Twitter  Yahoo is buying Flurry, a mobile analytics and ad platform nie.mn/1mxnfct  
Nieman Journalism Lab
Pushing to the future of journalism — A project of the Nieman Foundation at Harvard

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.”

                                   
What to read next
Correctiv feature
Caroline O'Donovan    July 17, 2014
The new CORRECT!V is trying to find a place for foundation-supported media in Europe’s largest economy.
  • Anonymous

    Bad art. That’s the worst thing. “Tear him for his bad verses!” (Julius Caesar, III iii)

  • http://twitter.com/domurtag Donal Murtagh

    Can you point us to a link here that actually works, please? http://huffduffer.com/plastikstuhl/61257

  • http://andrewphelps.com Andrew Phelps

    I don’t know what to tell you, @twitter-16692717:disqus. The audio had worked before.

  • NYer

    For $.99, you can download the Retraction episode from iTunes:
    http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/460-retraction/id512211426

  • Chicagoan

    The key is to download each week on iTunes and just never delete them :D