Wednesday, January 11, 2012

This American Life

This American Life (which originates at radio station WBEZ in Chicago and is available on many National Public Radio stations and as a free podcast) is usually a slice of life show, taking a topic and looking at it from a variety of perspectives, sometimes humorous or poignant. That is not to belittle the show. It is probably the best slice of life radio show ever made. At other times it offers journalism and analysis. It has offered several of the best reports on Afghanistan and several more on Iraq. Episode 310: "Habeas Schmabeas" (and later updated as episode 331: "Habeas Schmabeas 2007") is essential listening for anyone who wants to understand the detention of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay (today reaching its 10th year) and the violation of the legal principle of habeas corpus begun by the George W. Bush Administration and continued recently by legislation from Republicans in the U.S. Congress.  As the great recession has arrived and dragged its feet, there have been a series of first-rate economic and financial stories. This American Life offers affecting stories in endless variety, engendering laughter, tears, and outrage. It arms listeners with useful information.

This week’s episode "Mr. Daisey and the Apple factory" (episode 454) tells the story of a man who wanted to know more about the people who make Apple Computer products. What starts out as a personal story becomes a journalistic investigation. Highly recommended.

Related links:
Mr. Daisey and the Apple factory
Foxconn workers threaten mass suicide

Edited to add:
This American Life retracts the story. Mr. Daisey turns out not to have been much of a journalist after all. An entire episode is devoted to the retraction and it is a fascinating unraveling of the story behind the story. (follow here)

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