Serial Productions | The New York Times, 2023
Author(s): Nancy Updike, Julie Snyder and Jenelle Pifer | Serial Productions, Staff | The New York Times
In a three-part podcast series that’s stunningly original in tone and style, Serial Productions and The New York Times told the story of a family’s tragic outcome from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Hosted by writer, editor and producer, Nancy Updike, the series explored the lives of a father and son who died from COVID after falling prey to misinformation about the virus. Both men had embraced anti-vaccination ideology and died within two weeks of each other, without medical care, at the home they shared together.
The Serial and New York Times teams told the story through an extraordinary series of interviews with the family’s sole surviving member who explains how her 67-year-old father and 44-year-old brother came to believe that COVID vaccines were more deadly than the disease.
Expertly written and produced, the podcast illuminates a deeper understanding of what motivated the two men’s anti-vaccination beliefs and by extension, provides listeners with a unique perspective on why millions of Americans chose to remain unvaccinated during the worst days of the pandemic. The podcast offers a fresh perspective on the issue of vaccine hesitancy and the deaths of more than 1 million people, alongside an intimate portrait of one family.
The story’s effectiveness is made all the more meaningful by Updike’s editorial integrity and her in-depth reporting. The thought-provoking series challenges listeners to consider the long-term choices America is making regarding the health and welfare of its citizens. Updike’s versatility as a reporter and a writer is evident in every episode.