I recently wrote about Radiolab’s podcast about the Hmong experience in Laos. I wrote about how I was upset over how Ms. Yang and Eng Yang, her uncle, were treated by the hosts of the podcast. I accepted that they were being journalists, maybe scientists, in their efforts to find the absolute truth. Maybe they were too focused on their purpose.
At least that’s how I felt until I read Ms. Yang’s response via Hyphen magazine. I learned that Mr. Yang was a documenter of the Hmong experience for the Thai government and that he also had knowledge of bees and the mountain of Laos. I learned that Ms. Yang offered extra reading for the show producers to supplement the show, but those were turned down due to lack of time. I learned that Ms. Yang’s response wasn’t published alongside Robert Krulwich and Jad Abumrad‘s responses.
I was touched over how Mr. Yang laid out a feast of fruits and treats for the Radiolab crew. I was pained over Ms. Yang’s loss of her baby.
What struck me as this part of Ms. Yang’s response to Dean Cappello, the chief content officer at WNYC:
“I just listened to the amended podcast this morning. I am struck by how many times a podcast on truth can (be) doctored, to protect itself.”
It does seem like Radiolab took precautions to protect itself. Either way, here we have two sides. If there is any lesson to be learned from this, it’s that you must seek the truth objectively and look at all sides. I believe Radiolab was harsh in their treatment of the Yangs – they were insensitive. I also can’t help but feel that Ms. Yang played the emotion card. She did start her Hyphen response by saying she was pregnant.
My final opinion?
Radiolab didn’t seek the truth as intently as they made it sound out to be.