“It’s not journalism, it’s theater”
When NPR learned that Mike Daisey fabricated his story on Apple products and Chinese sweatshops, they did everything in their power to maintain credibility as a news organization. This American Life devoted an hour of their show to detailing the false statements made in the broadcast. Instead of placing the blame on Mr. Daisey, NPR said it was ultimately their mistake. A news organization willing to take full responsibility is an organization that will uphold respect from their audience.
A link to NPR’s audio retraction explanation can be found here.
And I’m coming to you today to say something that I’ve never had to say on our program…That was a mistake.
I can say now in retrospect that when Mike Daisey wouldn’t give us contact information for his interpreter we should’ve killed the story rather than run it. we never should’ve broadcast this story without talking to that woman.
Instead, we trusted his word. Although he’s not a journalist, we made clear to him that anything he was going to say on our show would have to live up to journalistic standards. He had to be truthful. And he lied to us.
Although almost all Americans take time out of their day to consume news, many distrust the people to provide it to them. Unfortunately, mistakes from individuals throughout history have left their mark on the journalism industry. It is up to the news organizations to stand their ground during controversies and continue to create news that is fit to print.