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Credibility Lost


In the retraction, Mike Daisey speaks about his desire to evoke an emotional response out of his listeners/viewers. I must say he did a phenomenal job. I felt terrible about my consumer behavior and was ashamed by my lack of awareness surrounding the production of Apple products. Hearing the retraction also prompted upset feelings, but ones backed by anger. I felt deceived by Daisey. When listening to a journalistic public radio show, I not only want the truth, but expect the truth. When listening to a major news program, or a well-known reporter, I place a blind trust in their research. It’s their job and passion to inform us about current events. Should I blame myself for submitting this trust? Or, do I blame the person who abuses that trust?

            While I understand the fact that Daisey wished to bring more attention to the foreign production workers’ conditions, I do not understand why he continued to lie about his monologue. Admitting that his monologue was a theatrical tale of Foxconn’s working conditions would have saved the core purpose of it.  Instead, Daisey not only lied, but continued to publicly discredit himself, ultimately killing the monologue’s effect on its audience. As Ira told Daisey, in this situation, you don’t have to lie to get an emotional response. There are real stories out there that can be investigated and provoke the same emotional response from listeners.

            Hearing the retraction made me reflect upon the trust I place in major news programs, newspapers, talk shows, etc. It startled me to think about how easy it was for me to emotionally respond to a complete lie. In society we place a certain value on known news stations, reporters, and journalists, relying on them to inform us, to tell us the truth. It’s wild to think about the power of the press. While we expect the truth, we often forget that it’s more of a responsibility of the news to honestly inform, and not a guarantee.

            In the end I felt bad for This American Life because they were obviously fighting for their credibility throughout the retraction. The actions of one man and error of one detail led to the potential unraveling of an established listener trust. I admire the purpose of the show, and feel bad that their credibility could have been damaged by Daisey’s monologue.

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2 thoughts on “Credibility Lost

  1. Brigit, I had a very similar reaction to you after listening to the Retraction podcast. It makes me question how trusting I am in news stations, newspapers, and other forms of journalism. It is unfortunate that This American Life may have lost some of their credibility due to Daisey’s fabricated story. Do you think there is anything they should have done to prevent this from happening? Are they to blame for putting Daisey’s story on the air before knowing the truth?

    • Adri,
      Just like they said in the Retraction, I do believe that this could have been avoided if they had put more effort into finding Cathy. Considering the role she played in Daisey’s monologue, she was the main source they needed to fact check with. It is tough for me to say they are at blame for putting the story on air since they were so thoroughly deceived by Daisey, but This American Life failed to follow their own protocol. So yes, ultimately I’d say they are to blame for putting it on air without fact checking with Cathy.

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