HOME
          
LATEST STORY
The newsonomics of telling your audience what they should do
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.
The newsonomics of telling your audience what they should do
At WNYC, a public radio station is getting more aggressive about telling people what to do: go vote, get more sleep, stay healthy. What happens when a news outlet starts talking about behavior change?
It’s time to apply for a Nieman Fellowship
It’s a chance to spend a year at Harvard strengthening both journalism and yourself. Application deadlines are approaching soon.
Here’s some remarkable new data on the power of chat apps like WhatsApp for sharing news stories
At least in certain contexts, WhatsApp is a truly major traffic driver — bigger even than Facebook. Should there be a WhatsApp button on your news site?
What to read next
686
tweets
Ken Doctor: The New York Times’ financials show the transition to digital accelerating
The numbers may look flat, but they contain a continuing set of ups and downs. Up next: executing on a year’s worth of launches.
496Controlled chaos: As journalism and documentary film converge in digital, what lessons can they share?
Old and new media types from journalism, documentary, and technology backgrounds gathered at MIT to share practices and discuss mutual concerns.
362Here’s some remarkable new data on the power of chat apps like WhatsApp for sharing news stories
At least in certain contexts, WhatsApp is a truly major traffic driver — bigger even than Facebook. Should there be a WhatsApp button on your news site?
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 ➚
PolitiFact
Zonie Report
Fox News
Creative Commons
Ushahidi
Newsmax
CNN
The Atlantic
Houston Chronicle
The Times of London
International Consortium of Investigative Journalists
San Diego News Network