Last month, public radio's 'This American Life' retracted its most popular show ever after it was discovered that Mike Daisey's monologue regarding working conditions in Apple's Foxconn factory in China had been partially fabricated.
Marketplace correspondent Rob Schmitz uncovered the fabrications after one phone call, prompting many people to ask about This American Life's fact-checking process, as well as what counts as journalism.
"I heard Daisey's segment on This American Life, and I immediately thought some of the details didn't seem right," Schmitz said on Marketplace. "So I decided to just Google the name of Daisey's translator who appears in the monologue, her name is Cathy, and then I added 'translator and Shenzhen' to her name, and there she was. I found her. The next day, I was at the gates of Foxconn in Shenzhen with a copy of Daisey's monologue, Cathy was with me, and after going point by point through his monologue, I discovered many of the details, according to Cathy, never happened."
After the retraction, a number of stories regarding what's really happening at Apple's China factories have come out. Schmitz will join The Daily Circuit Thursday to discuss what we really know about Foxconn working conditions and what the story means for journalism.
"I think that's an important thing we shouldn't lose sight of--that many of the things Daisey lied about seeing have actually happened in China," Schmitz said on Marketplace. "There have been poisoned workers, and Apple's own audits have caught underage workers at factories making Apple products, but here's another fact that also might be missing from this whole conversation: From what we know these are rare occurrences in Apple's supply chain. Life at factories that make Apple products is not all hunky-dory, but the truth is much more complicated than how Daisey portrayed the situation."
Journalist Mark Oppenheimer will also join the discussion. He wrote about the controversy for Salon and said he still likes Daisey and his work.
"There's a way to train audiences to love the mostly-true, the improved-but-still-basically-factual," Oppenheimer wrote. "We need to learn how to love this hybrid, because as Mike Daisey shows, it's the next great art form. But we need to be honest about what it is. Our love must be true, not purchased with lies."