This American Life: I Was Just Trying To Help

I listened to the I Was Just Trying To Help segment from This American Life. The segment starts with Ira Glass interviewing a circuit court judge, Sharon, who was fired from her job after what the court presumed to be giving legal advice to someone for a case. The person was convicted of rape many years earlier, before DNA tests were used in investigations. After DNA tests became a basis for prosecution, the man decided to file a motion for a DNA test to finally prove his innocence which was denied twice. Sharon provided her with some the paper work of another person who had successfully gotten a motion for a DNA test to the man which helped him get his motion approved. Though the court saw this as giving legal advice and fired Sharon.

The next part was about a charity called GiveDirectly who literally just give poor people money with no strings attached. Two reporters went to a village in Kenya to see this in action and see if simply giving people money will actually help them or make no change. They wanted to see if given money, would the people spend it responsibly to actually better themselves and their lives. They got some mixed responses. People they interviewed who received the money said they actually used the money to better themselves though when they asked what your neighbor did with the money, they got different responses. The people from the village claimed some of their neighbors who received the money spent it irresponsibly on alcohol and just buying food for themselves. The money even cause tensions between people who did and did not receive it.

The last part was about a program in Mendocino county California. The program was called 9.31 and was proposed by a sheriff in the country who stated in his plan to allow small farmers to grow up to 99 marijuana plants as long as they registered with the sheriff’s office and payed a fee to buy zip ties to put around their marijuana plants so cops would know not to mess with them. There would also be a lot of oversight from the local department which would give farmers a sense of protection. The plan worked very well and caused interest from other areas in California who considered trying the same plan. One of the first farmers to enroll in the plan became the poster boy for it. He ran a legit operation and was not breaking any laws as stated for California. Although since in Federal law, Marijuana is illegal his farm was raided. After the raid, the country was pressured by the Federal government into disbanding the 9.31 ordinance only allowing farmers to grow 25 plants with a letter from a doctor. Although, the transparencies between the farmers and the local sheriffs were gone. The marijuana farmers could not be sure anymore if they could be protected from the DEA.

This show seems to take a documentary style approach in reporting the stories. I felt like I was basically just watching a documentary minus the video. There was also audio stacking with the sounds of the environment and adding some light music. It makes the audio more interesting than just listening to some people just talk about a story for an hour. Also since this was essentially a documentary, this technique was the best way to help the story be interesting. Though I have listened to other podcast where it is literally just a few people having a conversation for an hour which I find enjoyable as well since it feels more loose and personal. I enjoyed listening to the stories since I generally enjoy documentaries. Though being that this was just audio, I felt as if I needed to pay attention to the dialogue more and other sounds since I had no visual cues to help me as well.

One thought on “This American Life: I Was Just Trying To Help

  1. I find the concept for this audio show very interesting because we all have had those moments where we were just trying to help, but it didn’t turn out the way we planned. I also love documentaries and really enjoy hearing and seeing stories like this. I completely understand your point of having to focus a little harder on the show since there were no visuals. You could have done a little better explaining the different audio techniques the show used, but I definitely got what you were going for. Overall great job!

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