Fun_People Archive
24 Mar
Giving Credit Where Credit Is Due - ABC

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From: Peter Langston <psl>
Date: Tue, 24 Mar 98 00:42:27 -0800
To: Fun_People
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Subject: Giving Credit Where Credit Is Due - ABC

Forwarded-by: Nev Dull <>
Subject: Excerpted: ABC exposes sweatshop abuses
From: Daniel Glasner <dglasner@SCSCOMM.COM>

                    Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting
               Media analysis, critiques and news reports

ABC's Brian Ross blows the whistle on sweatshop abuses

Part of the reason it's so frustrating to see media doing shallow coverage
of silly subjects is that we know it can be done better.  Reporters do have
a tremendous power, and when they use it to scrutinize the powerful, it can
make for compelling journalism. A segment on the March 13th edition of ABC's
20/20 is a perfect example. Correspondent Brian Ross delivered a scathing
expose of the American island of Saipan, a US commonwealth that uses
specially written labor and immigration laws to make it a haven for
sweatshops. Ross named the names of the companies profiting off the
exploitation of mostly Chinese, young female workers in Saipan--names like
Polo Sports, the Gap, and the Disney company, parent of ABC.

The story was gruesome-young women working 14 hour days, cheated out of
wages, and housed in barracks essentially in indentured servitude. A human
rights worker told Ross that women who become pregnant are forced to have
abortions or lose their jobs. All of this to make clothes that will carry
expensive price tags and a "Made in the USA" label. But Ross didn't leave
the story on a faraway island- he traced it back to Washington DC and
spotlighted Saipan's supporters in Congress, specifically Texas Republican
Tom DeLay. DeLay was shown toasting Saipan's governor at a fancy New Year's
Eve dinner and vowing to fight efforts to change the territory's immigration
and labor laws.

At one point, a former governor of Saipan, Pedro Tenorio, accuses Ross of
making things seems worse than they are to grab ratings: "You want to
sensationalize things," he said "because it sells, it sells." To which Ross
responded, "You know what? There really is no need to sensationalize
anything because the conditions speak for themselves."

It's not clear what provoked this interest on the part of ABC News in the
lives of relatively powerless working people, but we certainly hope they
can keep it up. How about including a worker's point of view even when the
story isn't sweatshops but is, say, trade agreements or the minimum wage?
We'll keep our fingers crossed. In the meantime, if you saw the segment, or
would like to encourage ABC to follow up on this kind of reporting, contact
20/20 at:


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