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, at this point in time, how does one change consumer behavior that is so strongly rooted in American culture? Can journalism achieve what Daisy’s story achieved in creating an emotional reaction to the working conditions in China?
In the retraction, Daisy said that every part of his story was created in a way to make people care. His story made listeners develop a better understanding of the effects of their consumption habits by opening up our eyes about where the products we use come from and how they are made. Although his story is not completely truthful, he told it in the context of everything he had learned about the labor conditions in all the tech factories, not just Apple’s. In doing so, he conveyed all of the realities of the factories and not just those of which he personally saw. I think Daisy’s approach was unfair in that it put the burden of responding to the public’s reactions on Apple; however, I understand why Daisy targeted Apple and not another tech company or all tech companies. The majority of people in the U.S., and other countries throughout the world, use Apple products and have become devoted and loyal to the company. Therefore, by targeting a company that the majority of us support, Daisy’s story becomes relative to most of our lives, which increases the number of people that will be affected by his story.
Mike Daisy could have gone about this telling his story in much better ways, especially in relation to This American Life. However, it is hard for me to condemn a man who took what he experienced, and what he learned outside of those experiences, and tried to instigate change in the consumption behavior of our society by telling a story. Mike Daisy’s intentions were to serve this greater purpose.