Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?


In an ever-changing world in terms of technology and socialization, we’ve been caught in an era where it seems that if someone is recording something that is not truthful, someone is bound to find out about it. We don’t know what is going on across the world, across the country, or even sometimes the next town over. But if someone, someone who is in a position of power or respect, tells us something, we tend to believe it with no questions asked. So what kind of reasons are there for either bending the truth or outright lying? Even with the media, our connectivity, and everything being recorded, it unfortunately seems to happen quite often – just take a look at some of our political figures and government actions. Although in many cases we seem to trust the word of others without diving deeper and completing research into the truthfulness ourselves, politics and the government are two areas where it may be more common to be skeptical before choosing to believe someone. This type of thinking has now crept into media, and Mike Daisey has portrayed that belief perfectly.

The Retraction episode discussed many of the fabrications that Daisey made up, and it does not look good at all for him. At first, I thought there would be one or two things that would be debatable as to whether or not he had exaggerated, but there was so much more. Some of his shadiness includes: he lied to the radio show as to who the translator was, there were never any guards with guns, factory-workers could not afford Starbucks, like the ones he said he had met with the Union, there were a lot less people outside the factory, and the ages were off from what he claimed, there was no government-issued reports from the Union he talked to, the toxin that hurts people’s hands was not present, there were fabrications regarding his taxi ride and the dorm rooms, and the man who had hurt his hands had never even worked at Foxconn. What gets me the most, though, is how he never really says outright that he lied, and it seems that there are literally no repercussions for his lying except for any bad publicity received from this, which seems minimal.

So with this little story in mind, is the truth important? Is the fact-checking process important? I can tell you that both of those aspects of journalism are very important. I was the Editor-in-Chief of The Bucknellian last semester, and I faced those questions each and every issue of the semester. You don’t really think about it, but the ability to bend the truth, blatantly lie, or disregard the fine line between reality, is always there. In journalism, there must be an extreme amount of research and fact-checking to make sure everything is truthful and everyone is represented. There are often some questionable choices, and when they appear, you sometimes have to do what the radio show said they should’ve done, and that is to cut that aspect of a story out entirely. Daisey discussed the difference between theater and journalism, and how his story fits much better as a story of theater. I do agree with that – it certainly was not up to the standards of journalism – but I also don’t agree with some of the blatant lying and exaggerations he made. In theater, you have the ability to embellish a story through words and poetic writing and storytelling, but you cannot do that by simply stretching truth into fantasy.

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5 thoughts on “Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?

  1. Nice arguments here. One thing i think is difficult is how you balance the fine line of theatre stretching the truth vs. utter fantasy. In the case of Daisey’s story, I would argue that the majority of what he said still remained objectively true and thus could not be accurately characterized as “fantasy.” Another important issue raised here is the degree to which we are so quick to believe the media. If you consider the last blog, I and a few others discovered that this podcast had been retracted with one quick google search. We as readers should be inclined to question what we read and not to believe everything we read as true just as much as journalists should be inclined to tell the truth. Thus, I think it is hypocritical for someone to criticize Daisy’s story who did not do any research on the topic themselves.

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  2. Great points. In the business world we refer to the inherent questioning of information as professional skepticism. It’s important to also think twice about the information that is presented to you especially if it elicits a major emotional response. I admit, I wasn’t aware of the redaction of the narrative but I can see why many people performed the proper due diligence in discovering Daisey’s embedded fabrications.

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  3. Doug, I enjoyed the point you make about the Bucknellian, as a writer I always want my articles to sound interesting, but I cannot fabricate a student quote or what happens at an event. This is because I know that when students read my articles they expect the information to be true. I think the same goes for anyone who appears on This American Life, there are many listening that are expecting some form of the truth to be made by the speaker.

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  4. It is interesting to have your journalism perspective. At some point, you can’t fact check everything, either, right? Like, if the author is mostly and usually right, trust starts to matter. Not saying you stop, just that trust shapes the editorial process. Maybe?

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