Room 20: Interesting story but with shaky ethical implications
Updated: Nov 1, 2020
The Premise (from Apple Podcasts):
The sign above his hospital bed called him Sixty-Six Garage. For more than 15 years, he would lay there unidentified and unconscious. Or so, everyone believed. From L.A. Times Studios and the team that brought you “Dirty John” and “Man in the Window,” comes “Room 20,” a story about the search for a man’s identity and the truth about his accident. Investigative reporter Joanne Faryon’s two-year journey is filled with twists and turns. Now, she'll finally reveal who Garage really is. But one important question remained for her upon this discovery: has Garage been conscious this entire time?
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The First Six Days
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Podcast Librarian’s Review: This is one of the hottest new podcasts of the summer. It’s a long-form investigative report (not true crime), so I wanted to wait until it was over so I could binge it all at once. It was a compelling and satisfying story, but I don’t want to say too much at the risk of revealing a spoiler. I’ve found the L.A. Times podcasts to be hit or miss, but this one is lauded for good reason. Beyond the solid production quality, it’s a unique and almost unbelievable story, so kudos to the reporter for following it all these years. I do have some reservations about the podcast because of criticism I’ve seen elsewhere on the internet; there does seem to be some ambiguity around the morality of recording audio of someone who can’t give consent, and some of the people interviewed could have been put at risk (though they did consent to be interviewed). Overall, though, this pod is a quick binge with episodes around 20 minutes and worth the listen. This continues a trend I’m noticing in investigative reporting pods lately; many pod hosts are now researching topics that are of a personal nature. In this case, host Joanne’s mother was in a coma, and she still struggles with guilt around her decisions regarding her mother’s care. Other examples are Kim Goldman investigating her brother’s murder (Confronting O.J.) and Jessica Lilly’s revelation about a family member (“He Died in Terror” episode of Inside Appalachia). I’m sure there are other examples, too (and if you know of any, please do share)! I’m enjoying the shows that go beyond a reporter being assigned a story and that instead reveal why the story’s importance is of a personal nature. In the crowded podcast space, it gives these podcasts that extra oomph to tug at the heartstrings of listeners and raise the stakes to get to the conclusion they want and need.