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This American Life Retracts Episode On Apple Factories In China 326

Posted by Soulskill
from the this-means-we-can-ignore-it-now-right dept.
New submitter Hartree writes "This American Life aired an episode in January about visiting Foxconn's factory in Shenzhen China that supplies Apple with iPhones and iPads. It was the most downloaded of all of its episodes. That show helped prompt Apple to release, for the first time, a list of its suppliers and allow outside audits of working conditions at its suppliers. This American Life has now retracted the episode after finding out that Mike Daisey, whose visit to the factory the show was based on, fabricated portions of the story. This included a number of minor items, but also major ones such as his saying that he personally met underage workers and those poisoned by hexane exposure. To set the record straight, this weekend's episode of This American Life will present how they were mislead into airing a flawed story (PDF)."
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This American Life Retracts Episode On Apple Factories In China

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  • Refreshing (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Translation Error (1176675) on Friday March 16, 2012 @03:57PM (#39381973)

    To set the record straight, this weekend's episode of This American Life will present how they were mislead into airing a flawed story

    It really is nice to see that someone has journalistic integrity in this day and age. Rather than ignoring their mistake or trying to hush it up, they're saying they messed up, this is what they did wrong, and this is how it happened.

  • Theater (Score:4, Insightful)

    by rabenja (919226) on Friday March 16, 2012 @03:58PM (#39381991) Journal

    "My mistake, the mistake I truly regret, is that I had it on your show as journalism, and it's not journalism. It's theater."

    ...as opposed to what we see in the media every day...(?)

  • Re:Refreshing (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Sir_Eptishous (873977) on Friday March 16, 2012 @04:01PM (#39382019) Homepage
    Exactly. To think, that a media outlet would have the balls to admit they were wrong, then explain how they made the mistake. That is rare these days...
  • by dynamo52 (890601) on Friday March 16, 2012 @04:05PM (#39382099)
    To be fair, at least the show's producers acknowledge the mistake, are willing to present a full retraction, and are doing so in the same forum and with equal prominence as the original story. If the same had happened on Fox News, the likely reaction would have been a coordinated attack on whoever brought the truth to light.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 16, 2012 @04:08PM (#39382125)

    LOL. NPR gets caught publishing a massive lie by an anti-corporation hipster, and you respond by attacking Fox News?

  • by minderaser (28934) <{ed.llehseerf} {ta} {resarednim}> on Friday March 16, 2012 @04:09PM (#39382131)
    Ira Glass is a man of honour. Would we EVER see another news agency do this?
  • Re:Not to worry (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 16, 2012 @04:09PM (#39382137)

    Slashdot has been lacking in fact checking

    What are you talking about? Slashdot is one huge hive of fact checkers - we get Karma if we can debunk the original post ffs!

  • by Kamiza Ikioi (893310) on Friday March 16, 2012 @04:13PM (#39382197) Homepage

    You know, Foxconn does some shitty things with their employees. But it's stuff like this that takes all the legitimate complaints and paints it over with, "See, it's all a lie." I hope Mike Daisey gets a horrible rash on his balls for this snow job.

  • by amiga3D (567632) on Friday March 16, 2012 @04:15PM (#39382221)

    Yes. He did exactly what he said that FOX News would have done. Ironic, not to mention hypocritical.

  • by dynamo52 (890601) on Friday March 16, 2012 @04:22PM (#39382323)
    It's a fair criticism. NPR, when faced with evidence that they presented misleading information immediately took appropriate steps to remedy the mistake. Fox News on the other hand has been repeatedly caught with their hands in the cookie jar and the response is always the same: first try to brush it under the rug and hope nobody notices and should that fail, make every attempt possible to discredit the whistleblower.
  • by Anubis IV (1279820) on Friday March 16, 2012 @04:23PM (#39382341)

    More like he admitted he took quite a bit of license in his retelling of events. I may be an Apple lover, but I'm a nerd first, and facts matter in the world of nerds, regardless of who they favor.

    The monologue he engages in contains the following:

    ...and all these people have been exposed [to N-hexane]...Their hands shake uncontrollably. Most of them...can't even pick up a glass.

