Awhile back I reblogged a piece from one of my favorite bloggers, Matt Eilar, and he has now posted an update that I hope you read as well. The original piece highlighted a story done by Mike Daisey on “This American Life” and involved a supposed expose’ of Apple and Foxconn with their working conditions in Shenzhen, China. Daisey’s story has now been debunked and retracted. And I make no apologies for why I believed it. I read many newspapers not the least of which are the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, and both have done stories on Foxconn and Shenzhen. So they were not unknown to me. But China is immense and still relatively unknown, and of intense interest to those who tend to read business publications or the business pages of a newspaper. Yes, I’m sure it’s of interest to some others, but I doubt few knew the names Foxconn and Shenzhen until Mike Daisey decided to tell a story.
His story is unfortunate in the sense that it’s not reliable, and now Daisey is probably history because of it. How it will affect “This American Life” remains to be seen. But the incident is fortunate in the respect that until a few weeks ago, most people did not know squat about Foxconn or Shenzhen or even thought much about China. Daisey’s story has more than likely changed that. A “real life” friend of mine who had listened to Daisey because of my talk about it is curious about the real story of the labor issue. My instincts tell me she is far from alone. Such is the power of a story to go where no dry news piece ever could — into the imagination and perhaps ultimately into the heart.