Honesty: The Difference Between Journalism and Art

As I watched the Bucknell Forum production of The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs, I considered how the interruptions evaluated elements of Mike Daisey’s original monologue. I enjoyed the explanations of Chinese cultures that various professors brought to the forefront and how these challenged Daisey’s claims. I felt that these rebuttals of sorts made the audience develop their own stance on particular issues, especially regarding the economic implications on factories in China. Continue reading Honesty: The Difference Between Journalism and Art


How do you make people care?

After listening to the TAL podcast that retracted “Mr. Daisey and Apple” the one line that stuck with me was when Mike Daisey said, “I wanted to make a monologue that would make people care.” Well, Mike Daisey certainly made people care. He made people care about the ethicality and truthfulness behind a story. So, how did he do this? Continue reading How do you make people care?

Search for Truth

After listening to the retraction of Mike Daisey’s story on This American Life about Apple and Foxconn, I didn’t really know what to think. It made me question every little part of his story, and assume nothing he said was credible, but at the same time, I still have a lingering doubt in my mind that some of what he said could have been true. In this regard, I think Mike Daisey accomplished what he set out to do. His goal in performing his monologue was to cause people to question what Apple and other American companies manufacturing goods in China are really doing, and whether or not their actions were ethical. Though most of what he said was eventually discovered to be false, some people may not have heard the retraction, and those who did will still be thinking about workers in China making iPhones, and whether or not what they are doing is truly legal. Mike Daisey lost all journalistic credibility when the retraction came out, but I don’t think he really cared about his journalistic integrity or he never would have allowed his work to air in such a public and official capacity. I also don’t agree with his argument that his “play” was completely acceptable for theatrical purposes because he presented it as the truth. Had the retraction never been released, I would have continued believing Apple mistreats Chinese workers, and would have had a negative view. I think he misrepresents what he does in theaters because he doesn’t claim to be making artistic interpretations of a situation, he presents something that never happened as the truth. The two NPR fact checkers say they saw him perform his works and viewed it as an actual representation of what happened on his trip to China, not an exaggeration designed to prove a point. I believe what Mike Daisey did was wrong, but he achieved his goal of bringing attention to Apple and Chinese labor conditions. Continue reading Search for Truth

One Big Mess

The retraction episode of This American Life slightly angered me. I felt uncomfortable as I listened to Ira Glass and Rob Schmitz tear apart Mike Daisey’s story and constantly apologize to their viewers for their failure at fact checking Mike Daisey’s story. In my blog post on This American Life’s “Mr. Daisey and Apple” I wrote that Mike Daisey should have been up front about the parts of his story that were misrepresented. However, I saw the reasons for why he chose to incorporate some details into his story that he had not personally experienced. Mike Daisey is a writer and actor and his purpose is to tell a story and make people care. In this task, he greatly succeeded.

Continue reading One Big Mess

Knights and Knaves

“Retraction” is an attempt by This American Life to restore their credibility. It succeeds in this respect to an extent, but it does not completely negate their failure to do sufficient fact checking for the original story. Unfortunately for Mike Daisey, all of the credibility This American Life and Ira Glass restore for themselves is at his expense. They paint Mike Daisey as a liar by asking leading questions and eventually outright asking if he lied. Continue reading Knights and Knaves

Making People Care

I knew the This American Life retraction would expose some over-exaggerations Mike Daisy had made, but I was not prepared for the extent to which his story was hyperbolized. He conducted far fewer interviews than he claimed, Foxconn was much more approachable and accommodating to visitors, all meetings were set up in advance, underage workers were not commonplace, and n-hexane was not a concern. In addition, Mike did not experience dorm room conditions and likely did not talk to a man with a mangled hand.

I felt much less sympathy, and almost uncaring, towards the Foxconn workers, writing off their true working conditions as not very dire, especially compared to how their conditions were originally portrayed. So, that being said, I agree with Mike Daisy when he argues his story would have had much less impact if it was not told entirely from the first person and embellished the way it was. Continue reading Making People Care

“I’m Going to Lie to Lots of People”

After listening to the original podcast, I didn’t catch on to when Mike Daisey said to Cathy in their conversation, “Yes, Cathy, I”m going to lie to lots of people”. Daisey seemed to indicate that he would be lying to the factory owners about being a businessman. However, I believe that he was foreshadowing more than just lying to factory workers. He intended to lie to millions of people about Apple’s unethical manufacturing process. And this is exactly what he did. He went on This American Life to portray an eye-opening, fabricated recollection about his experiences in the Chinese factories and his interactions with Chinese factory workers. Continue reading “I’m Going to Lie to Lots of People”

A Greater Purpose

In the context of This American Life, Mike Daisy knowingly abused his story reporting it as journalism rather than storytelling. While his lies on the podcast were unethical, as he was told by the show that what he said must be truthful, his larger argument was in support of an ethical cause. Daisy explained and apologized in the retraction that his one regret was bringing his story to This American Life and telling it as journalism. After listening to the retraction, my question was, Continue reading A Greater Purpose

Painting A Picture: Art, Journalism, & Truth

Listening to the retraction from This American Life, I was annoyed as I listened to Mike Daisy squirm under the questions of Rob Schmitz and Ira Glass. It was as if a child was caught stealing from a cookie jar and was trying to justify why he still deserved the cookie, or why his work should still be deemed credible. He was clearly uncomfortable during both interviews and rightfully so in my opinion. Daisy’s believes his lies are the truth and that it’s okay because his show was about making people care. This irritated me. Lies are lies and they should not be displayed to others as the truth. Continue reading Painting A Picture: Art, Journalism, & Truth

So Whose Fault is it?

Following the release of the excerpt of Mike Daisey’s performance on This American Life in 2012, both TAL and Mike Daisey received tremendous backlash from fans around the country. For this blog post, I want voice my opinion on where I think the blame should be placed, and if the reactions by either Daisey or Ira Glass were warranted in the Retraction piece.  Continue reading So Whose Fault is it?