Apple Allegedly Shuns The New York Times After Reporting On Worker Abuse In China

Apple Allegedly Shuns The New York Times After Reporting On Worker Abuse In China

Avid Apple fans will undoubtedly remember The New York Times’ series on supply chain worker abuse overseas. The Times published a piece looking at Apple’s effect on the global economy followed by a second article titled, “In China, Human Costs Are Built Into an iPad.” The probing look into worker abuse at Foxconn, Apple’s largest supply chain partner, sparked a firestorm of reactions from the media.

Since the report from the Times, Apple has made every effort to reassure the world that it is leading the industry in terms of supply chain accountability. CEO Tim Cook recently stated that Apple does more than any other company to provide fair working conditions. While that may be the case, it seems that The New York Times has now be given the cold shoulder for uncovering the issue originally.

The Washington Post claims that Apple didn’t give the Times early access to today’s OS X Mountain Lion announcement because of the Foxconn worker abuse piece’s attack on Apple’s public

Says a source at the Times: “They are playing access journalism…I’ve heard it from people inside Apple: They said, look, you guys are going to get less access based on the iEconomy series.”

The on-the-record word from the New York Times differs only slightly from the not-for-attribution word: “We’re never happy with our access to Apple. We never have been. Apple is a difficult company to report on,” says Damon Darlin, the paper’s tech editor. When asked how big a deal is the Journal’s exclusive with Cook, Darlin responds: “Talking to the CEO of one of the largest technology companies, the highest-valued company of the world? Yes, we would like to do that. They know that.”

Keep in mind that this is a source from the Times reporting to the Post with information from another unnamed source inside Apple. The bread crumb trail is long, but Erik Wemple of The Washington Post provides some good evidence to support the argument.

If you thought this morning’s Mountain Lion announcement came out of nowhere, you weren’t alone. Most of the media was left in the dark, expect for a few handpicked journalists (around 10) that got an early peek at the new operating system. Apple has never behaved this way with the press, and the whole process was best explained by John Gruber of Daring Fireball today.

The New York Times has been known for its access to Apple. Lead Times technology reporter Nick Bilton has divulged future Apple plans in the past, specifically the rumor that Apple will bring Siri to the iTV. David Pogue of the Times is also known for his relationship with Apple, and he is frequently given early access to products for review. Instead of hitting the web with all the other embargoed reviews at 8:30 AM this morning, his review of Mountain Lion went live after 1PM.

Another publication that Apple holds close to its chest is The Wall Street Journal. To no surprise, the Journal published a post on Mountain Lion this morning with exclusive quotes from Tim Cook. The Times had no such material and instead quoted directly from Apple’s press release.

Following the report on Foxconn’s terrible worker conditions, Apple has joined The Fair Labor Association and published a complete list of its supplier partners for the first time. Tim Cook has spoken out multiple times on the issue, recently saying that “Apple takes working conditions very seriously, and we have for a very long time.”

Very seriously, indeed.

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  • sn0wball

    good 4 Apple. id do the same or even worse if someone talked shit about me or my company. lets see how fast the NY Times make a peice about how great Apple is and all that they’re doing for workers.

  • imajoebob

    It’s not that The Times was critical of Apple, it ‘s that they were inaccurate/incomplete in their reporting.  Apple, justifiably, is sending the message that if you can’t be trusted to write accurate stories, they won’t help you sell your papers.

  • 300AShareMakesMeSmile

    The Times was going on a “witch hunt” to grab eyeballs because of the name of Apple.  I hope they have to print some sort of retraction on the front page after learning the truth.

    Human costs are built into almost any product ever made in any factory in the world because it’s usually the employees who are the most expendable component.

  • Lee Penick

    Why let bad reporting benefit.  Good job Apple.  How many millions of people wish they had those manufacturing jobs.  

  • Paulakero

    why does the NYT want to ge invited? They can just make things up out of thin air and weave fantasies like their foxconn piece
    (the Fair Labour Association prelim report just out paints a complete different picture from NYT. FLA “The facilities are first-class; the physical conditions are way, way above average of the norm” )

    and your statement “Following the report on Foxconn’s terrible worker conditions, Apple has joined The Fair Labor Association and published a complete list of its supplier partners for the first time” is Wrong. Apple published their list of suppliers and announced they joined FLA way before the NYT article and I think the process to be accepted by FLA also took a long time before that.

