I had been fascinated about the Mike Daisey story that broke some months back here in the US.
It opened up a can of worms about how truth (or ‘truthiness’ as Stephen Colbert put it) and how we twist and maim words and facts. Politicians do it, as do talk-show hosts, reporters, advertisers, scientists, corporate leaders etc.
As someone who writes for the media, I thought this brouhaha was way too important to dismiss as one man’s folly. Daisey was the everyman in a culture of compromised truths and spin; a culture that sometimes believes the means justifies the end in getting a message across. (Anyone remembers Message Force Multipliers?) The infamous scientist who lied about climate studies admitted he had has a “serious lapse” of “professional judgment and ethics.”
The classic statement by Daisey for me was this:
“I’m not going to say that I didn’t take shortcuts in my passion to be heard. But I stand behind my work… It’s not journalism. It’s theatre,”
Is marketing also ‘theater’ then? It could be argued that some aspects of it –product display, packaging etc– is staged, right? Could some forms of PR (stunts, at least) be also considered theater? Are we sometimes taking Daisey-esque ‘shortcuts’? This is the uncomfortable space many of us operate in.
That’s the background to my recent piece in LMD Magazine, titled “Truth, Lies and iPhones.” Read it here.
(Incidentally ‘truthiness‘ despite its quirkiness, became the Number 1 Word of the Year in 2006.)