This American Blunder!

Anyone interested in journalistic errors and retractions might have followed the recent saga of NPR’s This American Life’s (TLF) which ran – and then retracted – extracts from Mike Daisey’s one-man play that told of his travels to the Foxconn factory in China where Apple products were made.

The outcry led to Apple opening up a special investigation. But then TLF retracted the whole thing in an hour-long episode that tore it to shreds – a remarkable first for dealing with journalistic “errors”. (Daisey’s version was that he was not a journalist, so entitled to bend the facts.)

Here are some interesting facts published by the Columbia Journalism Review’s Hard Facts columns that throw light on the whole episode:

888,000
downloads of “Mr. Daisey and the Apple Factory,” the January 6 This American Life episode based on Mike Daisey’s one-man play that chronicled his travels to the Foxconn factory in China where Apple products are manufactured

750,000
typical number of downloads for a TAL episode

73,000
Google searches for “Mike Daisey” in the week following the original TAL broadcast

-.16 percent
change in Apple’s stock price over the weekend following the Friday, January 6, broadcast of “Mr. Daisey and the Apple Factory”

256,425
(and counting) signatures on a Change.org petition calling for Apple to improve conditions in its China factories, following the original TAL broadcast

891,000
downloads of “Retraction,” the hour-long TAL mea culpa that explained how numerous inaccuracies were uncovered in the Daisey story after the fact

9
number of times the word “lie” or “lied” was used in TAL’s retraction episode

127,000
Google searches for “Mike Daisey” in the week following TAL’s retraction

+2.65 percent
change in Apple’s stock price over the weekend following the Friday, March 16, broadcast of “Retraction”

3,000,000
number of the new iPad 3s sold in the four days following its release on March 16

486
(and counting) signatures on a petition to withdraw the Change.org petition following the “Retraction” episode

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