Once again, a proverbial worm has nestled itself into the fruit of journalism.
What we as journalists do is tell the truth. Many of us have side projects: poetry, literary novels, short stories. These creative endeavors do not, and must not, seep into our jobs of truth telling.
Yes, journalism involves interpretation. What it does not involve is theatrics.
Mike Daisey reported on a string of abuses in Apple’s manufacturing chain in China. The resulting “story” amassed a wide following as a special segment on This American Life, and Daisey has continued to lob barbs at the tech company.
That story for TAL has been retracted today. Daisey fabricated parts of his story and subsequently lied to fact checkers at the radio program. Ira Glass, host of TAL, said in a press release that the story should have been killed, but there were no obvious reasons to doubt Daisey’s explanations.
My problem with this whole affair is Daisey’s reaction. He says he regrets airing the show. Fine. He also says he stands by his work because “What I do is not journalism.”
He knows his work is not journalism, and he knows that TAL is journalism. In three paragraphs, admits to knowing the difference between right and wrong and doing wrong anyway.
Using a word like “regret” to describe his actions is an offense to those of us who work with words to tell the truth every day.
So is a comparison of the integrity of his work to The New York Times‘ investigations.
The stark dichotomy between his words and actions imply that he wanted the notoriety of a big-name program to boost sales of his books and live shows. In essence, “I know this is not the truth, but I’ll cash the check.”
Daisey is nothing more than a conniving con-man, a clown who produces “theatrics” that no matter how close to being the truth, are not. He should be publicly shouted down for his disregard and willful manipulation of the TAL audience.