Several weeks ago the internet was abuzz with a report by a reporter named Mike Daisy, who had gone where few others had gone before, behind the scenes with workers from Foxconn – the Chinese company that makes apple products. There were dramatic descriptions of a worker seeing an assembled iPad for the first time in his life, and illegal union organizers explaining their failed attempts to organize. Being that it was about such an important company – Apple, who have long had controversy surrounding their production facilities in China, the story was immediately heralded as proof of what has long been talked about but never fully exposed.
Suddenly this week, a new revelation: Mike Daisy made up dramatic stories about visiting the factory that never took place. The radio show, This American Life, which had proudly presented Daisy’s work, offered their apologies to listeners and explained how they had been previously unable to confirm his stories and chose to air them anyway. It took feedback from many foreign journalists in China, who noticed references to armed guards, factory workers hanging out in Starbuck’s and a few other suspicious details, to finally reveal the story contained many fallacies.
Though Daisy had once gone to stand outside the factory and talk to people, he had not met any of the characters he claimed. None of the eye-opening testimony he cites ever took place. One journalist even tracked down the Chinese-English translator, who didn’t deny having worked with Daisy, but was surprised by the amount of meetings and details that Daisy’s report contains that she has no recollection of ever happening.
So what happened? This American Life aired a new interview with the writer to confront him about the many parts of the story that seemed to be lies. Daisy answered in the affirmative, he had used details he heard second hand, stories of factory workers poisoned by iPhone screen cleaning chemicals, guessing that young looking workers were under age. For him it was a way to build an effective story, it becomes clear that this man wanted to reach people with a powerful message about where our electronics come from and how they are made, even if it meant inventing important parts of the story.
Source: This American Life
Photo: _pr_ / flickr