Blog 3

“Yes Cathy, I’m going to lie to lots of people.”


Last week, when I finished listening to Mike Daisey’s podcast, I looked at my Apple products in disgust; I pictured young children treated like slaves or prisoners polishing the screen on my iPhone. Apparently, Mr. Daisey has a knack for exaggeration, and my iPhone and the company that makes it may not be so tainted after all. Guards carrying guns? Cathy has never even seen a gun before. Factory workers meeting in Starbucks? That just doesn’t happen. This hour long retraction refutes these facts and more in Daisey’s trip to Shenzhen, and forces me to question his authority and legitimacy as a journalist, and on a deeper level, the authority and legitimacy of the media we encounter everyday.

As a New York Times article written by Charles Isherwood about the retraction published around the time of this episode of TAL states: “nonfiction should mean just that: facts and nothing but the facts.” By this credo, since Mr. Daisey had clearly fabricated many of the aspects of his story, it should be considered fiction. What constitutes factual information, and what is myth? How much of what we hear should we believe? Who can we trust? These are all questions that come to mind. One documentary never tells the whole story- it tells the story from one point of view. And yet I found myself intrigued by Daisey’s story—I had no doubt it was true. Part of that was Daisey’s theatrics; he was an incredibly gifted storyteller, appealing to pathos. I shouldn’t have fallen for that trap.

If Daisey can do such a great job of making me believe something that is not true, how much else of what I believe is false? How much of what I see in the news everyday is actually factual? I guess there is really know way of knowing. If one wants to be educated on an issue, they should read countless articles, do their own personal research, and then draw their own conclusions. Reading one article or listening to one podcast does not make someone an expert; it makes them knowledgeable about one viewpoint—probably a skewed one. If nothing else, Daisey’s monologue and the following retraction have taught me to be a bit more cynical: believe only half of what you hear.

NYT Article:

http://theater.nytimes.com/2012/03/19/theater/defending-this-american-life-and-its-mike-daisey-retraction.html?_r=0

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2 thoughts on ““Yes Cathy, I’m going to lie to lots of people.”

  1. I also fell into the emotional trap that Daisy set with his exaggerated story, and I felt personally betrayed when I found out he hadn’t told the complete truth. I think we do need to remember that he was not publishing it as a journalist, although the radio show was when they believed the story to be true. I also agree that he should advertise his story as fiction, because the events in his story did not happen exactly as he described them.
    I love that you raised the questions of “who can we trust,” and “how much of what we hear should we believe?” I think these are important questions when reading accounts of what happens in our everyday lives, especially when it is something that can strongly affect us. Most news stories are skewed, I agree. I think it is helpful to read multiple news stories. I usually pick one from news sources that are known to affiliate with different groups, such as political groups. It is interesting to compare their explanations of events to see where they differ. Often they differ in opinion, but sometimes there are also discrepancies in their “facts.”

  2. Jenna, I agree with your strategy of being educated on current events. Reading articles from mediums associated with liberal and conservative biases is a great way to ensure that we are receiving the whole story and from there we can draw our own personal opinion.

    I still, though, wonder about how much the news tells us is true. Is it possible that both the liberal and conservative news outlets leave out some key information? For example, is the government telling the whole truth in what it is explaining to us about what is going on in Syria? I realize that this is a far digression from the initial topic of Apple and Daisey, but it really has me wondering. Perhaps I am just being too cynical.

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