Apple in China in Late Essay

Excerpt from Essay :

In China, that is not the case and there are tens of millions of peasants who would read such descriptions and think those workers lucky. Such context would have made for a more balanced and honest article.

Indeed, the initial article is one of the more flawed in the series of reports that the Times put out on the Foxconn issue. The article begins with an anecdote about a worker who was killed in an accident. The reality is that workers are killed on the job every day in America, too. The company paid his family quickly with a check as compensation. Again, the article makes this sound somewhat harsh, but an American firm might drag the case through the court system for years. There is no sense of contrast provided in the scathing original article that would allow a reader to have a better sense of why China's working conditions are the way they are. Surely if Apple produced in the U.S., the same anecdotes might be heard. Software developers might complain of 100-hour weeks prior to a new product launch just as the factory workers in China do. This context is the primary information that has by and large been omitted from the reporting of the Foxconn situation, but would have been desirable all along.

Conclusion

My point-of-view is that these articles are somewhat biased in the information that they are presenting to the reader. The information that is presented may be factual -- it is difficult to corroborate some of the anecdotes and the journalists made little effort to do so. We are, as Americans, inclined to take negative reports from Chinese factories at face value, and to see those working conditions through our own cultural lens. The journalists therefore are able to maintain fairly neutral language, because they know that the material itself, when taken without any real context, is going to stir emotions. There is no need to imbue the articles with emotion, so they do not.

That does not excuse the lack of context, however. In this case, the context is very important. The reader may ultimately arrive at the same conclusions about the working conditions and about Apple but with the context the reporting would be more honest. The audience's is willing to believe the worst, so a story of a worker being killed sets a horrific tone for the story, ensuring that all other grievances noted later (some of which were minor) are colored by that initial negative tone. The audience readily forgets that workers are killed in the U.S. On the job, and some Americans work excessive hours to make ends meet as well. There is also little context provided that would help an American audience realize why workers in China are so attracted to these companies and why the conditions are not considered appalling (dorms are needed because there are housing shortages in rapidly growing cities, crowded conditions are normal in most Chinese homes, $22 a month leaves money left over to send home, etc.). So while the articles in general may have portrayed the situation with some accuracy, there was a certain degree of dishonesty in the reporting because no context was provided, other than the shrill opening to the entire series, which begins with a worker being killed, clearly setting the tone for the piece as negative in nature.

Works Cited:

BBC. (2012). Apple's Tim Cook visits Foxconn China factory. British Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved March 31, 2012 from http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-17553296

Bradsher, K. (2012). Two sides to labor in China. New York Times. Retrieved March 31, 2012 from http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/31/business/global/labor-shortage-complicates-changes-in-chinas-factories.html

Chao, L., Areddy, J. & Poon, a. (2012). Apple pact to ripple across China. Wall Street Journal. Retrieved March 31, 2012 from http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304177104577313393458215040.html

Duhigg, C. & Barboza, D. (2012). In China, human costs are built into an iPad. New York Times. Retrieved March 31, 2012 from http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/26/business/ieconomy-apples-iPad-and-the-human-costs-for-workers-in-china.html?pagewanted=all

Duhigg, C. & Greenhouse, S. (2012). Electronic giant vowing reforms in China plants. New York Times. Retrieved March 31, 2012 from http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/30/business/apple-supplier-in-china-pledges-changes-in-working-conditions.html

Greenhouse, S. (2012). Labor audit on Foxconn is thorough, experts say. New York Times. Retrieved March 31, 2012 from http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/31/business/global/experts-say-audit-of-apple-supplier-foxconn-was-thorough.html

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