The Importance of Truth

If you haven’t already heard, This American Life spent an hour doing something they’ve never had to do before – retract a story about Mike Daisey. Obviously Ira Glass is an incredible storyteller and after Friday’s broadcast, he’s demonstrated his respect for the craft and for his audience – even if it makes him and his show look bad.  Here’s the show:

The story wasn’t factual but we got to learn a lot about the character of the team at This American Life. It was all subtext but we’ve now seen the evidence of how serious they take reporting facts and not manipulating emotions to tell a great story.

Due to the excellence that they’ve demonstrated in this time of trouble, I’d gather that their tribe has responded positively. As a regular listener, this sad event hasn’t impacted me negatively- instead it’s just the opposite, I’m willing to “double down” my trust with the show and Ira Glass. At the same time, Mike Daisey was in a position to come clean and be very honest and set the record straight. Instead, he played the game of semantics, unspeak, and couldn’t be nailed down on most facts. He lost any respect I had for him. and I’m not interested in seeing any work he’ll create for stage or screen.

Non-Profits can benefit from this demonstration. Truth is paramount and you’ve got to hold to the truth of your message with a vigilance that’s second to none. How often have we seen scandals break out and the backlash that follows? Nearly all are contributed to some sort of retraction, or misleading that’s happened. This American Life doesn’t answer to a bunch of donors but if their audience turned on them, they’d be in a similar spot – no job or speaking to a large empty room. They’d be a footnote when regaling great falls from grace.

Tell your story and the truth.

Did you listen to the story? How have you seen non-profits benefit from truth? What do you think of Mike Daisey?