Since Mike Daisey's lies tarnished any perception we have of life on Apple's infamous Chinese factory line, Marketplace's Rob Schmitz has gone in to re-report and re-shape the image of the place where our iStuff gets made. Schmitz's findings will appear in an American Public Media series called "The People Behind Your iPad," which started last week with some teaser interviews and posts and continued into this week with fuller reports. From Daisey's tales, which he made up based on stuff he'd read in the news or heard, Foxconn with its high suicide rate, mangled limbs and insanely long workdays, seemed like a horrific place of work. Once Daisey's stories came out as at least parly false, however, even the truths he revealed became suspect. Schimtz, who outed Daisey a few weeks ago, has gone in to reset the record. And, as expected, the image that emerges of the iFactory isn't the most horrible place to work ever, of all time. Then again, Foxconn's still a Chinese factory that underpays its massive workforce for hours of mind-numbing work.
Foxconn's facilities have lots of amenities, something we already knew a bit about from Nightline's Bill Weir, the other American reporter to gain access to Apple's production line. Upon first walking, in Schmitz is more impressed by all the stuff, which he later compares to an American college campus, than anything else, from a report last week:
There’s a main drag lined on both sides with fast-food restaurants, banks, cafes, grocery stores, a wedding photo shop, and an automated library. There are basketball courts, tennis courts, a gym, two enormous swimming pools, and a bright green astroturf soccer stadium smack-dab in the middle of campus. There’s a radio station -- Voice of Foxconn -- and a television news station. Longhua even has its own fire department, located right on main street.
And though he does make note of all the suicide nets, an unpleasant reminder of what the work has driven some employees to do, he gives a more positive impression than Daisey had, quoting his guide Louis Woo, explaining that these nets save lives. "I look up at them and think of the people who jumped. I tell Louis how depressing they look, just suspended up there, waiting to catch someone," writes Schmitz. “I don’t care how they look,” Woo responds. "If we can save one life with these nets, they’re completely worth it."