This week’s blog council consisted of Jordi Comas, Luke Vreeland, and Will Owens. We really enjoyed going through everyone’s posts and comments and we hope you like our theme change. Before announcing what we thought were some of the best posts, we thought it could be helpful to give some general feedback:
- Should be informative but still hook the reader
- Tying the title back into the end of the blog can be a very effective literary technique
- Should be informative but still hook the reader
- Good job getting to the point
- Comments can be broken up into smaller comments if they are distinct points
- Proofread your posts before submitting!
- Example: This American Life should be in italics
Everyone did a great job, but here are a few posts that we thought stood out:
- Max- One Big Mess
- Aylin- This is NOT Based on a True Story
- Chris- Daisey: “I’m Going to Lie to Lots of People”
- Shaun- So Whose Fault is it?
- Mary- Honesty: The Difference Between Journalism and Art
- Pat- Knights and Knaves
Featured Picture: Mike Daisey
This week, I listened to the Retraction episode of This American Life. I found the characters involved in the podcast to be more interesting than the topic they were discussing, and my blog post will focus on this aspect of the podcast.
Mike and Ira are two very interesting characters, and they are now forever connected. This post will analyze my emotional reaction to Mike’s apology, as well as my thoughts on Ira’s response to Mike’s apology.
Mike has a unique, deliberate speaking style full of uncomfortable, thought provoking pauses that truly give you the sense that he choses every word he says carefully. This same style that makes him such an interesting, attention capturing, thought provoking monologuist makes him very unlikable when he comes back on the show during the retraction episode. To say that it is his speaking style that made him unlikable in his return to the show sells himself short: it is his refusal to admit that he duped Ira, and duped the public that makes him the most unlikable. His speaking style simply exacerbates the frustration a listener feels listening to Mike defend his journey to China. I am honestly surprised he would return to the show if his message was going to summarize to the following in my opinion: he admits that he deceived listeners to make them care, but quickly, proudly, and loudly points to the fact listeners now care! They care! and that matters more to him than the fact that he deceived them, which I did not like.
A quick point on Ira’s reaction to Mike’s retraction. He did not take very kindly to Mike’s retraction, and I don’t blame him because I didn’t either. However, isn’t this the best thing that ever happened to Ira’s show? Mike’s original podcast was the most downloaded podcast ever of This American Life. And I firmly believe that the followup podcast amounts to “there’s no such thing as bad news” as a boon to Ira’s show. I wonder if his on air anger at Mike is supplemented by an off-air appreciation– one that he would never admit to Mike– that Daisey’s monologue on his show and the circus that followed was the best thing that could have happened to Ira: it did not damage his journalistic integrity, and created a huge boon of interest in him and his show.
Mike Daisey is an American author and actor, most famous for his monologue “The Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs”. This American Life host Ira Glass has now produced two episodes on the subject, the first containing Daisey’s monologue, and the second retroactively exposing the inaccuracies of the first. Glass apologized for endorsing and reporting Daisey’s embellished story, explaining that journalists have an obligation to report facts- something Daisey’s story was apparently lacking. Daisey agreed that misleading the public is wrong, but argued that his monologue was art, not journalism. His goal was to make people passionate about the very real labor problems going on in China, and he thought that would be better accomplished by reporting what had been happening, even if he hadn’t seen it himself.
I don’t have an issue with Mike Daisey’s “The Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs” monologue. Although the story is routinely embellished, if not completely made up, it accomplished its goal- to get the public thinking. As social commentary, the monologue is great. My problem with it arises from Daisey marketing his piece as journalism, a view that Glass shares. Art and journalism are two completely different beasts and should be acknowledged as such. A journalist should report the facts. Ideally, they would be free from biases and focus on informing the public as accurately as possible. Art, on the other hand, is much more open to interpretation. There is no “wrong” art in the same way that a journalist could be wrong. Art is used to express feelings and emotion, something Daisey did quite well. However, when he went on This American Life and discussed his “experiences” as “fact”, Daisey attempted to blur the line between art and journalism- without the public’s knowledge.
While I disagree with Daisey’s conduct ethically, and logically comply with the idea that journalism and art are different, I cannot refute that there is art in journalism. In describing the epitome of a journalist earlier, I used the key word “ideally”. In reality, and in concurrence with the technological boom of the past two decades, journalism has devolved into a competition to see who can create the most eye-catching headlines or tell the people what they want to hear. Generally speaking, I think mass media still has the ability to be a trusted news source, but it is not currently the case because of the merger between art and journalism. Daisey gives a perfect example of this mentality. There is truth in what he had to say, but he felt the need to dramatize it to increase public reception. In doing this, Daisey created a moving piece of art, but not a piece of journalism.
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
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?
“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
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
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
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