Unapologetic Deception

Guest Post by Rebecca French, Aspiring Photojournalist

A key component to informational journalism is the distinction between truth and objectivity. Objectivity connects the aspects of human perception with the facts of the matter and then further developed knowledge on the subject. Journalists are often perceived as refusing to allow their personal bias to influence what they report; however, in many cases, like that of Mike Daisey, a pragmatist approach of an ever changing stream of consciousness might be more evident.

ADaisey was accused of fabricating extreme accusations about the Foxconn factory he visited in China where Apple manufactures many of its products. Daisey then shared these viewpoints in his theatrical monologue performance of “The Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs.” The turmoil begins when Ira Glass’ This American Life picked up the monologue and similar stories from Daisey as a regular segment on the show. After a few months of speculation, it finally came to the surface that Daisey had in fact manufactured a significant amount of information in his monologue, which he claimed as non-fiction. This American Life was then forced to retract their association with the performance claiming they were unable to confirm the details of the story and would not have aired if they knew it was fabricated fiction.

One of the major issues addressed in this story is the idea of perception and initial understanding. Walter Lippman said, “for the most part, we do not first see, and then define, we define first and then see,” rightfully defining our generation as unapologetic assumption-makers. We have become complacent in our understanding to the point where we assume the media and content we are being shown and told is right and just. As the “seeing is believing” generation, we are quick to assume what we’re told constantly in digital media corresponds with the reality around us, when in fact, it’s far from the truth. We have lost our way from the days of oral culture and the handed down traditions of the Greeks and instead see things through our pragmatic perceptions that are ever evolving as we encounter new and interesting content.

As convergence takes a bigger role in the process of research, we need to learn to use sounds, images and words in conjunction with the factual details to emphasize the active investigation behind our journalism. An active audience in accordance with tenacious investigative journalism can produce educational content, while maintaining interest. However, we have become the cat chasing the mouse, on our hunt for constant new and interesting content, and rarely take the time to slow down and realize what we see might just be a deception from reality.

Graphic courtesy of: journal.journalisminnovation.org

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