Serial would be nothing without its sources. The correspondents have used both primary and secondary sources. They used so many sources, it is difficult to go back and see which type of source they used more—but that doesn’t matter. They are both vital to the telling of Bowe Bergdahl’s story. There are various aspects, but they all come together through different perspectives of the situation, and some of them differ to make the plot of Bergdahl’s story seem unreal or untruthful.
The secondary sources are important because they show the opinions formed on Bergdahl. The news sources show what media wants the people of the world, of the United States, to know. Certain aspects were released, like the overall story of Bergdahl leaving his post and being captured by the Taliban. Another secondary source that was greatly used were interviews that weren’t directly the correspondents’; they are important because they show what Bergdahl or a superior may have said and they can either conflict or fit what Bergdahl told the correspondents of Serial. While listening to Serial, many articles about the area and the situation are on the podcast’s website. These help to make the situation more understandable, more concrete. . . but they also show very one-sided aspects. Opinions on Bergdahl’s capture had already been made.
Despite having the secondary sources, as good as they may be, they’re not as valuable as the primary sources: documents, statements, and the people involved. The people involved are the most important part of the podcast. For starters, correspondents interviewed people from Bergdahl’s journey, which can show that Bergdahl was telling the truth. In a prior episode, an interview contradicted something that was previously thought to be true in the podcast, a man who had seen Bergdahl during his Dustwan escape.
But the interviews don’t just discuss what did or didn’t happen. They show what the situation was really like. Platoon members of Bergdahl were interviewed to show what was really going on in the situation. The men also helped to shape Bergdahl’s character. Unlike the secondary sources, these men lived with Bergdahl; they knew him and his mannerisms. They knew he used a pipe instead of a cigarette, because he didn’t like smoking. They knew how smart and different Bergdahl was, how in depth he read the handbooks and that he was great at physical training; he was the ideal soldier—something the media wouldn’t dare get close to admitting. Even though some of the men ended up disliking Bergdahl for “betraying” them by leaving his post, they were willing to meet with the correspondents of Serial to share their take on the story, and many of them seem to fit with what Bergdhal had said, what Bergdahl had claimed his reasons for leaving were—there was an issue with superiors. This was vital, especially on the mission when they went to rescue a wrecked automobile and got trapped, dealing with fire and explosions while trying to get their machinery back to their area, out of enemy hands. This whole situation is so in depth and detailed; it’s war, and it is important to not just see the media’s side or just Bergdahl’s side. Lt. Col. Clint Baker was waiting for the platoon to return from that fiery, life-threatening mission, and his reaction wasn’t a welcomed one. He was too worried about their appearance than if all the men lived or not, not caring that they were put in high danger stakes. That didn’t matter to him, but it mattered to Bergdahl. In various interviews, he mentions how he didn’t ask about his men, and how wrong he thought it was that the interests of the men weren’t being considered. The others didn’t mention that, but they did mention the foul conditions. They also interviewed some of the superiors to get the full picture.
The approach of the reporters make the various aspects more compelling by asking personal, specific questions. They talk to so many people involved in the story; the reports are passionate about finding out the whole story, and reporting what they discovered. The reporters would even lie to the people they were interviewing to try and see what information they could get.
From Serial, it is evident that sources are everything. Without sources, primary or secondary, the story can’t be complete, and if it is, it won’t be as detailed as it potentially could be. To get answers to such a deep, controversial issue, the research had to be thorough and the reporters had to talk to everyone they could. Research, thorough research, is vital for a story like Bergdahl’s. Getting one answer to a question, one perspective, simply isn’t enough.