The second season of the wildly popular This American Life spinoff podcast Serial will reportedly investigate the disappearance, capture, and release of former prisoner-of-war Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl. But you didn’t hear that from us, because Serial’s producers would prefer other journalists not report what they’re working on, because it “makes our job reporting harder.”
That comment was reportedly made in response to a report by Maxim identifying Bergdahl—who was accused of deserting the army before he was captured by the Taliban in Afghanistan and subsequently traded in a prisoner swap—as the focus of the show’s second season.
It’d be, perhaps, an understandable reaction if people were scooping Serial’s reporting on a previously obscure story. But the Bergdahl case, now headed to trial, is front-page news, and plenty of people attended a preliminary hearing last week in Texas—among them, Serial host Sarah Koenig and Zero Dark Thirty screenwriter Mark Boal. Which is all to say, the whole thing is still essentially an active investigation.
Even so, Serial’s production manager would prefer journalists not report on the show reporting on the case.
When reached for comment, Emily Condon, a production manager for Serial and its sister program, This American Life, emailed the following response:
“We’d very much appreciate if fellow journalists would give us some room and not feel the need to attempt to dig into and try to figure out what you think we might be doing, especially since we’re actively reporting stories, and having a bunch of wild speculation out there makes our job reporting harder. Doesn’t feel very menschy. In any case, here’s what I can tell you: The Serial staff is currently working on several things simultaneously: Season 2, Season 3, and some other podcast projects. For now we’re not talking publicly about anything that we’re working on.”
Journalists doing their jobs: Doesn’t feel very menschy.