Reply All: #107 The Skip Tracer, Part I
October 19, 2017 9:09 AM - Subscribe

Sruthi Pinnamaneni follows the world's best bounty hunter on a peculiar case.
posted by Tevin (8 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Goddamn availability bias. Combine that with racism and xenophobia and you get these assholes.
posted by radioamy at 1:06 PM on October 19, 2017 [1 favorite]

I began to get concerned about this one when they brought in that woman with the "Remembrance Project," because I think I remember reading about her and what a darling of the far right she is. (Just go to their website, which currently has a headline about how she and Steve Bannon won some award from Phyllis Schlafly's "Eagle Forum." Shudder.)

In the interview she tries to paint this as being grounded in feeling sadness for the victims of crime. But crimes and murders are committed by actual American-born citizens all the time, so how come the only ones she cares about are the ones immigrants commit?
posted by dnash at 9:31 PM on October 22, 2017

There was some awful murder here in San Francisco in a touristy area not that long ago by someone who was undocumented. So much of the coverage focused on the fact that he was undocumented and had been deported 5 times. Ugh.
posted by radioamy at 9:58 AM on October 23, 2017

This really felt more like a This American Life story than a Reply All story to me. The "internet culture" component of hunting people down via their electronic traces was there, and I think it could have been told in a more Reply All style -- it seems to me like an editorial choice, and a disappointing one. I really like Reply All's sensibility and distinctive voice don't want to be a TAL clone. I don't think they were trying to be TAL on purpose, but they could have avoided it harder.
posted by janell at 11:25 AM on October 23, 2017

Agree with janeli - I would have liked to know more about the technical side of it! I wonder if the skip tracers wouldn't open up about their methods.
posted by radioamy at 12:08 PM on October 23, 2017

Interesting. Yeah, I was thinking this is totally a Reply All story: the tracer is totally reliant on the internet to be so good at her job! But somehow the narrative about her using the internet came in the form of "And then she was on her laptop for 3 hours" and that was mostly it except for the fact that there is this specific website for tracers to use.

I think that may be a difference in Sruthi's reporting style?
posted by latkes at 6:11 PM on October 25, 2017

Good on Sruthi for calling out the Remembrance Project people on their BS.

In spite of this, I reiterate my long-stated concern that the Reply All folks are in way, way, way over their heads when they're attempting to do this kind of Journalism. The Remembrance Project folks got a lot of airtime before finally being called out (and somewhat ineffectively, at that).

At least they're acknowledging that some of their stories revolve around some seriously terrible people.

While I'm personally glad they didn't go into more detail, I'm worried that there's enough content in there for the show to serve as an instruction manual for tracking down undocumented people, or provide tips for stalkers. (On the flipside, the content of the show could also be used by vulnerable people to help protect themselves from this kind of activity, so I'm a little torn.)
posted by schmod at 8:09 AM on October 30, 2017 [2 favorites]

the Reply All folks are in way, way, way over their heads when they're attempting to do this kind of Journalism.

This is so true, and I think the same of Shruthi Penamenani, whether she's reporting here or elsewhere. She's engaging sounding, but her approach way bigger on storytelling and curiosity than on journalistic perspective and context - and real-world outcomes.
posted by Miko at 9:07 PM on November 29, 2017 [1 favorite]

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