updated 02:15 pm EDT, Fri March 16, 2012
This American Life says Daisey story wrong
(Update: details) A popular documentary radio show that airs on most National Public Radio (NPR) stations, This American Life, has taken the rare step of not just retracting its story on Foxconn's working conditions, but devoting an entire episode to the correction. Its earlier episode, "Mr. Daisey Goes to the Factory," was said by the production company to have been "partially fabricated." Marketplace reporter Rob Schmitz, a figure in the new "Retraction" episode, believed that "much" of Daisey's story had problems.
Just what had been in error wasn't discussed, although Daisey had allegedly "misled This American Life during the fact-checking process," the radio show said. The program is produced by Chicago Public Media and distributed by Public Radio International.
As a response, Daisey insisted his point of view was authentic. As evidence, he pointed to the detailed investigation at the New York Times that, he believed, echoed much of his experience. He regretted letting This American Life play a segment of his monologue from The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs, but only because he believed it may have given the false impression that the semi-fictional stage performance was completely accurate.
He was still glad that his investigations and his stage show helped spark a "growing storm of attention and concern about technology manufacturing in China, not just for Apple but for others.
An about-face on the contents of the show wouldn't completely overturn the perception of Foxconn, where excessive overtime, underage labor, and sometimes dangerous conditions have been well-known. It may call into question the accuracy of some accounts as well as protests that might lean too heavily on a single account of events.
Update: In a release (PDF), This American Life pointed out three key problems. Daisey allegedly didn't have contact information for the translator, radio host Ira Glass said. He had also supposedly met workers poisoned by n-hexane in a different city than where it has been an issue. Daisey also supposedely hadn't talked to some of the prominent subjects, such as a person with a crippled hand or underaged workers.