  • STRIPBLUNTS

    This is a dumb article! Why are you surprised that Apple doesn’t reward bad behaviour. The ‘Times’ wrote a lopsided article that only mentioned Apple as a “serious” offender of human rights in Chinese factories which is completely untrue! They didn’t mention that every other manufacturer of mobile & consumer technology makes their devices at Foxconn too, while Apple does more for worker safety than all of them put together. I wouldn’t be surprised if Apple left them out of the first peeks at iPad 3, iPhone 5, MacBook Pro & whatever TV project they’re working on. I bet they didn’t even think about those events when they when their “link-baiting” witch-hunt. Apple just demoted the Times’ to a “reader” now, for being stupid!

  • prof_peabody

    Justice is always nice to see :)  so rare nowadays.  

  • Figurative

    Great news!  Why reward yellow journalism?  The NYT is a failing POS and deserves to be called out.

  • Len Williams

    Talking trash about Apple isn’t new. For many years the media loved to write that Apple was “beleaguered” and doomed to die imminently. Now that Apple is the biggest tech company in the world, it’s about how bad it is by abusing workers in China. It’s always been “in” for the news media and pundits to kick Apple. The problem is that for Chinese workers, Foxconn is one of the best companies there is! It’s a whole different universe over there. Workers are treated like expendable dirt, paid little and expected to work horrendous hours–and even with these horrible conditions, they have millions of people waiting to be hired. Why is this? Working for tech companies is one of the BETTER jobs in China. Think of the Industrial Revolution in England from 1750 to 1850. Labor laws that protected workers were nonexistent. Child labor was rampant. Working conditions were dangerous and even deadly. That’s about the stage in labor China is still in. Apple has no authority to change conditions in China. They can only attempt to educate and/or threaten to take their business away. The NY Times and other reporters seem to think that Apple can waltz right into China and clear up the centuries-old problems of cheap labor and human rights violations. Apple was researching putting a factory in Brazil. Maybe they can leave Foxconn behind eventually, but even that won’t change Foxconn’s policies regarding their workers, or the Chinese government’s lack of effectiveness at protecting workers’ rights.

    Something I find interesting: China is a communist country. Communism is supposed to create a “workers’ paradise” according to Marx and Engel. Seems it didn’t quite work out that way.

  • CamilloMiller

    Your wanted to be ironic. Unfortunately it’sad but true: millions of people in China would like a job like that, being their current working condition far worse than that.

  • CamilloMiller

    Here’s the journos playing their “I HAVE THE RIGHT TO GET INVITED!!!!” gig. No, you don’t have it. Your duty is to report on a company. If that company doesn’t wants you to get access, well, it may sound mean, but it’s they’re choice to do so. They’re using their tremendous PR power as always and they’re masters at using it to ben good press towards them. Now tell me it’s not a PR division and PR power every company would like to have. 

  • KeirThomas

    You’ll also notice that the BBC News aren’t covering this (yet), which indicates Rory Cellan-Jones has also been shunned by Apple. The biggest and most respected news agency in the world?

    Only Apple could and would play these kind of games with the press. From a business perspective it’s bizarre.

  • Honey Badger

    I think that Apple was always doing more in this regard than most companies. Taking the supplier oversight and accountability to the next level is better yet and a good thing.

    Perspective is what has been lacking on the entire issue. Were there suicides at Foxconn? Yes. Is that sad? Yes. However, the suicide rate throughout the rest of China is very high compared with the rest of the world. It’s a country-wide issue, not solely a Foxconn/Apple problem as the media likes to portray. 

    The working conditions at Foxconn for example, are much better than other factories in China. The wages are also much higher. Chinese people line up to get jobs at Foxconn for that very reason – they provide some of the best jobs in the country.

    Many workers will be interviewed. Some will have axes to grind, and that will get the spotlight by the media looking to make a splash and get attention. Heck you can interview ANY company’s employes and find workers who are unhappy with one thing or another. This will be no different, but watch the media jump all over the ones who say anything remotely negative.

