HOME
          
LATEST STORY
Complicating the network: The year in social media research
ABOUT                    SUBSCRIBE
March 26, 2012, 5:47 p.m.

This American Life’s retraction of the Mike Daisey story set an online listening record

Nearly 900,000 people streamed or downloaded Episode 460, “Retraction,” in the first week after it aired.

One common problem with journalistic errors is that it’s rare for a correction to get as much attention as the original mistake. The screwup goes viral; the mea culpa is a footnote.

But that wasn’t the case with the stunning, sometimes excruciating retraction of Mike Daisey’s partially fabricated This American Life story about working conditions in the Chinese factories that supply Apple products. The hour-long correction attracted more online listeners in its first week than any episode in the program’s history — including the original Daisey show back in January, which previously held the record.

This American Life logoSome 891,474 people have podcasted or streamed Episode 460, titled simply “Retraction,” according to production manager Seth Lind.

Daisey’s original story remains, for now at least, the most listened-to episode in the show’s online history, but it had about two months after its air date to keep gathering listeners. That episode was “the single most popular podcast in This American Life’s history, with 888,000 downloads (typically the number is 750,000) and 206,000 [subsequent] streams to date,” according to a March 16 statement. (This American Life also has about 1.8 million radio listeners a week.)

The audio of the January story has since been removed from the TAL website. (You can still hear it here.) This American Life’s hourlong retraction is no longer available for free download — downloads of all episodes are disabled after one week — but it is still available for streaming on the TAL website and in its mobile apps.

Daisey apologized again yesterday, saying he let down journalists, human-rights workers, and the theater community. “When I said onstage that I had personally experienced things I in fact did not, I failed to honor the contract I’d established with my audiences over many years and many shows,” Daisey wrote. “In doing so, I not only violated their trust, I also made worse art.”

POSTED     March 26, 2012, 5:47 p.m.
SHARE THIS STORY
   
Show comments  
Show tags
 
Join the 15,000 who get the freshest future-of-journalism news in our daily email.
Complicating the network: The year in social media research
Journalist’s Resource sifts through the academic journals so you don’t have to. Here are 12 of the studies about social and digital media they found most interesting in 2014.
News in a remix-focused culture
“We have to stop thinking about how to leverage whatever hot social platform is making headlines and instead spend time understanding how communication is changing.”
Los Angeles is the content future
“Creative content people are frustrated with the industry and creating their content on their own terms. Sound familiar?”
What to read next
500
tweets
Complicating the network: The year in social media research
Journalist’s Resource sifts through the academic journals so you don’t have to. Here are 12 of the studies about social and digital media they found most interesting in 2014.
429What’s the right news experience on a phone? Stacy-Marie Ishmael and BuzzFeed are trying to figure it out
“Nobody has to read you. You have to earn that. You have to respect people’s attention.”
343Come work for Nieman Lab
We have an opening for a staff writer in our Cambridge newsroom.
These stories are our most popular on Twitter over the past 30 days.
See all our most recent pieces ➚
Encyclo is our encyclopedia of the future of news, chronicling the key players in journalism’s evolution.
Here are a few of the entries you’ll find in Encyclo.   Get the full Encyclo ➚
MediaNews Group
Creative Commons
The Chronicle of Higher Education
El País
Current TV
Voice Media Group
Neighborlogs
The Fiscal Times
Instapaper
Gawker Media
PBS NewsHour
Suck.com