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 image:
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.