    I’m totally fine that this topic is getting some attention, but let’s keep things in perspective, report the truth and not slant the facts one way or the other, just to make a story. 

  • PiMatrix

    This is a fabricated FUD story based based upon hearsay. David Pogue of NYT just as usual had access for over a week to Moutain Lion. However I am losing more respect for NYT each passing day.

    David Pogue shared a link.
    18 hours ago
    I’ve been running Mac OS X Mountain Lion for a week. What’s it like? Here’s my preview… nyti.ms/AjljAG
    Apple’s Mountain Lion Makes the Mac More Like the iPad
    pogue.blogs.nytimes.com
    Apple’s Mountain Lion operating system software for the Mac brings even more of the iPhone/iPad features to the Mac. The juiciest payoff here is the suite of Mac apps that now mimic what’s on the iPhone/iPad. Through your free iCloud account, all of these apps are synced instantly and smoothly acros…

  • PiMatrix

    This is a fabricated FUD story based based upon hearsay. David Pogue of NYT just as usual had access for over a week to Moutain Lion. However I am losing more respect for NYT each passing day.

    David Pogue shared a link.
    18 hours ago
    I’ve been running Mac OS X Mountain Lion for a week. What’s it like? Here’s my preview… nyti.ms/AjljAG
    Apple’s Mountain Lion Makes the Mac More Like the iPad
    pogue.blogs.nytimes.com
    Apple’s Mountain Lion operating system software for the Mac brings even more of the iPhone/iPad features to the Mac. The juiciest payoff here is the suite of Mac apps that now mimic what’s on the iPhone/iPad. Through your free iCloud account, all of these apps are synced instantly and smoothly acros…

  • Honey Badger

    Some of the media have not been honest with their reporting. THAT is what Apple has the problem with. If they reported honestly, there wouldn’t be much of story, so they twist the facts to make it juicy.

  • PiMatrix

    This is a fabricated FUD story based based upon hearsay. David Pogue of NYT just as usual had access for over a week to Moutain Lion. However I am losing more respect for NYT each passing day.

    David Pogue shared a link.
    18 hours ago
    I’ve been running Mac OS X Mountain Lion for a week. What’s it like? Here’s my preview… nyti.ms/AjljAG
    Apple’s Mountain Lion Makes the Mac More Like the iPad
    pogue.blogs.nytimes.com
    Apple’s Mountain Lion operating system software for the Mac brings even more of the iPhone/iPad features to the Mac. The juiciest payoff here is the suite of Mac apps that now mimic what’s on the iPhone/iPad. Through your free iCloud account, all of these apps are synced instantly and smoothly acros…

  • Jan Van der Haegen


    From a business perspective it’s bizarre. ” 
    Really? Everyone (including yourself) is talking about this subject, any publicity is good publicity…

  • McRCN

    Just like the NYT to do a hit job on Apple and then complain they do not get an exclusive from them a week later.  

  • Aj Tk427

    Agreed, Apple has no obligation to tell the newspapers, “Oh hey guys, new version of the OS is out, come on over for a sneak peek, mill around our company and stuff”

    Bullshit, this is not a company run by taxpayers.

  • Cesar Florez

    Good for apple. Im behind apple on this strategy. The Times publishes anything they want and anything they see that is in their best interest. Next time you write about the biggest tech company in the world remember that it all wont always be good. decide whether to stand by apple positively or negatively morons. When Tim Cook says that worker abuse in china is controlled and more improved than ever; just believe it and don’t write about things that will oppose his efforts.

  • Louie Gluefish

    I love Apple.  and I have loved Apple since the Apple 2+ days.
    That said, once an underdog finally becomes champion, he’s the one everyone wants to beat.  Corporations are inherently evil, and supremely evil when they become the largest.  
    Still, I love Apple, and have hated it ever since the Apple 2+ days.  Working at Apple was the best and worst time of my life in engineering.

