your answer. How does her tone affect the way you respond to the content? Sarah Koenig masterfully employs an informal, conversational approach, explaining a complex narrative in a more easily digestible way for her listeners. Her tone makes it feel like an easy-going chat, which is strategically designed to bridge the distance between the narrator and the audience, ensuring they remain engaged and invested in the evolving tale. Her conversational tone combined with her sincere curiosity creates a feeling of unity, As you the listener also want to learn the truth of the matter. This sentiment is exemplified when she says, "How'd you get to work last Wednesday, for instance? Drive? Walk? Bike? Was it raining? Are you sure?" Her direct questions to the listeners serve not only to highlight the difficulty of memory recall but also to pull them into a reflective journey, making them co-detective in the investigative process. Further into the podcast, Koenig continues in a similarly approachable manner, remarking, "I mean, can you remember where you were five weeks ago? Who you were with? Whether you stayed out late? It's tricky, right?" Such queries, though simple on the surface, are potent rhetorical devices. It demonstrates our weak memory while also asking the audience to imagine themselves in the situations being described. In yet another instance, her genuine wonderment is palpable as she remarks, "Isn't it strange how time plays tricks on us?" Here, Koenig's tone, infused with a blend of contemplation and bewilderment, encourages listeners to engage more deeply with the nuances and mysteries underpinning the narrative, which showcases an informal tone. In the end, listeners become co-detectives in Koenig's storytelling strategy due to her engaging, conversationalist and friendly demeanor. 4. The narrator, Sarah Koenig, is not the only person you hear speak in the podcast. When does she include other voices and why do you think she might do this? What effect does it have on the narrative and listener's responses to hear more than one voice? Within "Serial," Sarah Koenig strategically employs a melange of voices beyond her own, a decision that critically enriches the narrative texture and lends an unparalleled depth to Adnan Syed's case. Incorporating authentic audio recordings from pivotal moments authenticates the narrative and places the listener at the heart of the unfolding events. Due to the raw recording of these real-life events, the audience feels an emotional connection to the story, turning it from a detached account of historical events into an immersive experience that gives them the capacity to develop well-informed conclusions. Listeners can relate to various individuals on a highly intimate level because Koenig
combines her narration with these real voices, creating a multi-dimensional canvas. This variety of voice points of view avoids narrating in one colour, keeping the story dynamic and exciting. Additionally, by including these voices, the case's chronological complexities, from trails to testimony to a range of opinions, are painstakingly navigated for listeners through audio cues. One particular instance of this is the incorporation of Adnan Syed's voice. In the absence of such direct auditory input, listeners would be compelled to construct their perception of Syed solely based on external narratives, running the risk of forming polarized or misinformed viewpoints. Sarah provides a more real representation by incorporating Syed's voice, letting viewers interact with Syed's views, feelings, and statements. This up-close and personal interaction makes him more relatable, going beyond simple "he did this and he did that", showing him as a real, complex person. 5. At the center of this podcast is the question of Adnan Syed's guilt. Does Sarah Koenig reveal any bias for or against Syed in this episode? How can you tell? The main theme of the podcast is the big question of Adnan Syed's guilt or innocence. Sarah Koenig, in her role as both an investigative journalist and the podcast's narrator, endeavours to maintain an objective stance. However, the intricacies of human nature and the depth with which she delves into the case sometimes show a little form of bias, perhaps unintentional, but evident to discerning listeners. Koenig's profound immersion into the case is evident. As she untangles its layers, there is an unmistakable sense of personal investment, which could be interpreted as an inclination towards Syed's innocence. This is not to suggest that her investigation is compromised, but rather that her deep engagement has led to an emotional entanglement. I personally think that the sheer magnitude of effort and dedication she pours into the investigation creates an implicit hope that Adnan is not guilty. Syed's portrayal further shows this bias although, most likely not intentional. Koenig's description of him often leans towards the positive, subtly humanizing him and distancing him from the cold label of a murderer. Consider her observation: "What you can't miss about Adnan is that he has giant brown eyes like a dairy cow." Such descriptions, while vivid, inadvertently paint an endearing picture. This becomes even more pronounced when she follows with a contemplation: "Could someone who looks like that really strangle his girlfriend?" Although she immediately recognizes the folly of such an inquiry, labelling it "idiotic," the mere introduction of this line of thought can lead listeners to question the validity of the charges against Syed. 6. Based on this episode alone, if you had to rule on Syed's guilt or innocence, what would your conclusion be? On what would you base this conclusion? Based on the initial episode of "Serial," if I were to make a judgment about Adnan Syed's guilt or innocence, I would confidently say innocent. The validity of the accusations against Syed is called into question by several issues. For instance, the court's portrayal of Syed's duality, the juxtaposition of him being a "good Muslim son" against his alleged actions is problematic. This perspective could be seen as rooted in cultural stereotyping, implying that Syed's adherence to his faith somehow heightens the gravity of his alleged actions. It's a dangerous line of reasoning; personal faith or cultural
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