    But then to quote from another interview with him in the last few days [marketplace.org] after he was confronted with his interpreter's contrary testimony:

    Rob Schmitz: Cathy says you did not talk to workers who were poisoned with hexane.

    Mike Daisey: That’s correct.

    RS: So you lied about that? That wasn’t what you saw?

    MD: I wouldn’t express it that way.

    RS: How would you express it?

    MD: I would say that I wanted to tell a story that captured the totality of my trip.

    Ira Glass: Did you meet workers like that? Or did you just read about the issue?

    MD: I met workers in, um, Hong Kong, going to Apple protests who had not been poisoned by hexane but had known people who had been, and it was a constant conversation among those workers.

    IG: So you didn’t meet an actual worker who’d been poisoned by hexane.

    MD: That’s correct.

    Getting the facts out should be in every nerd's interest, regardless of who they favor. This guy is clearly a liar and is being slimy in all of his responses. He could've lied about any major manufacturer. I'm glad he's being discredited. Even he admits it wasn't the truth now:

    My mistake, the mistake I truly regret, is that I had [my monologue] on your show as journalism. And it’s not journalism. It’s theater.

  • by evilRhino (638506) on Friday March 16, 2012 @04:28PM (#39382425)
    It's also not fair to compare Fox News to this type of situation. Fox News was created to present the conservative angle of the news without the need for fact checking. For them to acknowledge mistakes is antithetical to their core mission to "present the other side".
  • by mooingyak (720677) on Friday March 16, 2012 @04:29PM (#39382433)

    Yes. He did exactly what he said that FOX News would have done. Ironic, not to mention hypocritical.

    How exactly did he do that?

    Did dynamo52 make some other, invalid comment, only to be exposed by FOX News, so now he's attacking them?

    He contrasted what happened here with what he expected to happen had it been FOX News instead. He might be wrong (or not. I make no claim to know), but he's not hypocritical.

  • Re:Theater (Score:4, Insightful)

    by shmlco (594907) on Friday March 16, 2012 @04:42PM (#39382599) Homepage

    It's the Rush Limbaugh defense. "I just make absurd comments in order to illustrate my points."

  • by dynamo52 (890601) on Friday March 16, 2012 @04:43PM (#39382605)
    They could have absolved themselves of liability by simply issuing a correction in a much more low profile fashion. By doing so in the manner they are, they are making a point of journalistic integrity.
  • by rickb928 (945187) on Friday March 16, 2012 @04:50PM (#39382703) Homepage Journal

    Bogus.

    Their fact checkers had concerns, but these were apparently ignored. You may say they chose to go with less-than--perfect fact checking, but that leaves you admitting they chose to ignore potential problems.

    NPR could have easily found Rob Schmitz, vetted the story, seen the errors, and sent it back to be corrected.

    Actually, they did,and chose to ignore those questions as well. Schmitz knew that at least some of the story was simply false, and TAL chose to ignore that also.

    Daisey's defense?

    "My mistake, the mistake I truly regret, is that I had it on your show as journalism, and it's not journalism. It's theater."

    Actually, since he purports this to be factual, it's immaterial whether it is theatre or journalism. Lies are lies. And he lied. Since 2010. On stage. For money.

    I do not see a shred of responsibility on the part of TAL. They were caught with a falsified show segment, based on lies and inadequately vetted, easily discredited, and could ONLY have retracted it and blamed eveyrone else, or forfeited their reputation in presenting anything as either fact-based or journalistic.

    I like TAL, and Ira Glass I like also, and listen regularly. But I never thought of them as journalists, and thought their fact-based segments were generally slanted and sensationalized. Now that I know how badly they do with facts, I'll stick to the fluff pieces, which are often very good.

    But I'll mistrust their facts forever now. Just the way it is.

    And I won't think of TAL as noble or responsible either. I feel badly for Ira. He deserves better from his underlings, unless he was a willing participant.