  • Nathan Nguyen

    Man, all you Apple fan boys have your noses so far up Apple’s bee hole, you guys can see straight anymore.  Granted, Apple makes great products, hell I own 3 of them, but c’mon.  Have some perspective.  You guys making it sound like Apple can do no wrong.  I’m sure the New York Times report has some inaccuracies but the core of the article is that Foxconn mistreats it’s employees and Apple turns a blind eye because of the 350+ dollars profit it makes from selling one iPad.  Is it too much to ask to pay the people alittle more and demand better working conditions for the people who make those things?  Put yourself in their shoes…  =(

  • Hayeso

    That’s right, publish a story we (Apple) don’t like even if it’s true and we’ll cut you off. Very mature. If Microsoft did this everyone bar the fanboys would be up in arms, and the MS fan people would do exactly what you are doing now, defending something just because ‘apple’ claims this is the right story ‘I.e. the one Apple want you to believe.’. I want to believe Apple, but having been to China, i think there is merit in their story. This isn’t a new story and it doesn’t look like conditions are getting vastly better over there.
    You can appease your own guilt (if any) about cheap devices that you like, which are manufactured under 19th century conditions by complaining about anyone who points it out, and challenging the or corporate tale.
    Apple is not Mother Theresa.

  • Brittp2

    I guess you don’t know the business payment plan… Apple pays Foxconn for a product and then way down the line the worker gets paid by, drum roll………. Foxconn. They are not Apple employees, get it? The US government taxes people and then appropriates money for their employees and the US government determines the pay scale…. got it? How do you get paid, if you get paid by the end user of what ever you may produce, then you are self employed like me for the past 35 years. But if you get big there is no direct payment for any work done. And that 350 profit you talk about??? labor, packaging, shipping, or and the no cost R&D which has no value to you I guess. I am sure I am leaving out a bunch of things that would be in what you call 350 profit but I gotta go now. BFF yours, 

  • Brittp2

    19th Century conditions????? What!!!!! Haven’t you seen pictures of the assembly line in Foxconn??? Even the dorms are respectable. Have you seen the lithographs of Dickens working conditions????? The work is hard and long, but 19th Century???? You need a history lesson.

  • bartroberts

    Tim Cook and all the other greedy managers at Apple are Slave Drivers!!!

    iSlaveDrivers

    http://www.zazzle.com/islave_d

  • stephenl123

    Pure FUD.  This speculative article is entirely false.  All that happened is that the NYT took 5 hours longer than some other sources in releasing their article.  Their writer had inside access at Apple for a week before the announcement.  This entire thing is a speculation about Apple’s motives for an action that never happened.

  • stephenl123

    Also of note: Foxconn’s suicide rate is 20 times lower than the Chinese national average and is lower than the US average;  Foxconn’s industrial accident fatality rate is 7 times lower than the US average;  Foxconn’s average wage in China is 35% higher than the average for factory work in China.

    I wonder if the suicide and industrial accident rates are higher or lower in the New York Times supply chain than they are in Apple’s?  After all, paper is a dirty business.  But we’ll never know because, although Apple audits their supply chain and publishes the results and requires third party audits, the New York Times does not.

  • Robert Tristram

    Meaningless numbers without a link to the source.
    Foxconn isn’t necessarily the issue if you have read the article in the NY Times and other papers. Foxconn get other companies to produce parts – effectively sub-contracting work out. These companies are screwed down such that they have to cut costs wherever possible, leading to dangerous working environments. These companies may not be looked at by the FLA, so Apple (who are paying for the FLA to conduct their checks) will be able to say Foxconn are wonderful.
    I wonder how those injured at Foxconn plats feel about this?

  • stephenl123

    OK, so tell us the suicide rate at the New York Times and their suppliers?  Tell us the industrial accident rates at their paper suppliers?  Where are the links to back up your position?

    Apparently the Foxconn suicide rate is 8 times lower than the average rate for Japan.  Japan is relevant because the statistics are considered more reliable and transparent than the statistics for China.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/S

    The Foxconn rate is 3 per 100,000.

About the author

Alex HeathAlex Heath is a staff writer at Cult of Mac and co-host of the CultCast. He has been quoted by the likes of the BBC, KRON 4 News, and books like "ICONIC: A Photographic Tribute to Apple Innovation." If you want to pitch a story, share a tip, or just get in touch, additional contact information is available on his personal site. Twitter always works too.

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