Thursday, February 09, 2012

This American Life: Mr. Daisey and the Apple Factory

[Michael Benton -- I first heard this episode a month ago on the radio while driving and I remember sitting in my car after I had arrived at my destination, there was no way I was going to miss the last ten minutes. I was riveted and when I got home I looked the episode up to see if I could find it to share. At the time it hadn't been posted on This American Life's website yet, and, of course, in the busyness of the beginning of a new semester I lost track of it.....

Currently I have a 100 argument writing students researching projects on corporate culture and three of the students decided to write on the sweatshops involved in the manufacture of ipods. In my discussions with my students as they developed their research projects I remembered this episode.]

Mr. Daisey and the Apple Factory
This American Life (WBEZ: Chicago Public Media)

Mike Daisey was a self-described "worshipper in the cult of Mac." Then he saw some photos from a new iPhone, taken by workers at the factory where it was made. Mike wondered: Who makes all my crap? He traveled to China to find out.

Host Ira Glass speaks with an Apple device about its origin. (2 minutes)

Act One. Mister Daisey Goes to China.
Mike Daisey performs an excerpt that was adapted for radio from his one-man show "The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs." A lifelong Apple superfan, Daisey sees some photos online from the inside of a factory that makes iPhones, starts to wonder about the people working there, and flies to China to meet them. His show restarts a run at New York's Public Theater later this month. (39 minutes)

Act Two. Act One.
What should we make of what Mike Daisey saw in China? Our staff did weeks of fact checking to corroborate Daisey's findings. Ira talks with Ian Spaulding, founder and managing director of INFACT Global Partners, which goes into Chinese factories and helps them meet social responsibility standards set by Western companies (Apple's Supplier Responsibility page is here), and with Nicholas Kristof, columnist for The New York Times who has reported in Asian factories. In the podcast and streaming versions of the program he also speaks with Debby Chan Sze Wan, a project manager at the advocacy group SACOM, Students and Scholars Against Corporate Misbehavior, based in Hong Kong. They've put out three reports investigating conditions at Foxconn (October 2010, May 2011, Sept 2011). Each report surveyed over 100 Foxconn workers, and they even had a researcher go undercover and take a job at the Shenzhen plant. (15 minutes)

To Listen to the Episode

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