From NPR and Robert Krulwich, I present:
If the above video didn’t give you a good enough impression about what it’s like to circle the globe in 90 minutes, then listen to this episode of Radiolab
On July 19, 1957, six men stand beneath an atomic explosion set off in the deserts of the American Northwest. Five of them were volunteers.
Click through for the full story from NPR.
“Trust me,” she said. “I’m Indian, I’m British. A billion Indians can’t be wrong. They drink hot tea in hot weather.”
I love that quote.
NPR gives a brief explanation of a brief investigation. They could have tried a little harder with this article. Consider the quote above and then take a look at how he ends this piece:
I have to say I’m still a little skeptical about hot tea on a hot day. I’d still rather have a tall glass of ice water. What about you?
Even by NPR’s standards, that’s crappy journalism. “It’s just a blog,” you say? Once he calls up a neuroscientist and says “I’m with NPR” it’s more than just a blog. And he didn’t even answer his own question: Does drinking hot tea on a hot day actually cool you off (reduce body temperature), or is it just a physiological trick, like a ceiling fan, that makes you more comfortable without lowering body temperature?
My apologies. I didn’t intend to rant against this guy. I just wanted to call out Scott for not drinking hot coffee on the day he helped me move.
Over at NPR, of course.
Phil Elverum has two albums slated to come out this year – Clear Moon, and then later Ocean’s Roar.
Listen to this record.
This American Life has retracted Mike Daisey’s story about the Foxconn Factory. It’s been a couple of days since the retraction, but I have only now had a chance to sit down and listen to the story. You must listen to this podcast, even if you didn’t hear the original. This retraction salvages This American Life as a respectable journalistic source, and disgraces Mike Daisey. It’s really important to hear why.
This is a head-on collision between journalism and fiction. It demands a close examination in the declaration between journalism and fiction, which happens to be a favorite subject of mine to discuss.
This American Life has done an exquisite job of taking responsibility for the story, and they have meticulously highlighted and corrected the mistakes. The purpose of journalism is to report the facts of an event or situation, unaltered, in such a way that they inform the public as an unbiased source. The staff at This American Life should be applauded for their dedication to responsible journalism.
But Mike Daisey is not a journalist. He is a fiction writer and a performer who was asked to agree to the standards of good journalism. Fiction is the opposite of journalism. By definition fiction is not true. That is why this event is tricky. I would argue that all fiction must contain truth in order for it to resonate with another person, but the events of the piece do not have to have occurred so long as they facilitate the underlying truth of the story.
Daisey’s performance piece operates under a covert implication that his performance is highly fictionalized even though it is presented as journalism.
That is why what Mike Daisey has done is despicable, and why I think his reputation is damaged beyond salvage. This American Life did not have to be forced to correct their story when the facts came to light, whereas Mike Daisey toured the country, lying everywhere he went, in front of millions of people, to untold numbers of journalists. He attracted the attention of large journalism companies, and falsely attacked the reputation of Foxconn and Apple.
Though conditions at the factory are terrible, and even though Apple and Foxconn should be held responsible for those conditions, Apple and Foxconn cannot be expected to account for Mike Daisey’s fiction. Just like every scientist has to separate themselves from those who falsify scientific reports to prove global warming, from now on, every journalist who reports on working conditions will have to shake free of Mike Daisey’s mendacity. He has damaged journalism. He’s not even a journalist. Worse than that, he has damaged the crusade against working conditions at Foxconn, which was why he wrote his piece in the first place.
He has also damaged his reputation as a fiction writer. Plenty of people will still go to see his show, but it will no longer facilitate the underlying truth of his story because there is no way to know which parts are true and which have been fabricated. He is only slightly more trustworthy than a tabloid newspaper.
Mike Daisey has also compromised the integrity of This American Life. This American Life has retracted this story quickly, meticulously, and, as far as I can tell, accurately. That is why This American Life should continue to be a respectable journalistic source, but they had to dedicate an entire episode worth of effort to compensate for the damage that Mike Daisey has done, and they will forever have to account for that.
Here’s an amazing RadioLab episode titled Deception where a fellow named Paul Eckman defines a lie as “a deliberate choice to mislead a target without any notification.”
I was going to wait until next week, to avoid interrupting Beard Week, but it’s gaining a lot of momentum.
The organization behind this, Invisible Children, are doing everything right. They’ve been at work for years, but they’ve set a deadline for bringing Joseph Kony, a Ugandan warlord, to justice before the end of 2012. In order to accomplish this they’ve gone to where all of the major revolutions have grown in the past 5 years, the Internet.
They’re hitting all of the major social networking platforms. They’re enlisting celebrities and politicians who have the ability to make a large, social impact. Most importantly, they’re teaching young people how to make a difference by reaching out to their government, even though it doesn’t yield an immediate response. The video above is well constructed and makes the concept so easy to grasp that even a young child can understand what they are attempting to accomplish. It’s quite amazing.
There is some opposition to the claims made by Invisible Children, stating their facts are incorrect or grossly exaggerated, but it doesn’t change the fact that Joseph Kony is still #1 on the International Criminal Court‘s list.
It will be interesting to see the impact of this movement, not only in its effectiveness in bringing a monster to justice, but how the apathetic youth we all once were/are reacts. Will they bring the same kind of enthusiasm to be the change they want to see locally, or will it be a flash in the pan moment of action?
During the time since posting this I received a few links to articles from friends on Twitter and Facebook that focused on Invisible Children’s use of donations and questioning what would actually happen if Kony was taken out of power. Watching the video the first time I was a little put off by the push for people to buy their “action kit”, or whatever they called it. At no point did I feel the need to send them anything. Getting people to buy trinkets isn’t horrible, but the question of how the money is put to use should always be asked. The Daily What have an article with a fairly extensive number of links to educate you further. After that, decide whether or not you want to give them money. What I want is to see young people come together to accomplish SOMETHING. Get the sense that if you’re passionate about a cause, it is possible for you and a few friends to make a difference.
I think it’s only fair to allow Invisible Children the chance to respond.
Streaming right now, in entirety, on NPR.
This is their first album in seven years.