Unsolicited Endorsement: ‘Undisclosed,’ the podcast

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1z8-eXeqby Eric Ginsburg

You’ve heard of “Serial,” and maybe even listened to the hit podcast. And that’s great, because it’s incredibly engaging storytelling on an important topic that also helped normalize a medium. But if your interest in the case of Adnan Syed, the focus of the NPR-produced podcast, ended there, you’re cheating yourself.

The depth of investigative work by “Serial” is impressive, but after listening to a follow-up podcast called “Undisclosed,” you’ll be reeling. That’s because there are so many things about Syed’s case and how Baltimore detectives constructed it that remained unexamined by “Serial” that this newer series feels almost like a different story altogether.

Hosted by Syed’s family friend Rabia Chaudry — who is also an attorney and national security fellow at the New America Foundation — along with University of South Carolina School of Law Associate Dean Colin Miller and Volkov Law Group associate attorney Susan Simpson, the “Undisclosed” podcast has a decidedly different feel than “Serial.” It’s anchor-oriented, more discussion-based and it’s easy to tell the producers have less of a background in audio production and journalism. But the keen eyes of the three attorneys continuously uncover gripping, heartbreaking and enraging new facts with each episode.

Listeners may not hang on every word the same way they were glued to “Serial” as if it were their only source of oxygen, but “Undisclosed” is ultimately far more compelling. To say that the hosts’ ability to clearly explain legal jargon, parse out possible scenarios and draw parallels to other cases is compelling would be an understatement. You simply must — after listening to “Serial” if you haven’t already for necessary context — download “Undisclosed.”

This season of the podcast is still underway, but the hosts have announced their intentions to continue and focus on a different case for a future season. They’re looking for candidates, and the racketeering indictment and wrongful conviction of Greensboro’s Jorge Cornell should be a prime candidate.

All the elements of a fascinating story are there: a problematic — and now disbanded — police department gang squad, a federal informant and self-interested defendants-turned-state-witnesses with conflicting stories, a lack of physical evidence, a muddled decision by the jury, an outpouring of community support from clergy and college professors contradicting the state’s portrait of a criminal mastermind…. At the very least, Chaudry, Miller and Simpson should consider it.

Because if anyone can get to the bottom of what went so horribly wrong in Cornell’s case, I have to believe, after clinging closely to “Undisclosed,” that this podcast is it.

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