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Monday, March 19, 2012

‘This American Life’ Retracts Apple Story

Mike Daisey is shown in a scene from "The Agony and The Ecstasy of Steve Jobs." (AP Photo/Stan Barouh)

Mike Daisey is shown in a scene from "The Agony and The Ecstasy of Steve Jobs." (AP Photo/Stan Barouh)

This weekend, Ira Glass and his team at  the public radio show “This American Life” retracted a story they ran in January about working conditions at Foxconn factories in southern China. The story featured the work of writer and monologuist, Mike Daisey.

The segment on “This American Life” — titled “Mr. Daisey And The Apple Factory” — was riveting. Daisey told of what he witnessed at the factories — he saw armed guards at factory gates, and met under-aged workers. He described going to Starbucks to meet with factory workers. Daisey told of workers exposed to a poisonous substance that’s used in iPhones and iPads.

Rob Schmitz heard the segment and something seemed off to his ears. Like the Starbucks the migrant workers frequented; Schmitz didn’t think factories workers went to Starbucks — it was expensive. And the gun-toting guards. And the exposed workers. Schmitz — China bureau chief for Marketplace — contacted Daisey’s Chinese translator from the fact-finding trip. The translator disputed many of Daisey’s statements.

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Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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