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I have an unusual request that I hope is not inappropriate to this forum: I'm working on a novella and there is one scene that is a turning point in the story, a cable interview/debate. I want it to be as credible as possible so I'm posting it here for your criticism. (Note: It's supposed to piss you off.) I would appreciate any suggestions for improving it, particularly making it sound more authentic. I've done my best to capture the dominant media philosophy and rhetoric but it's easy to slip into caricature. (If you are interested in critiquing the full novella, it's available free here: http://conquistador.org/document?documentEntityId=1118335323671) Here it is: Voiceover: In the Hotseat. Tom Dahl, award-winning journalist with the New York Times. His recent exposé of Central American sweatshops shook up the garment industry. And Carl Flores of Guyer Apparels, a subject of the investigation and the man behind the campaign attempting to justify garment industry practices. Putting profits before people, a pan American tragedy. Tonight, In the Hotseat. Sara Trimble: We’re back and tonight we look at the story about the story. Tom Dahl knew he was taking on Goliath when he exposed sweatshop practices in Central America but he had no idea what he would be stirring up. Carl Flores joins us to explain his industry-financed public campaign against the New York Times and Tom Dahl for their reporting. Sara: But first, I’d like to express everyone’s wishes to Carl for a speedy recovery. As we reported earlier, Carl was injured in a kidnaping attempt while recently visiting Guatemala. Carl Flores: Thank you Sara, but first I’d like to clarify… Sara: Hang on there, Carl, first we want to speak with Tom Dahl. Tom, what led you to write this story? Tom Dahl: As we all know, American companies have been exploiting the poor since, well, since the so-called founding of this country. So I decided to look into one representative industry, the garment industry of Guatemala, to help illuminate the human costs of social injustice for our readers. What I found was truly shocking. Sara: Your article detailed long working hours for very low wages, even by third world standards. Were you surprised by what you found? Tom: Not at all, Sara. This is nothing unique to Guatemala, this is happening all around the world even as we speak. Sara: And what did you hope might be the result of your reporting? Tom: Well, I had hoped, at a minimum, that those American companies involved would clean up their act if only to keep their profits flowing. I didn’t expect to find myself the target of a vengeful campaign to silence me. Sara: Has this ever happened before? Tom: Not to my knowledge, Sara. I think this was a shocking display of arrogance on the part of greedy businesses and if this is any indication of where our country is headed, we’re in big trouble. Sara: What about it, Carl? Are you concerned that your attempt at justifying your own business practices might encourage others to ignore ethical concerns? Carl: First of all, Sara, I want to thank you for giving me this opportunity to share our side of the story. And I’d like to encourage you to ask Tom how he researched his story because we found absolutely nothing to substantiate his claims at our factory in Guatemala. Sara: But what about your public campaign, don’t you think you crossed a line there in attacking the free press? Carl: Sara, don’t you think it matters whether the story that started all this is true or not? Tom: Carl, you can afford lawyers and PR consultants to protect your profits and spin your lies, but what about the poor people working in your factories who can’t afford lawyers, who can’t afford PR consultants. Who will speak up for them? Carl: Tom, you have no idea how many lives you disrupted with your irresponsible reporting. You very nearly shutdown an entire factory. Those workers need to put food on their table. Our business provides that. Your reporting almost destroyed that. Sara: But Carl, what about the public campaign? Don’t you agree that was unprecedented? Carl: Sara, the New York Times has over a million readers who rely on honest reporting. And many more beyond that follow the Times’ lead; our own local paper carried the story on the front page. We had to find a way to get the truth out to the public. And the truth is that Tom’s article bears no resemblance to the truth. Tom: I’ll have you know that the New York Times is one of the most reputable publications in the United States, in the world. Carl: Tell us, Tom, who were your sources? I’ve thoroughly documented that our manufacturers are adhering to industry standards. Tom: Carl knows very well that we can’t reveal our sources, they’d probably lose their jobs, or worse. Guyer makes a big deal out of whether or not they kept to some industry group’s code of conduct but everyone knows what a sham those standards are. Carl, what I don’t understand is why you are putting profits ahead of your own people and betraying them for a few silver coins. Carl: Tom, as hard as it may be for you to understand, my ‘people’ are my customers, my shareholders, my employees, and my business partners. Sara: Well, I’m afraid that our time is up. I want to thank Tom Dahl and Carl Flores for joining us tonight In the Hotseat. Next up, are your pets being poisoned by discount store treats?