Two great pieces of journalism on Apple and its place in the manufacturing economy appeared recently: First, there's a series developing in The New York Times that kicked off in the Sunday edition: "How the U.S. Lost Out on iPhone Work." A follow-on piece, "In China, Human Costs Are Built Into an iPad," ran yesterday.
You must read these stories.
Second, listen to the This American Life episode "Mr. Daisey and the Apple Factory." In this gripping program, monologuist Mike Daisey tells of his trip to the Foxconn plant in China, where iPhones are made.
You must also listen to this podcast.
After you've done your homework, you will have questions--about Apple and all other electronics companies, about your ethical responsibility when it comes to buying gadgets, and about America's place in the world economy and whether it will ever be possible to bring modern manufacturing jobs back home.
On Reporters' Roundtable tomorrow at 10 a.m. Pacific Time (live link), we'll be talking with Charles Duhigg, one of the authors of the New York Times series, and Mike Daisey as well. I'm excited to get these two together to discuss the ongoing issues that they have reported on. I'm sure this is going to be a fascinating discussion.
Send your questions for Duhigg and Daisey to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or drop a note in the comments below.
Editor's note, March 19, 2012: "This American Life" announced late last week that it's retracting a story it did recently about working conditions at Foxconn that included an interview with Mike Daisey as well as an excerpt from his monologue "The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs." It said it was doing so because of "numerous fabrications" it found. CNET's Josh Lowensohn has the details in this story. Daisey's own statement is on his Web site. A recent investigative report by The New York Times looked at working conditions in Apple's supply chain in China.