Few podcasts have become part of our culture the way S-Town, Serial and Missing Richard Simmons have. They have been written about, dissected and puzzled over more than just about any other audio story. And that’s exciting for the medium as a whole. The more chatter there is about buzzworthy shows, the more ears end up on podcasts as a whole. At least in theory.
But if any of those shows made you slightly uncomfortable, you’re not alone. These deep-dive narrative shows have raised a lot of questions about the ethical implications of the storytelling itself. Did John B. McLemore actually consent to revelations about his personal life? Why was murder victim Hae Min Lee so absent from Serial’s first season? How appropriate was it to speculate about Richard Simmons’ housekeeper, a private citizen?
Luckily, there are people whose job is to think through these thorny questions. Kelly McBride, media ethicist and vice president of the Poynter Institute, is one of those folks. For funsies, she also co-hosts the podcast Everyday Ethics. This week on the show, we pick her brain about all our burning ethical concerns.
Plus, we visit S-Town Hall, a forum hosted by the Third Coast International Audio Festival in Chicago, to hear some listener opinions about the hottest show on iTunes (and everywhere else). The S-Town Hall discussion has continued on Facebook, so check that out here.
Tell Me More Shows To Check Out!
- See Something Say Something — If you’ve been paying attention to the news, you’ll know that it’s a challenging time to be a Muslim American. Hate crimes and anti-Muslim profiling are on the rise. And then of course there’s the travel ban(s). Ahmed Ali Akbar’s podcast addresses all of that, plus dating, pop culture and American life through a Muslim lens.
- Maeve In America: Immigration IRL — Irish writer and comedian Maeve Higgins came to the U.S. three years ago. Since then, she’s been thinking a lot about immigrant life — her own, and other people’s. And in true industrious immigrant fashion, she started a podcast about it. Her show features immigration stories you might not read about in the news. Higgins is a podcast listener, too. She recommends: Reductress presents Mouth Time!, BBC Global News Podcast and S-Town.
Do you have a podcast recommendation you’d like to share with us? We want to hear it! Give us a jingle on the Pod Line at 202-885-POD1 and leave a message. Then we’ll put you on the radio and history will forever remember your name.
Thanks for reading, pals! ‘Til next time…keep listening, America.