Here’s some facts:

  • Mike Daisey is a dramatic monologuist who traveled to Shenzhen, China, and created a successful one-man show based on the trip, The Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs.
  • The show details harsh working conditions in China at the Foxconn factories that make Apple’s iPhones and iPads.
  • Daisey performed a shortened version of the show, “Mr. Daisey and the Apple Factory,” for a This American Life broadcast in January.
  • Yesterday, This American Life announced that it was retracting the show.
  • It turns out that Daisey’s monologue, which seemed to document labor abuses firsthand, was full of fabrications, and that Daisey had lied to This American Life’s fact-checkers in the course of preparing the show.
  • Last night, This American Life broadcast and posted an utterly fascinating self-investigation about what happened and how it screwed up.

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Stories have consequences. Today, the most effective journalists find and tell stories that make a difference in the world.

All stories are shaped by their creators. The notion that anyone can just “tell a story straight” is a delusion. I made an effort just now, above, to tell the Daisey story neutrally in a handful of bullet points. But everyone who knows the story and reads this summary will have questions about what bits I put in and which ones I left out, why I picked certain words and not others. And by the end I couldn’t resist telling you how fascinating I thought the This American Life postmortem was.