Podcast Producer Snyder discusses launch of 'Serial', Season 3, Adnan Syed's new trial

May 4, 2018

'Serial' Executive Producer Julie Snyder
Credit Julie Snyder, credit Kirsten Luce

The murder conviction of Adnan Syed nearly 20 years ago, and possible mistakes in the case, has been made famous through the podcast, ‘Serial.’

The investigative work by Julie Snyder and colleague Sarah Koenig brought about a new kind of on-demand journalism when it was launched in 2014. 

Snyder and Koenig will speak Blacksburg this weekend, giving a presentation on ‘Binge-Worthy Journalism’ at the Moss Arts Center at Virginia Tech.

Unlike their years of work with This American Life, the women take several episodes to tell a story, rather than focus on a single idea over an hour.  

Their work resulted in the first-ever Peabody Award for a podcast.  ‘Serial’ was also in the news recently, as Syed was granted a new trial by the Maryland Court of Appeals. A date for that trial has not been set.

Snyder was asked whether she and Koenig would revisit that story.

That was definitely something we struggled with for a little while,” she said.  “We had our own reactions to the appeals process and to the rulings.  (We) spent so much time exhaustively documenting it, it feels like we should keep moving forward with the story – and covering the case.”

But Snyder and Koenig ultimately ruled against it, since so much other media now is focused on Syed’s case.  

Julie Snyder and Sarah Koenig
Credit Elise Bergerson

The second season of ‘Serial’ focused on Bowe Bergdhal, the Sergeant who left his Army base in Afghanistan in 2009, and was held captive by the Taliban for five years.

“There were a lot of people that I think thought of us as true crime,” she said.  “I just didn’t realize it at the time.  Sometimes there are these expectations about what Serial is.  I don’t know what else to do about it, other than keep on keeping on, and we just do the stories that I think are interesting to us.”

A third season of ‘Serial’ is now in the works, with a scheduled launch of this fall.  Snyder didn’t disclose what it's about, says there will be an entirely different structure to the story.

“We’re really proud of that, we’re really happy for it,” she said.  But if it weren’t us, it would have been someone else who paved the way of podcasting.”