Reporter's Roundtable: The Mike Daisey retraction

A January episode of Reporters' Roundtable featured now discredited monologuist Mike Daisey and NYT reporter Charles Duhigg together. Both report on the same thing, using very different tools.

The January 27th Reporters' Roundtable episode, Apple's China problem , features Mike Daisey, the writer and performer of The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs. I found about about Daisey when I heard the episode of "This American Life" that featured him, Mr. Daisey and the Apple Factory. As you probably know by now, "This American Life" recently retracted that episode after producers discovered that many of the incidents underpinning Daisey's monologue were embellished or fabricated.

Daisey's monologue contains fiction and should never have been presented as fact. It is not journalism, even though he uses some of the tools of reporting. It is a dramatization of the story. It's based on reality, but there are big elements that are made up or mashed together to, as Daisey says, serve the needs of the theater. Mike Daisey has reacted on his own blog. See "Reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated."

But the short version is this: The show did not meet the This American Life standards of journalism, nor ours at CNET.

Although we can no longer stand behind the entire Reporter's Roundtable episode, we are leaving it on the site. The issue of working conditions at the Foxconn plant is important, and on this particular show I also interviewed Charles Duhigg, a reporter at the New York Times, who did what we believe to be unassailable journalism around the way Apple's manufacturing suppliers operate. See In China, Human Costs Are Built Into an iPad. I also believe this was the first show that featured Duhigg and Daisey together.

 

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