The New York Times has updated it’s Mike Daisey op-ed with the following:
Editor’s Note: Questions have been raised about the truth of a paragraph in the original version of this article that purported to talk about conditions at Apple’s factory in China. That paragraph has been removed from this version of the article.
Here is the paragraph that they excised, which I was able to find here:
I have traveled to southern China and interviewed workers employed in the production of electronics. I spoke with a man whose right hand was permanently curled into a claw from being smashed in a metal press at Foxconn, where he worked assembling Apple laptops and iPads. I showed him my iPad, and he gasped because he’d never seen one turned on. He stroked the screen and marveled at the icons sliding back and forth, the Apple attention to detail in every pixel. He told my translator, “It’s a kind of magic.
As the press release (pdf) from This American Life confirms this is one of the stories that Daisey’s translator denies ever occurred. So I think Daisey perhaps needs to expand his apology which says his only regret is allowing This American Life to excerpt from his monologue, which was theater and not journalism:
What I do is not journalism. The tools of the theater are not the same as the tools of journalism. For this reason, I regret that I allowed THIS AMERICAN LIFE to air an excerpt from my monologue. THIS AMERICAN LIFE is essentially a journalistic - not a theatrical - enterprise, and as such it operates under a different set of rules and expectations. But this is my only regret.
Writing an op-ed for the New York Times is also not theater, so I’m thinking we will not remain his “only regret” for long.
I’m hearing a lot of people say the real tragedy is that the things Daisey pretended he saw actually do happen and this whole debacle does a disservice to that truth. I side more with the wise Adam Minter, who is quoted here by Rob Schmitz, the journalist that caught Daisey in the first place:
“People like a very simple narrative,” said Adam Minter, a columnist for Bloomberg who’s spent years visiting more than 150 Chinese factories. He’s writing a book about the scrap recycling industry.
He says the reality of factory conditions in China is complicated—working at Foxconn can be grueling, but most workers will tell you they’re happy to have the job. He says Daisey’s become a media darling because he’s used an emotional performance to focus on a much simpler message:
“Foxconn bad. iPhone bad. Sign a petition. Now you’re good,” Minter says. “That’s a great simple message and it’s going to resonate with a public radio listener. It’s going to resonate with the New York Times reader. And I think that’s one of the reasons he’s had so much traction.”
And Minter says the fact that Daisey has not told the truth to people about what he saw in China won’t have much of an impact on how the public sees this issue.
Minter’s criticism of the overly simplistic story that misses the complicated reality of China’s factory conditions was true before Daisey’s lies were exposed, and they are true still.