Mike Daisey’s account of working conditions at Foxconn in China was clearly meant to shock the American public. And it worked. But after listening to the retraction TAL, I almost feel stupid for believing that things could be as miserable as Daisey described. While there could obviously be improvements, the retraction episode showed numerous fabrications and inaccuracies’. While all were important, the error that struck me the most involved underage workers.
While TAL was obviously at fault for not following through on Daisey’s translator, I don’t think any of us were suspicious when we heard about 12 and 13 year olds working in factories. I know I have heard numerous horror stories about child labor throughout the world, so this just seemed like another example. But the reason it struck me the most was that I believe this was Daisey’s main moral, human shot at Apple. Child labor evokes strong emotions from the American public, because we have checks that protect children. Daisey knew this would strike almost any type of person listening, and it’s what damages his credibility the most.
Jordi asked the question of whether or not you can fact check the fact checker, and I think the retraction podcast proves you can. My dad works in newspapers, and he knows that a rule of thumb for most news sources is 2 or more sources prior to printing. TAL didn’t do it’s job, but that’s not to say that nothing good came from Daisey’s monologue. It prompted Apple to investigate the claims, and together with the Fair Trade Association has significantly improved conditions. The state has agreed to cut hours by one third by 2013, showing that good can come from a lie