Opinion

Anthony De Rosa

Was This American Life duped before?

Anthony De Rosa
Mar 19, 2012 23:09 UTC

Mike Daisey’s fantastical story about the mistreatment of workers at Foxconn and how he duped This American Life into airing it as fact is now well known. (if somehow you’ve been under a rock for the last week, here are smart takes by Jack Shafer and Felix Salmon) It may not, however be the first time that This American Life was duped by a con artist.

In fact it might be the third time, as Jack Shafer pointed out after Malcolm Gladwell’s “The Moth” story was aired on This American Life, which Gladwell later copped to being not entirely fact based.

A story that This American Life aired back in 1997 involved disgraced former journalist Stephen Glass discussing his time as a psychic. Glass later wrote this story for Harper’s February 1998 issue, as Aida Edemariam recounts in a May 2004 story for the Guardian.

The trouble was, in the February 1998 issue, we had just published a piece by Glass, a colourful tale of late nights spent working as a phone psychic. It had been checked by a colleague and had passed muster, but I was set to work, rechecking. The Post’s Howard Kurtz returned to the story a week later: “The New Republic has finished sifting through the journalistic wreckage left behind by Stephen Glass and the findings aren’t pretty: two-thirds of the 41 stories he wrote for the magazine were at least partially fabricated. Six articles” – and here Kurtz quoted from the New Republic’s apology, a half-page model of restraint compared to the Times’s 14,000-word mea culpa about its own fabricating journalist Jayson Blair five years later – ” ‘could be considered entirely or nearly entirely made up’.”

Here’s the audio of  Glass on This American Life:

Here’s the full episode that Glass appeared on (h/t Gabriel Snyder)

Hat tip to Duncan Ferguson for bringing the Stephen Glass association to This American Life to my attention.

The revolution will not be televised, it will however be livestreamed.

Anthony De Rosa
Mar 19, 2012 15:55 UTC

From Occupy Wall Street in its various locations around the world, to Tahrir Square in Egypt and now to Syria, where few reporters are able to enter, livestreams from citizen journalists increasingly are becoming the only window into what’s actually happening at any given moment during some of the biggest news events.

At the outset of the revolution in Egypt, a streaming video service called Bambuser allowed live video to be streamed directly from Tahrir Square. Ramy Raoof, human rights activist and editor for Egyptian Blog for Human Rights, regularly provided live video using nothing but his Nokia E90 camera phone.

This video, documenting a protest of the death and torture of Khaled Said, netted nearly 4,000 live viewers. The archive has been watched nearly 16,000 times.

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