On January 10, 2012, I wrote a post for this blog that focused on workers’ rights in the Chinese factories that are making iPads, iPhones, and other Apple Products (see Do You Know Who Actually Makes Your Gadgets?). In this post, I linked to a dramatic story told by Mike Daisey about his trip to China and the suffering he saw from workers in Apple’s factories. This story was on the This American Life website, which is a news magazine highly regarded for its journalistic standards. Interestingly, This American Life has retracted this story, because Mike Daisey lied about his trip to China and about his interactions with Chinese workers. The fascinating part is that most of his allegations about working conditions were actually documented by Apple and human rights groups, but because Daisey fabricated large portions of his story, all of his story has been called into question. This American Life has retracted the piece in order to maintain its journalistic credibility. (See this Wikipedia article on “retraction” for the basics and the difference between a retraction and a correction.)
This American Life did an entire show about their retraction and about the errors in the original story. This retraction story is way more interesting than the initial piece. It shows how journalism should work and how it can go wrong. For students, this presents useful information literacy knowledge.