The leaders of Chicago Public Radio and “This American Life” will conduct an in-depth examination into why they had to retract perhaps the most popular episode in the show’s nearly 17-year-history.
Torey Malatia, president of Chicago Public Radio, which produces “This American Life,” told me for a Current.org story that he wants to see what went wrong with the show’s fact-checking:
`“We are doing a forensic on this whole thing as soon as Ira [Glass] gets back, and we will write up some policies on verification and confirmation,” Malatia said. “Our managing editor, Ira and some folks from other shows will be involved, and there will be a report handed over to our board for approval.” …
“My instincts are that, had the procedures been followed the way it is usually done, you never would have heard the initial broadcast,” Malatia said.
Malatia has already taken a big lesson from this embarrassing episode: “There is a universal responsibility for attention to detail that never goes away and can never be assumed. It’s like practicing scales if you are a musician. Even if you are virtuoso, you still have to practice scales.”
Malatia told me that he understands the damage done to the show’s credibility. “This is so surprising because the fact-checking is amazingly rigid. Sixteen-and-a-half years of doing this work, and it being particularly revered for its insight, came from using an almost military discipline with fact-checking.”
He added that “one of the more remarkable things is through all the years of doing this, so much work is never aired because it doesn’t meet our standards. We pay so much for kill fees. Tons of things never get on. It’s not like these people are shy about pulling the plug. If you work around them, you have a sense of their pride that everything has to be meaningful to the public and as it is represented.”
Related: The unanswered questions about ‘This American Life’ and journalism (Poynter) | Retraction episode set record for number of online listeners in first week (Nieman Journalism Lab) || Earlier: Ira Glass thought he would have to convince Daisey to do the original episode (Current.org) | 4 important truths about Mike Daisey’s lies & the way ‘This American Life’ told them (Poynter)