A true crime podcast helped free Adnan Syed but the killer has yet to be caught | Bidisha Mamata

In 2014, an audio series kicked off the podcast revolution and reinvigorated true crime documentaries. Serial was an American audio series created by Julie Snyder, Ira Glass and Sarah Koenig. It examined the 1999 murder of an American teenager, Hae Min Lee, and the conviction and imprisonment of her ex-boyfriend, Adnan Syed.

thanks to questions Serial raised about this murder investigation and trial, Syed had his conviction overturned last week.

It’s good for him. I now think of Hae Min Lee, the murdered woman. I care that speculative “empathy” seems to trump any desire for justice for murdered women and girls. Snyder, Glass, and Koenig are not prosecutors, murder detectives, forensics experts, criminal profilers, or perpetrator tactics specialists. They made a name for themselves in the media, unearthing the hideous trauma suffered by Hae Min Lee and her family. What a nightmare it must be for his family and friends; an endless, unresolved and obscene perpetuation of their horror as this woman’s murder is turned into entertainment industry content.

Snyder, Glass and Koenig can be said to be professionals dedicated to justice and truth, in which case I look forward to the next set of Serial. The one where they tirelessly search for the man who murdered Hae Min Lee.

Last rites and wrongs

King Charles III at the burial service for Queen Elizabeth II at St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle on September 19. Photograph: Reuters

It was a strange week, drifting into autumn after the Queen’s death and funeral. I covered the full 10 days for US TV, broadcasting all night from outside Buckingham Palace. The heightened emotion, pageantry and flower-strewn streets contrasted with our 4 a.m. hack world of Portakabins, mud and the Hollywood spectacle of journalists from around the world lined up under bright lights, speaking directly to the camera from the end of an era.

Carrie Johnson, who was in Carrie-Bradshaw-as-Anne-Boleyn fashion at Westminster, in her military-style Karen Millen coat dress and Jackie Kennedy pillbox hat. It looked awesome, though the cosplay as a horny king’s doomed Tudor mistress and a horny American president’s neglected wife is really quite painfully relevant.

I also have sympathy for the presenters of Australia’s Channel 9, who said Prime Minister Liz Truss was “hard to identify…perhaps an underage royal?” Truss has failed to distinguish himself so much that I accidentally call him Lynn Truss. She has the permanent vibe of a hapless office puppet who broke into a breakout space looking for a whiteboard pen on a day away from the company.

Nonetheless, Monday served up a glorious spectacle, with its brilliantly choreographed take on Windsor accompanied by music from Darth Vader. The bit that got me was the removal of the orb, crown and scepter from the coffin, which slowly sank into the family vault. Prince Charles looked like a 1,000-year-old elephant as he alternated between turning gray with fatigue and pink with sadness. As we enter darker and darker times, his grumpy emotivity fits in perfectly, alas.

All at sea

See Monster, a disused offshore platform in the North Sea, has been transformed into one of the UK's largest public art installations.
See Monster: A disused North Sea offshore platform has been transformed into one of the UK’s largest public art installations. Photograph: Ben Birchall/PA

Those seeking newness amidst the sadness of everything could explore the Unboxed 2022 project. It includes several public art commissions celebrating British creativity, the latest of which is called See Monster. Yes, this is a very hilarious game of sea monster words. See Monster is a decorated and disused North Sea oil rig in Weston-super-Mare. There is a waterfall and a planted garden. It totally mirrors Brexit Britain in that it looks like a gigantic rusty, algae-contaminated toilet cistern spouting bog water onto the people above.

Bidisha Mamata is an Observer columnist

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