After listening to the Retraction podcast including some post-conversations with Mike Daisey, I still had conflicted opinions. Especially after the last five minutes of the podcast where the question is asked, should we still feel bad about this and the working conditions under which our Apple products are made? The argument we here from a reporter is simply facts rather than a specific direction of emotion to choose. The ambiguity at the end during this conversation reflected how I felt the entire podcast as I learned that some of what Mike Daisey had reported was simply not true.
Although false reporting is very unethical and unacceptable in a journalistic environment, I like to play devil’s advocate. Would this monologue have gotten as much attention if he only stated true facts and did not exaggerate? Maybe. Maybe not, though. The exaggeration of terrible working conditions in the monologue may be the reason there were so many viewers; it truly made an impact on those who heard the podcast, radio or saw the monologue (Daisey’s goal) so they recommended it to their friends. If it weren’t for the dramatic representation would people be as interested at the moment of the delivery of the message, and therefore participate in the rapid sharing of what they had heard and been so moved by afterwards? Would you and I be sitting here today and have any educated sense of what the working conditions are like in China at such a detailed perspective that we seem to have now.
Again, as wrong as it was for Mike Daisey to share his monologue on the radio as a journalist would due to his theatrical representation of what is going on, I think many people learned from this huge mistake. Daisey learned how different journalism and theatre are, and how careful and honest he must be about their differences. The American Life learned how serious and in-depth they needed to be with their background fact check as a station who represents true stories. Lastly, the population of listeners gained a sense of how terrible the working conditions truly are in China that they may have never heard about before. Sure, maybe a few numbers are off here and there, or a story from another city in China mixed in, but I can honestly say that as a listener, I learned so much about working conditions in China that I otherwise would have never come across. As an listener, it can also be their responsibility to further research and engage in what they hear in order to shape their own opinion about the topic being discussed.