The podcast Serial, created by the staff of This American Life, ended its first season in mid-December with an estimated 40 million downloads. A year in the making, reporter Sarah Koenig was ultimately unable to decide whether high school student Adnan Syed, now serving a life sentence, was guilty of murdering his ex-girlfriend 15 years ago. The key witness in the case, Jay Wilds, refused to give Koenig an on-tape interview. But last week The Intercept got Wilds to talk. What he said about Koenig led opponents and defenders to debate her journalistic integrity. Bob Priddy joined Missouri School of Journalism professors Earnest Perry and Mike McKean to discuss the issue on KBIA-FM's media criticism program, "Views of the News."
In Wilds' interview he tells a different story from the one he told 15 years ago, and accuses Koenig of creating "an evil archetype of me and sensationalized my motives.” McKean disagreed with Wilds' assertion, citing Koenig's willingness to create a 13th episode if Wilds would go on tape. Priddy also took issues with Wilds statement that he was "ambushed" by Serial reporters.
Koenig's work shines a light on the challenges of eyewitness testimony, and the difficult nature of navigating the criminal justice system. Perry said for him, the podcast showed how important the skill of a defense attorney can be.