  • Re:Not NPR (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MrEricSir (398214) on Friday March 16, 2012 @05:07PM (#39382987) Homepage

    That doesn't mean the show is funded by NPR any more than if a McDonald's employee sells me a necklace it would mean McDonald's is in the jewlery business.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 16, 2012 @05:26PM (#39383261)

    Yes. He did exactly what he said that FOX News would have done. Ironic, not to mention hypocritical.

    How exactly did he do that?

    Did dynamo52 make some other, invalid comment, only to be exposed by FOX News, so now he's attacking them?

    He contrasted what happened here with what he expected to happen had it been FOX News instead. He might be wrong (or not. I make no claim to know), but he's not hypocritical.

    How this chain of comments has been moderated says more about Slashdot than the comments themselves. Both mooingyak and the moderators have a very poor grasp on the concepts of irony and hypocrisy. The failure to see the irony is the hypocrisy in which the irony is itself nested.

  • by cduffy (652) <charles+slashdot@dyfis.net> on Friday March 16, 2012 @05:43PM (#39383509)

    didn't fact check the story in the first place

    Explicitly untrue. They did make an effort at fact-checking, and noted the one exageration they successfully detected, but they let it slide when Daisey wouldn't give them accurate contact information for his interpreter, rather than killing the story.

    It was a judgement call, and they were wrong, but at least they're doing the right thing in followup.

  • by LDAPMAN (930041) on Friday March 16, 2012 @06:31PM (#39384049)

    "A single letter falsified"...don't you think thats minimizing a bit? That single letter was the basis of the story and a sole documentation upon which a political hatchet job was based.

  • by CharlyFoxtrot (1607527) on Friday March 16, 2012 @07:14PM (#39384555)

    Occam's razor: Apple managed to bully a lot of Chinese nationals into towing their corporate line, force NPR to retract its story and get Daisy to say it was all just theater OR Daisy's just another self-aggrandizing little shit who's trying to surf the Apple wave to success ? Second one seems simpler to me.

  • by mattack2 (1165421) on Friday March 16, 2012 @08:37PM (#39385383)

    Real news comes from the internet.

    That's ironic, since most of the "news" on the Internet is just rehashes of news stories done by real journalists.

  • by witherstaff (713820) on Friday March 16, 2012 @09:02PM (#39385607) Homepage
    It's a Fox network owned station not just a local station with an affiliate feed to fox, therefore it's FOX. But I'm not spreading lies, any news station can legally lie since there is no law against news stations not telling the truth. Ya know like the title says "Fox news can legally lie, so can any news". By the same token NBC, MSNBC CNN, CBS, PBS, can legally lie. I I haven't seen any other lawsuits against other news stations so while the others can, so far just fox has been caught so blatantly.
  • by lightknight (213164) on Friday March 16, 2012 @09:37PM (#39385847) Homepage

    Agreed. The moderation of these comments, as of 9:33 PM EST, is fairly sad.

    Instead of holding the media to a higher standard, posters have digressed into "it's not as bad as Fox News"-style argument.

    But I digress, this is the media we are talking about, which has often been summarized in one quote: "They call it a medium because it’s neither rare nor well done."

    *puts on hard hat* Okay, I am ready for the inevitable down-moderation.

  • by wrook (134116) on Friday March 16, 2012 @09:41PM (#39385865) Homepage

    I often get confused when people talk about "liberal" this and "conservative" that. From my non-American perspective, I see so little difference between the two that I can't bring myself to acknowledge that there is a substantive difference.

    What the two "sides" tend to do is report an issue and exaggerate a piece of minutia, a nuance, or some abstract principle. They then blow that one thing up out of all proportion and highlight specifically how it is different from "other side". Finally, they leave the viewer with the impression that if everyone doesn't agree on this tiny bit of minutia, the whole world will go to hell in a hand basket. You *must* oppose the other side with all your heart.

    They intentionally create a distinction in order to separate the two sides and give an illusion of choice.

    But I would caution that the internet is far from free of that meme. If anything it can be worse if all you read is opinion. The one advantage is that it can sometimes be easier to trace down facts in order to create your own opinions. But verifying the facts is not trivial.

"In matters of principle, stand like a rock; in matters of taste, swim with the current." -- Thomas Jefferson

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