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Story about abuse at Apple factory was false says US radio show

This American Life had broadcast a show in January which said abuse was happening at Apple factories in China – but now it has retracted the show and apologised.

Image: qnb/AP/Press Association Images

A US RADIO show which broadcast claims about abuse in Apple factories in China has retracted the programme and apologised, saying it cannot vouch for the truth of the report.

The host of the popular radio show This American Life said there were “numerous fabrications” in the programme broadcast on 6 January about working conditions at Foxconn, which makes Apple products.

The programme had accused Foxconn of hiring underage employees and forcing them to work long hours.

The performance artist who made the programme admitted he took shortcuts – but says that he stands by his work and that he is involved in theatre and not journalism.

“It uses a combination of fact, memoir, and dramatic licence to tell its story, and I believe it does so with integrity,” Mike Daisey said in a statement on his website. “What I do is not journalism”.

This weekend’s episode of This American Life was dedicated to detailing the errors in Daisey’s story and examining how it happened. The host of the show Ira Glass said:

We’re letting the audience know that too many of the details about the people he says he met are in dispute for us to stand by the story. I suspect that many things that Mike Daisey claims to have experienced personally did not actually happen, but listeners can judge for themselves.

Glass said that the programme contained a number of falsehoods:

Some of the falsehoods found in Daisey’s monologue are small ones: the number of factories Daisey visited in China, for instance, and the number of workers he spoke with. Others are large. In his monologue he claims to have met a group of workers who were poisoned on an iPhone assembly line by a chemical called n-hexane. Apple’s audits of its suppliers show that an incident like this occurred in a factory in China, but the factory wasn’t located in Shenzhen, where Daisey visited.

The episode “Mr Daisey and the Apple Factory” had been the most popular podcast in the history of This American Life with over 880,000 downloads.

Listen to the This American Life episode ‘Retraction’ >

Apple shares hit record high of $600 >

iPad 3 launched, goes on sale in Ireland on 23 March >

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