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Anorak | Mike Daisey defends his mash-up reporting technique

Mike Daisey defends his mash-up reporting technique

by | 19th, March 2012

MIKE Daisey wrote and performed the hit monologue The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs. The show is about his visit to the Foxconn factory that makes Apple products in Shenzhen, China. Only, Mike Daisey made up big bits of it. He fabricated to make his point. Mike Daisey wanted to entertain.

It was broadcast over This American Life. That firm’s Ira Glass tells it:

“Daisey lied to me and to This American Life producer Brian Reed during the fact checking we did on the story, before it was broadcast. That doesn’t excuse the fact that we never should’ve put this on the air. In the end, this was our mistake.”

American Life says:

As best as we can tell, Mike’s monologue in reality is a mix of things that actually  happened when he visited China and things that he just heard about or researched, which  he then pretends that he witnessed first hand. He pretends that he just stumbled upon an  array of workers who typify all kinds of harsh things somebody might face in a factory  that makes iPhones and iPads. And the most powerful and memorable moments in the story all seem to be fabricated.

We meet Cathy. She’s the Chinese interpreter, Mike Daisey hired :

Mike Daisey: There’s a group that’s talking about hexane. N-hexane is an  iPhone screen cleaner. It’s great because it evaporates a little bit faster than alcohol does, which means you can run the production line even faster and try to keep up with the quotas. The problem is that n-hexane is a potent neurotoxin, and  all these people have been exposed. Their hands shake uncontrollably. Most of  them…can’t even pick up a glass.

Rob Schmitz (for American Life): ..shake uncontrollably. Some of them can’t even pick up a glass. Did you meet people who fit this description?
Cathy Lee : No.
Rob Schmitz : So there was nobody who said they were poisoned by hexane?
Cathy Lee : No. Nobody mentioned the Hexane.
Rob Schmitz : Ok. And nobody had hands that were shaking uncontrollably?
Cathy Lee: No.

So where did this come from? Two years ago, workers at an Apple supplier were poisoned by n-Hexane. It was all over the news in China. But this didn’t happen in Shenzhen. It happened nearly a thousand  miles away, in a city called Suzho.

Oskar Eustis, the director of the Public Theater in New York, told Entertainment Weekly  that “Mike is a great storyteller, not a journalist. I wish he had been clearer about that distinction in the making of this piece.”

Although the Independent is looking for Johann Hari’s replacement . (Hair is the cheating   journalist who wanted to entertain with his mash-ups.)

NPR reprots Daisey saying:  “The mistake that I truly regret is that I had it on your show as journalism and it’s not journalism. It’s theater.”

He allowed excerpts of his show to be used as a factual report on a news-radio program and vouched for the authenticity of his monologue during interviews with news outlets.

Says Daisey:

In the last forty-eight hours I have been equated with Stephen Glass, James

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Posted: 19th, March 2012 | In: News Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed: RSS 2.0 | TrackBack | Permalink