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"This American Life" retracts Apple Chinese factory story

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by rmanfredi, Mar 16, 2012.

  1. rmanfredi

    rmanfredi Active Member

    "This American Life" has decided to retract a story by monologist Mike Daisey on abuses at factories in China that make Apple products after finding significant fabrications in the story. The 39-minute long segment was excerpted from a one-man monologue called “The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs" that Daisey had been performing in New York in Washington. Apparently, Daisey exaggerated the number of workers he talked to during his fact-finding trip to China, claimed to have interviewed workers involved in incidents that he actually didn't and invented the most compelling story out of whole cloth (showing an iPad for the first time to a worker who had a hand mangled while making iPads but who had never seen one.)


    I'm a big fan of "This American Life" and they handled the post-incident stuff as well as can be expected. But man, that's a big screw up. I also don't buy Daisey's explanation posted on his blog:

    If that's the case, why did he claim that his interpreter had changed her phone number and was no longer reachable when "This American Life" producers tried to contact her for fact-checking. The show does present works that mix fact with fiction, or are total fiction (re: the complete works of David Sedaris) but those are clearly presented as such.
  2. RickStain

    RickStain Well-Known Member

    When you're on the right side of an issue, facts don't really matter.
  3. NoOneLikesUs

    NoOneLikesUs Active Member

    FoxConn treats all of its employees very well.

    The ghost of Steve Jobs and the Apple cult has spoken.
  4. HejiraHenry

    HejiraHenry Well-Known Member

    Um, that's what Dan Rather said

    Having heard the retraction show, I think this now becomes the gold standard for dealing with this sort of screwup. That said, if everyone had simply done their due diligence to begin with, the original segment would not have aired, and a retraction show would not have been needed.

    As to the "why," that's open to much speculation. Which I'll not get involved with.
  5. YankeeFan

    YankeeFan Well-Known Member

    I heard most of the retraction show as well. (Only missed the first couple of minutes.)

    They did handle it very well, but Daisey is an idiot.

    "It's true according to the standards of theater." Yeah, if you say it's a work of non-fiction, or based on a true story. You don't get up and say "I saw x happen" and "I met so and so" unless you saw it, and met him.

    And, you sure as hell don't let a news program run your story as if it's factual.
  6. waterytart

    waterytart Active Member

    Granted, this is a guess, but ...

    When I imagine the demographics for a Mike Daisey audience and the This American Life audience, I picture a lot of overlap. That audience now thinks of Daisey as the guy who knowingly let TAL put on a bogus story. Yep, he's an idiot.
  7. waterytart

    waterytart Active Member

    From now on, any legit investigation into this is going to be met by people feeling a little tickle in the back of their brains and thinking, "No, I heard these charges are bogus." Daisey has tainted more than this one show.
  8. NoOneLikesUs

    NoOneLikesUs Active Member

    The best thing for "This American Life" to do would be to send a legitimate reporter (or two) over there and really dig in. They have the talent to do it right.
  9. J-School Blue

    J-School Blue Member

    I was able to hear most of it this weekend. It was a very interesting to listen to Daisey try and explain wtf he'd been thinking, though he did indeed come off like a back-tracking moron. I'm surprised his monologue took this long to debunk given that his translator didn't support so much of it, but I'm guessing until the original "This American Life" story he wasn't getting that much scrutiny.
  10. Baron Scicluna

    Baron Scicluna Well-Known Member

    Nah. Just claim Daisey is only an entertainer. That'll do the trick.
  11. RickStain

    RickStain Well-Known Member

    That can't be right, it's not very entertaining to be lied to.

  12. Stitch

    Stitch Active Member

    I thought the show just used freelancers.
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