As we’re all knee-deep in the first few episodes of the Serial podcast, I stumbled across a video of Serial host Sarah Koenig being interviewed on The Colbert Report. While Colbert doesn’t dig too far into the details–he mainly jokes about how Koenig has become a celebrity in the podcast world–the truth stands: Koenig has become a celebrity in the podcast world. She was invited to talk on The Colbert Report, after all, one of the most mainstream TV shows in America (mainstream, that is, until the show came to an unfortunate end).
Which begs the point: by hosting this podcast, Koenig is putting a spotlight on creative nonfiction as a genre, and the power it has to affect people in ways fiction simply cannot. As Steve already posted, Adnan is being granted an appeal due in no small part, I’m sure, to the success of Koenig’s research and the popularity of the podcast. There’s even one California teacher who’s using Serial to teach his high school students to analyze literature in a new and exciting way–all while fulfilling the new Common Core requirement to use more nonfiction texts in the classroom. The teacher, Michael Godsey, is using Serial in place of the usual text he teaches at this point in the school year: Hamlet. According to Godsey, his students have engaged in roundtable discussions of the podcast, studied the evidence in Adnan’s case for themselves, and written reports on the podcast drawing their own conclusions on the case.
So if Serial can teach a group of (normally) uninterested high school students to interpret a text critically, while also synthesizing the facts presented by Koenig to draw their own conclusions on the murder of Hae Min Lee, what can it teach all of us (as students of CNF) about the genre of literary journalism? Something to keep in mind for class tomorrow.
**In other podcast news, there’s a pretty cool interview with Joan Didion up on the New York Public Library’s website! During the interview Didion talks about her most recent book, Blue Nights, published in 2012, in which she reflects upon her daughter’s life, passing, and her own successes and failures as a parent. Check it out!