Can the Truth be Subjective?


After listening to the This American Life podcast on the retraction of Mike Daisey’s interview I thought about the differences between theatre and journalism. Daisey calls his version of his travels to China theatre and not journalism. When Daisey is caught fabricating the harsh working conditions of employees working at Foxconn, the plant that produces the products for Apple, he twists his broadcast to something that is of art/theatre. Throughout the podcast Ira Glass sounds very disappointed in Daisey and is disappointed in himself and those who work at This American Life for not doing a better job at fact checking Daisey’s story.

Since all the prompted press from Daisey this has actually made Apple attempt to improve the standards for people working at Foxconn, this is where Daisey does deserve some credit.

Calling a broadcast about a major company and real people whose lives are being represented should not be referred to as theatre because the moral point should be to represent the reality of the situation. The difference between art and journalism is that art can be subjective; it can have a bias point of view that depicts someone’s outlook on the world. Journalism and especially News journalisms priority is to be factual, it is often hard not to be bias in writing but in terms of events journalism sticks to being objective and telling the story as is.

I myself write for the News section of the Bucknellian every week and I always want my pieces to sound interesting but at the same time I have to write what actually occurred at an event. I cannot fabricate a student quote or make something up because then I would be giving false information to anyone who reads my article. I think the same applies to anyone who appears on This American Life, they know it’s a major radio publication and many people listening will believe in the speaker. In the podcast it sounds like Daisey fabricated his stories about workers he met that have been poisoned, because he wanted to reach the heartstrings and play on the emotions of people listening, he wanted to make his trip to China as juicy as he could. At the cost of making the broadcast a subjective viewpoint and the overwhelming amount of press he got, it makes me wonder if it was worth it after he was caught. This prompts me to ask the question of would Mike Daisey have received the same amount of attention without fabricating the story?

 

 

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4 thoughts on “Can the Truth be Subjective?

  1. Something thats interesting about all this, is that in the end despite using some shady tactics to get there, Daisey actually succeeded in generating some buzz about apple. Does the end justify the means? Maybe he chose the better of 2 evils in order to try to help eradicate some of the problems these factory workers face. Sometimes some rules need to be broken to achieve greatness. I’m not saying I agree with Daisey at all, I’m just playing devils advocate here. Maybe all of this will create a result that was worth the lies it took to get it.

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  2. I agree because it was Mike Daisy’s end goal to generate negative media for Apple, and he succeeded in doing so. In my opinion it is the same as at the very beginning of a scary movie when the screen says “based on a true story”. This is based on a true story. there are more parts added for entertainment and to make it exciting. Otherwise nobody would pay attention to this story. I don’t think that this gives Mr. Daisy to lie the way he did, but it is just a thought.

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  3. Spencer, I like the point you make about how despite the controversy Daisey did succeed in getting Apple the attention it deserved for the way they were making their products. After listening to the podcast I think we understand that he elaborated his story so people would listen to what he had to say and take it seriously. Although I still wonder if Daisey had kept to the original story would his story had gotten as much press as his alternate version did? Either way it did put Apple on the map for mistreating workers.

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