Although Daisey wasn’t initially a journalist, he became one once he decide to investigate what happens at Foxconn. He went to a foreign country, interviewed people, and then reported back a story to the public. That is journalism. And Investigative journalism is a daunting task. For one, the journalist must dig really far, including traveling into foreign countries, to find the truth. He or she must then take the ‘factual’ information they found and transform it into something that people will find interesting and want to listen to. These are the sort of pressure Mike Daisey was facing when he decided to twist the truth in This American Life podcast.
Even though This American Life retracted the story about Apple, doesn’t mean that there weren’t facts that went into the story. As is with every sort of published piece of writing, film, or theatre, there is always going to be some subjectivity to it. There is anything that is truly objective. So for anyone to believe that initially about the podcast really needs to reconsider how much they trust everything and see in the media, in magazines, and books. So similar to everything else, Mike Daisey colored this story with his own subjectivity. He really wanted the viewers to grasp what was happening in China and make an impression on them. And as I wrote about in my last blog post, he really was the first person to make an impression on me about Apple and human rights issues. And that was his end goal.
Despite believing that it is okay he twisted reality quite a bit, I do think that this retraction immediately takes his creditability away from his viewers. The average person is going to dismiss everything that was said in that podcast, despite some of it being true. So in the end, he probably made the problem worse by fabricating parts of the story. Did you dismiss everything you heard in the podcast once you heard the retraction? Do you still think that major human rights abuses occur in Foxconn’s facilities?