This post is inspired by a stint of research into what Apple executives’ reaction was to the “Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs”. Even though on a corporate communications level, Apple has responded to the conditions portrayed by Mike Daisey, Apple’s executives shied away from making public statements about Mike Daisey’s allegations…until today… Continue reading Epic Showdown: Tim Cook vs Mike Daisey (with a guest star as well)
Clearly I lack creativity.
Regardless, I imagine Steve Jobs had a domineering, “better than you persona”. While I’m sure I could Google his characteristics and find out what his overall tone was, for the purpose of this script, I am going to refrain from doing so, and go with my instinct.
Me: There has been a lot of upset regarding the treatment of Foxconn workers who manufacture your company’s products. Do you feel as though Apple is responsible?
Jobs: Apple is not the company implementing the harsh working conditions in such factories, nor is Apple the only company whose products are manufactured in these factories. Plenty of our competitors’ products are manufactured under the same roofs, and I do not see them under fire. Continue reading Steve Jobs the Jerk?
The ultimate entrepreneur of our times-the man and the legend. Steve Jobs’ wisdom and business acumen is certainly something that perhaps anyone in tech and beyond wishes to posses. Knowing what made Steve Jobs tick may or may not (probably not) turn me into a tech mogul overnight. However, as a MIDE major, getting a glimpse into the genius of Jobs would be priceless. During a dinner, the three broad questions that I’d ask him are: “Tell me about your youth…your school years, and India.”What are the small day-to-day things that make you successful”” and “how do you inspire and manage?”
In our third time around with the Mike Daisey and Apple story, I am left with three main thoughts, being both novel and recurring.
The first, and most prominent to me, was the question that I have not been fully able to answer across all three blogs: If this wasn’t all about Apple, would we really have cared? Did Mike Daisey’s story of Foxconn, beit true or false, only catch our attention because it was about a Man and a Company so revered by us that we couldn’t dare imagine Apple as being anything but the most ethical, the most innovative, and most popular company. But what if Mike Daisey had chosen to highlight Foxconn’s conditions under the context of Samsung, or Nokia? Would TAL have given it airtime? Would he have been asked to come to speak at tech/no? The answer I tend to believe is no, Continue reading So Why Did We Care?
Does art do a better job of getting to the truth than journalism? This question really stuck out to me, especially as we dig deeper into this controversy between Mike Daisey and Apple. As we all know, this question is brought up from the fact that Daisey’s emotional monologue turned out to be not quite as truthful as it is made out to be. However, even after knowing the facts, I am still touched by Daisey’s story. Why would it still have a positive affect on me if I didn’t believe it? I think this is an important point to bring up when deciding if art does in fact bring out the truth. Continue reading “But were the lies necessary?”
I noticed striking similarities between the events that were portrayed in the Bucknell Forum version of “The Agony and Exctasy of Steve Jobs” and the plot of George Orwell’s “1984”. In the beginning of the show, Apple’s famous 1984 commercial is shown with the catchphrase “…you’ll see why 1984 won’t be like “1984”.” Did Apple uphold that promise? The people marching in the background of the ad in aligned, controlled unison seemed strangely similar to the FOXCONN employees’ strict working conditions. As the play within the play continued on I began imagining a story within a story; that is, the reality of technology firms today within the confines of the story that far too often conceals the truth. The comparisons and generalizations I am going to make may not be entirely true, but it is not my goal to declare any truths, but rather to arouse questions (much like the ending of the Bucknell Forums’ play) or “Think Different”. Continue reading Don’t Bite the Apple: A fictional piece
Each time I listen to one of the talks based on Mike Daisey’s The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs, I pick up on a different detail. Continue reading To Have a Job or Be in Poverty, That Is the Question
I empathize with Ira Glass’ in his anger toward Mike Daisey. The Mike Daisey mishap is an embarrassment to This American Life. Ira Glass and producer Brian Reed both vouched for the validity of a story that turned out to be false. T.A.L. was arguably justified in retracting the radio show for its journalistic errors. The issue, however, is that Mike Daisey is not necessarily a journalist. Mike Daisey is an actor, or a type of activist. He stated, “My mistake, the mistake that I truly regret is that I had it on your show as journalism and it’s not journalism. It’s theater. I use the tools of theater and memoir to achieve its dramatic arc and of that arc and of that work I am very proud because I think it made you care, Ira, and I think it made you want to delve.” Though he does so retroactively, this quote has great importance. It is less important to me as to whether Mike Daisey thinks his work is journalism or art. What is important to me is the goal of the ‘act’ in Daiseys mind. Daisey goes on to talk about how his fabrications were woven into his narrative of his trip to China because people had lost interest in the Foxconn scandal. This is taking his apology to be truth, which I am hesitant to do. “[…]And he says that made a strong impression on him, seeing the coverage vanish like that, seeing people suddenly not interested in the workers there anymore[…]And he wanted to make a monologue that would make people care. That was his goal.”
A while back I was talking to a friend of mine who is obsessed with journalism. Like most journalists, she lives, speaks, and breathes controversy and through quick responses, emotional arguments, and sometimes (knowingly or unknowingly) dishonest statements she brings herself to the forefront of the conversation. In general, I like to share my opinion on any topics in the news, but with this person I felt like I could not accurately portray my opinion without it being twisted into something it was not. During one late night of a heated-debate I confronted her about her argument style describing it as “sensationalist”. She admitted to knowing that some of the things she said were not 100% true, but that she believed that it is okay to use arguments with more impact to get a point across. After all, there is no future for a journalist that doesn’t rouse support, and gather followers.This brought me to my understanding of the only truth behind media and journalism: The truth doesn’t sell.
For issues like the Apple, FOXCONN case, we want the answers be black and white. However, the truth is almost always grey, and the further dug into the story (with an open mind), the more complicated it becomes. The reality is that it would be impossible to convey the complexity of any issue in a podcast/report that would allow the audience to develop an informed decision. It then becomes the responsibility of the journalist 1. Create a short “snapshot” of the issue as a whole. 2. Create a story that will sell (which for most audiences is a sensationalist story they can repeat back to others) and 3. Represent the issue in a way that is (if fabricated) ethically justified.
I want to draw particular attention to the podcast titled 460: Retraction (found here http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/460/retraction), where Rob Schmitz, an award winning journalist, refutes the emotionally-driving fabricated story “The Agony and Ectasy of Steve Jobs” as told by author/actor Mike Daisey. Rob Schmitz refutes some key points from Mike Daisey’s monologue; for example, FOXCONN does not have armed gaurds outside the factory, the percentage of underage workers is likely under 1% of the total workforce, and in general conditions are not quite as bad as he had made them seem.
I don’t want to go into analyzing which argument is correct, but rather point out the potential flaws in the reporting of both Rob Schmitz and Mike Daisey. Firstly, Mike Daisey has obviously fabricated many details in his monologue which, in my opinon, allowed the story to hit mainstream attention. I think that people should question whether his visit to FOXCONN really caused him to feel strongly about the treatment of workers, or whether he saw the opportunity to hit it big with a emotionally-appealing story. As for Rob Schmitz, I wonder what motivates him to cut down a movement to bring attention to work conditions. There are still many unsolved problems that globalization has caused, that need the attention and emotional rallying of a majority of people to create change. The bottom
line question: When issues are never black and white, is it ever justified to sensationalize them into greater media attention?