What’s in the “Truth”


friedrich-nietzsche-philosopher-quote-convictions-are-more-dangerousThe central issue raised is this podcast is: did Daisey lie? And if he did lie, how does this affect the legitimacy of his story? When confronted, Daisey doesn’t seem all that remorseful about embellishing some of the details of his “play,” regretting only the fact that he agreed to air his story of TAL. He maintains that his story of Apple and Foxconn was theatre, not journalism and seems to use this as a means to rationalize his deliberate stretching of the truth. An interesting quote I found from googling truth in journalism reads, “On this there is absolute unanimity and also utter confusion: Everyone agrees journalists must tell the truth. Yet people are fuddled about what “the truth” means….” I think this really gets to the core of this problem and raises some of the fundamental philosophical concerns of what “truth” actually encompasses and constitutes.

One point of contention in the philosophy of truth is whether it is subjective or objective. From an objective standpoint, it can be argued that Daisey did tell the truth about most of the things that were happening in China. However, he lied about his subjective experiences, those things that he physically encountered during his visit to the Foxconn plant in Shenzhen. An example of this is the n-hexane story; this was a true story that happened at a plant in China, but Daisey did not actually interact with this person during his visit. So, does this damage the legitimacy of what Daisey is trying to reveal about Apple? From an objective view, because most of what Daisey said did legitimately occur—whether or not Daisy saw these things firsthand—this story is still effective in what it was intended to do.

Furthermore, the story of this podcast and its subsequent removal from TAL speaks to the issue of journalism vs. the arts. I tend to associate journalism as a field more associated with and committed to the truth. The arts, in contrast, are often fiction and fantasy, meant to evoke strong emotions from the viewer. With this in mind, I think there is some legitimacy to Daisey’s claim that his story was a form of art, of theatre. Many of the blog posts from last week are evidence to the sorts of strong emotions that Daisey’s story creates in the audience. There is no doubting that Daisey’s story is effective in making us reconsider everything we know about Apple. Sure, Daisey may not have acted in the most wholly ethical or moral manner, but are these ideals really as important in the arts as they are in journalism?

Certainly, I am in no way condoning Daisey’s actions and dishonesty with regards to certain facts in the story, but I believe he deserves some credit it his commitment to getting his message heard and advancing his cause. Was TAL more concerned with providing the truth or protecting their own public image? I think a strong case can be made on both sides of this debate. A closing point: what’s more important here, the big picture of what’s actually going on at Foxconn or the minute details of what some guy named Mike Daisey experienced during his trip to China?

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4 thoughts on “What’s in the “Truth”

  1. The idea of objectivity and subjectivity in journalism in theater is really interesting. In a piece of strict journalism, everything must be objective. If it’s considered news, there can be no subjectivity, which Daisey does in fact include. Now, if it is a piece of theater, then sure, Daisey can add in some subjectivity to embellish it and make the story more interesting. However, that’s does not give him the right to lie or stretch the truth, and unfortunately for him, he was caught. The fact that he took so long to answer some of the questions posed to him, just so he could find something to say about his lies, irked me. Overall, his story shouldn’t have been on there as journalism, but the way he presented it by distorting the truth was not good either.

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  2. The contrast between objectivity and subjectivity in regards to Mike Daisey’s piece definitely leaves the truth of his work open to interpretation. It is inarguable that Daisey distorted his subjective truth. He lied about his personal experiences with Foxconn; the people he met, the things he saw. However, objectively he reveals a much greater truth- that Apple, other large corporations, and the world must change the way they view ethics in relation to profitability. Yes, I agree that he shouldn’t have stretched the truth and he certainly should not have portrayed his work as journalism, however he undoubtedly left a positive mark on society’s view of capitalism as a whole.

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  3. Brady, I think you make an interesting point about how journalism should be committed to the truth while theatre can be fantasy. Since Daisey is speaking on behalf of a real company that is a major influence in many peoples lives, and real people that work for Apple it should come as ethical to him to want to submit writing that is a piece of journalism rather than just a good story. On the other hand I think you are right in saying that Daisey did not have the goal in mind to report news to people he wanted an outrage to occur, over something that he provided, news wasnt really his goal.

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  4. Never seen someone use “fuddled” in a sentence. Cool.

    How are convictions and lies relevant to your thoughts? The quotation is arresting, but I wanted to know more.

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