In case you're unfamiliar with the story, there's been some news stories about working conditions in China, especially with respect to Apple's iPhone and iPad manufacturing. One of the most compelling stories was told by Mike Daisey, a monologist who traveled to China for himself and heard first-hand the stories of workers, and then made a show about it. This American Life liked it so much they put his show, or some of it, on the air.
But it turns out he actually made up quite a bit of the story. TAL is issuing a retraction this week, and other news agencies who carried the story may need to do similar things.
Daisey has issued a statement that he "stands by his work". He's not a journalist, and is entitled to dramatic license in telling his story.
Now, as it happens, much of what he said isn't untrue. Moreover, it probably heightened awareness of what might be a real problem, and it may have spurred Apple to act more openly about its plans. some of the news stories were the result of Apple's own report on the issue, so it's not as if they were hiding about it. Would they prefer people not think about such things when buying their products? Probably; so maybe Daisey did some amount of good in raising awareness.
Yet I'm appalled that his story, presented as it was as if it really happened to him, was not true. The problem is that he made it seem as if it were an open secret. As if this thing were so commonplace that all it took was some foreign guy to wander up and ask a few people and he could hardly avoid meeting someone with a terrible story to tell. And I think his lack of credibility might hurt the overall story just as much as it heightened awareness.
My opinion is that he can't just hide behind the "not a journalist" defense when telling such a story. I don't think just journalists should be required to tell the truth. This, to me, crosses a line that dramatic license does not allow for.
What do you think? Did he take it too far - or is the fault somewhere else?