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?