A couple of months ago, the wildly popular public radio program “This American Life” aired a show that detailed the work of a performer named Mike Daisey. Daisey had been performing a one-man show in theaters called “The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs,” which detailed his obsession with Apple products and concerns over the way in which those products get made.
A large portion of the show consists of Daisey recounting a trip he took to China, to the Foxconn factories where iPads and iPhones are built. He details meetings he had with workers who had been injured or maimed while putting together the expensive electronics for Western buyers, and highlights his encounters with underage workers at the plant, some as young as 12 or 13.
It was powerful stuff. Moving. It not only became the most popular broadcast in the history of “This American Life,” but it spurred the technology industry and journalists to action. At around the same time the radio segment aired, the New York Times separately ran a lengthy and scathing piece on Apple’s labor practices that seemed to corroborate Daisey’s story.