Apple & Foxconn take a radio reporter on an iPad factory tour

April 8, 2012, 12:13 PM UTC

The re-burnishing of Apple’s corporate image continues

Photo: Rob Schmitz/Marketplace

Rob Schmitz gets his reward this week.

The China correspondent for American Public Media’s Marketplace — whose reporting exposed the lies in Mike Daisey’s
The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs
and who joined Ira Glass last month in Daisey’s public humiliation on This American Life — was given an exclusive tour inside an iPad factory, courtesy of Foxconn and Apple (AAPL) public relations.

He’s the first public media reporter — and only the second journalist after ABC’s Bill Weir — to gain access to a Foxconn factory floor.

Schmitz’ radio reports can be heard starting Monday, April 9, on your local public radio station (or on Marketplace’s special page on the Apple Economy.)

Meanwhile, Schmitz has been writing about the tour on his reporter’s notebook blog, and Marketplace has posted a couple of teasers: A 3:30-minute radio interview and a 20-second YouTube clip of iPads with their innards exposed. (see below)

Apple will be pleased that Schmitz describes Foxconn’s factory city as having the feel of a college campus — with “dorm buildings and basketball courts and swimming pools and things like that” — and that he contradicts a New York Times correspondent’s claim that workers spend spend long hours each day either standing or perched uncomfortably on stools. At this factory, at least, everybody sits on stools that have backs.

But Schmitz also airs some of the workers many complaints — that the work of assembling iPads by hand is repetitive and mind-numbing, that favoritism among the supervisors is rampant, that they have been forced to work when they are sick, that they’re sometimes not allowed to bill for overtime.

Most damning: That the raises they were promised in March — and which were widely publicized in U.S. media — still haven’t been paid.

Below: Schmitz’ YouTube video.