This is a little off-topic from the usual EMUTalk.org fare, but I thought it was quite interesting myself and thought others out there– especially those of us who are interested in things like research, observations, “truth” versus “truthiness” versus “fiction” in our academic lives. From the IHE blog Library Babel Fish comes “Killing the Story.” Here are the first couple paragraphs:
When I listened to Mike Daisy’s monologue on This American Life about the Foxconn factory where Apple iPads are made, I thought about assigning the podcast to students in a research class I’m teaching. It struck me that it would be a good way to consider the environmental and social issues that we tend to ignore when we think about the technology tools we use every day, tools that are essential for research. I also thought it would be valuable to discuss how we might evaluate the validity of information that comes infused with emotion and art by contrasting Daisy’s monologue with the material that followed, in which other thoughtful people complicated the issue: those factory jobs, with their long hours and unsafe conditions, are nevertheless raising many people’s standard of living significantly. How do we make ethical decisions about such complex issues?
As it turned out, I didn’t assign it – and was relieved I hadn’t when Twitter lit up with the news that This American Life was retracting the story, having found many of the things Daisy claimed to have heard or witnessed to be false. Listening to the most recent episode of This American Life, in which reporter Rob Schmitz uncovered the falsehoods in Daisy’s story and Ira Glass grilled the storyteller about his behavior, was pretty excruciating and reminded me of Oprah’s public shaming of James Frey after his “memoir” was debunked as exaggerations and lies.
By the way, that excerpt contains the links to the This American Life episodes. I listened to the most recent one where they “retracted” the original story, and it was one of the most compelling and gripping things I’ve heard on the radio (well, in my case, in the form of a podcast) in a long long time.