Blog 3

The Effect of Lies


Mike Daisy’s story being broadcast on This American Life created quite the controversy. I think what Daisy did, lying about his story being completely true so that it would be broadcast as journalism, was unethical and irresponsible. He even admitted to being afraid that someone would discover that he did not tell his story exactly how it happened. What was most disturbing to me was his unwillingness to apologize, saying that the only thing he regrets is “having my story on your show as journalism; it is not journalism, its theatre.” I think that it would have been much more truthful if he had advertised his story as a work of fiction, based on true facts and stories. I think that it still would have reached people’s emotions and made them think about the consequences of the technology we use every day. Now that parts of his story have been discredited and Ira from This American Life calls him out as a liar, I think that people will remove themselves from the emotional attachment of the story.

When I listened to Daisy’s broadcast, I fell into his emotional trap and asked the question, “why isn’t Apple doing anything to change these working conditions in their factories?” Charles Duhigg mentioned Apple’s Supplier Code of Conduct. Apple is very transparent on their web page, describing some statistics on how many of their factories have passed inspection and what they are doing to make sure that factories are making necessary changes to improve their working conditions (http://www.apple.com/supplierresponsibility/reports.html). They admit that their factories are not perfect, but they have plans laid out to make sure that the ones that are below standards will improve. It cannot happen overnight, but it is evident that progress is being made.

I think it is a lot easier to believe the information available on Apple’s webpage than Mike Daisy’s story, especially knowing that much of what he said was false. Corporate Reports, such as Apple’s Supplier Responsibility Progress Report (http://images.apple.com/supplierresponsibility/pdf/Apple_SR_2013_Progress_Report.pdf) are taken very seriously, and it would be incredibly risky for Apple to make false claims in a report like this. Apple is a company with a lot of money and power, and it would take a lot more than one story like Mike Daisy’s to prove that Apple is not doing what they say they are doing. After looking at Apple’s reports that show that they are making changes to improve their factories, and questioning the reliability of all of Daisy’s facts, the guilt I feel in using products like the iPhone and iPad has decreased. Duhigg also made the point that expectations of working conditions in China are not the same as the expectations in the United States, and they should not be held to the same standards. Many of the factory workers need money, so they work extra hours. The cultural differences are enormous, and I think when we look at situations such as Foxconn, we forget them.

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2 thoughts on “The Effect of Lies

  1. I completely agree with you, Jenna. It is hard to sort out what information is true and what is false. A company like Apple would not provide false information to their stakeholders about the working conditions of their suppliers overseas. Reports like the Supplier Responsibility Progress Report are necessary documents to keep Apple in check with their stakeholders and themselves. I know that you mention the large cultural differences between working in a plant in the United States and and working at one overseas, but do you think companies like Apple should try to bring working conditions that exist here abroad?

  2. Jenna, I think you describe Mike Daisey’s monologue perfectly when you say “theatre.” Listening to his interview with This American Life made me feel as though he exaggerated his experience in Shenzhen a little too much. He was trying to be too dramatic. I completely agree that cultural differences should be taken into consideration when comparing factory conditions in Shenzhen versus those in the United States; however, are factory workers over there still receiving the treatment they should expect to receive? It would be interesting to know how they truly feel, but I guess that would be difficult for us to understand since we come from a different cultural background.

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