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Apple, Foxconn report retracted by ‘This American Life’

First Published Mar 16 2012 01:51 pm • Last Updated Mar 16 2012 03:55 pm

A report on conditions of Chinese workers who construct Apple Inc. products has been retracted by the radio program "This American Life," which said the broadcast contained "errors."

"We’re retracting that story because we can’t vouch for its truth, and this weekend’s episode of our show will detail the errors in the story," Ira Glass, host and executive producer of "This American Life," wrote in a statement.

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The broadcast focused on working conditions at Foxconn Technology Group, which manufactures products for Apple and other electronics makers. Apple has begun subjecting factories of its suppliers to audits by an independent labor group following employee suicides and injuries and criticism from China Labor Watch, which cited instances of harmful conditions.

Glass said the errors came from an excerpt from "The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs," a production by monologist Mike Daisey that was included in the broadcast.

Daisey responded to the retraction in a personal blog, saying, "I stand by my work."

‘"This American Life’ is essentially a journalistic — not a theatrical — enterprise, and as such it operates under a different set of rules and expectations," Daisey wrote. "For this reason, I regret that I allowed ‘This American Life’ to air an excerpt from my monologue. What I do is not journalism."

He didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Emily Condon, a spokeswoman for "This American Life," said the company plans to post a transcript of a show that elaborates on the retraction. "This American Life" is produced by Chicago Public Media and distributed by Public Radio International.

Steve Dowling, a spokesman for Cupertino, Calif.-based Apple, declined to comment.

New York-based China Labor Watch has said that workers making Apple products log 11 hours of work a day, six days a week, while production speeds are so high that workers aren’t able to rest while making iPads.


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Apple released a list of suppliers for the first time in January and publishes an annual report detailing instances of labor and environmental violations by some manufacturers.

Foxconn employs more than 1.2 million people in over 18 countries, chairman and founder Terry Gou said Dec. 1. The company has operations in Taiwan, Brazil, Mexico, Slovakia and Vietnam in addition to its China factories.



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