Monthly Archives: March 2012
Mike Daisey wasn’t the first person to make up a false personal story as a way of raising the kind of “awareness” that will necessitate change, nor was #StopKony the first hyper-successful campaign to take a massively complicated political-economic-military problem and reduce it to the narrative of a great white savior. See, for example, Greg Mortensen, who is similar to both, in the way that both are similar to each, or to a Tom MacMaster, the hoaxter behind“Gay Girl in Damascus.”….
This is not a defense, of course, but it is worth saying: if we only emphasize the lies in these accounts, we thereby overlook the extent to which they were saying true things. And it is also worth remembering that truth is not an either/or. One can easily deceive by telling nothing but the truth – telling it selectively, misframed, etc – and one can also tell a kind of truth by using statements which are, on their own, untrue. This is why fiction matters, and why journalism never rests on quite the firm bedrock of objectivity that it needs to pretend it does. But again, this is not a defense, just an attempt to describe a problem that we often have vested interests in failing to acknowledge, the blurriness of the line that separates fact from fiction.
I say this to clear away the temptation of easy moralism, of making “true” seem like it would be the easy way to be right. For if truth and fiction are not black and white – and they are not – then it is simply not enough to condemn Mike Daisey for lying. Moralizing about that, after all, allows us to imagine a simplistic world in which telling the truth would have been the right choice. If you tell the truth the rightway, we imagine – if you tell the version of Mike Daisey’s story that didn’t narcissistically mythologize – then the real problems that really do exist could be dealt with. But this isn’t the case, is it? If you tell the truth with scrupulous accuracy and breadth, people are as likely to doze off as be scandalized.
“Is it O.K. to lie on the way to telling a greater truth?” asks Carr. Nope, he says.
An NYU grad wrote a song to explain SuperPACs for ProPublica. Poynter explains it all here:
Super PACS have become an important — but at times confusing — part of this year’s election. Hoping to explain them, ProPublica published a song that describes what Super PACs are, how they affect candidates and why they’re controversial.
“I remember back in January reading about how at the debates, even the moderators — based on the questions they were asking — didn’t seem to fully grasp what a Super PAC was,” said David Holmes, a freelancer who wrote the music and the lyrics for the video with Andrew Bean. “It seemed like one of those issues that everyone was talking about, but there was still a lot of confusion about how they work.”….
Holmes, who was a journalism student in New York University’s Studio 20 Program and graduated last December, has created two other explainers for ProPublica — one about redistricting and another about hydraulic fractured drilling.
“‘This American Life’ will devote its entire program this weekend to detailing the errors in the story, which was an excerpt of Mike Daisey’s critically acclaimed one-man show, ‘The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs.’” — From a “This American Life” press release
Click here for the broadcast (58 mins.)
From public radio’s “This American Life”:
Regrettably, we have discovered that one of our most popular episodes was partially fabricated. This week, we devote the entire hour to detailing the errors in “Mr. Daisey Goes to the Apple Factory,” Mike Daisey’s story about visiting Foxconn, an Apple supplier factory in China. Rob Schmitz, a reporter for Marketplace, raises doubts on much of Daisey’s story.
Here’s what Mike Daisey writes on his blog:
I stand by my work. My show is a theatrical piece whose goal is to create a human connection between our gorgeous devices and the brutal circumstances from which they emerge. It uses a combination of fact, memoir, and dramatic license to tell its story, and I believe it does so with integrity. Certainly, the comprehensive investigations undertaken by The New York Times and a number of labor rights groups to document conditions in electronics manufacturing would seem to bear this out.
What I do is not journalism. The tools of the theater are not the same as the tools of journalism. For this reason, I regret that I allowed THIS AMERICAN LIFE to air an excerpt from my monologue. THIS AMERICAN LIFE is essentially a journalistic – not a theatrical - enterprise, and as such it operates under a different set of rules and expectations. But this is my only regret. I am proud that my work seems to have sparked a growing storm of attention and concern over the often appalling conditions under which many of the high-tech products we love so much are assembled in China.