This American Life retracts fabricated FoxConn Criticism
This American Life has chosen to retract a story it made in January this year after it had been revealed to have parts of the story that were fabricated. The problematic story involved Mike Daisey visiting China to see FoxConn’s Apple Factory. The problem is that Mike Daisey is a dramatist.
Mike Daisey performs an excerpt that was adapted for radio from his one-man show “The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs.” A lifelong Apple superfan, Daisey sees some photos online from the inside of a factory that makes iPhones, starts to wonder about the people working there, and flies to China to meet them.
This American Life is considered journalism and upon finding that parts of Mr. Daisey’s story were fabricated, the the syndicated radio show decided to retract the story, an adaptation of Mr. Daisey’s one-man show.
Mr. Daisey posted the following response to the retraction.
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.
This American Life and host Ira Glass issued a press release regarding the retraction, including an admission of error, an apology, and a plan to spend this week’s show detailing the errors in the original story. The Retraction episode can be streamed from thisamericanlife.org or heard on public radio at its normal time.