Shame on Wired Magazine

I don’t know how you feel about it but I’m annoyed that Wired rag, pulp fiction tabloid, fish wrap, magazine finds it to be oh so very tongue in cheek and cutesy-like to refer to sewing factories generically as sweat shops. Just see the title of this article: Clothes Will Sew Themselves in Darpa’s Sweat-Free Sweatshops*. Really. I emailed the hack “journalist” who wrote it (Katie Drummond, email1 email2) and asked how she’d like it if journalists were routinely called “hacks”.  So yeah, our labor crisis grows in part due to irresponsible writing and editing like this. Who wants to get into the business when much hipper than thou hacks journalists so blithely insult one’s occupation? I told her:

People who work or have worked in factories may resent your sweat-shop comments because they wouldn’t work at a place like that anymore than you would and if you intimate that they have, that’s an underhanded way of saying you’re better than they are. Some of us deeply admire our former factory employers

Talk about insult to injury. I hope you’ll comment, write the hack journalist and or editorial staff to make your discomfort known. Before you run off tho, Katie closes with this witty gem:

Of course, it could also mean the decimation of jobs worldwide, as well as dubiously constructed garments. But we’ll let our fellow Conde Nast publication Vogue worry about that last part.

*If Katie Drummond, the hack journalist had done any intellectual heavy lifting, she’d know this story was nothing but a rehash of stuff from 2006. From a survey of her coverage, I glean she covers all things military. In my opinion, the military deserves a more thoughtful and respectful spokesperson.

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  1. Renee T says:

    Having made visits to numerous factories in Asian countries, none of which would be correctly described as a sweatshop, I’m with you. My husband sent me this link a few hours before I saw your post:

    The subheadline? “Sweatshops filled with robots could bring manufacturing of smartphones, computers and TVs to the United States, as well.”

    Yes, I’m offended. You can bet money that these writers, and perhaps also whoever wrote whatever press release they started with, have never been inside of a sewn goods factory.

  2. Sabine says:

    If the paper news industry is in the States anything like the one in Austria, then we are better off then them. Unless someone is high up, it generally is:
    60-80 hour weeks
    about $1500 a month
    no PAID overtime
    unregulated working hours
    no work uniform provided
    Most of the equipment not provided
    always on call
    no job security-it’s a shark world out there
    self employed risks with employed rules to adhere to

    as a sewer in Austria:
    shift work, but regulated 40 hours a week
    paid overtime
    uniform provided if special work attire is needed

    so, all in all, I would never trade with a journalist

  3. Emily says:

    My company manufactures here in Vienna, VA and it is truly repulsive to call our factory a sweat-shop, even facetiously. All our employees are granted the same labor privileges as workers anywhere – we have a bright and lovely factory with ergonomic sewing chairs, they make over minimum wage + overtime, have all national holidays off, access to health care insurance and participation in a profit sharing account. Just because they are immigrants does not mean they are slaves.

    My last job, at a company in Philadelphia also manufactured on-site and it was the same situation, only smaller.

    In the meantime, we are searching high and low for a capable production manager and guess what? they are impossible to find! Who wants to work at a job where you are considered no more than a slave owner by the rest of the world? So sad!

  4. Kate R says:

    I used to be a journalist and I hated it for many reasons, including lack of creativity (it’s all writing by numbers) and the entire focus being on gaining advertisers and their cash. Now I sew in a lovely workroom, earn not much less, and am about a million times happier. And, like Sabine, I now have union-regulated hours and paid overtime. I also work for a company that puts quality first and feel like I’m creating a worthwhile product, not just churning out rubbish.

  5. Kate R says:

    Also, “The report laments that nearly all industrial sewing relies, archaically, on human hands” – this sentence is particularly irritating. Archaically? Just like, ooh, everything from brain surgery to refuse collection to hairdressing to food preparation to professional golf to…etc etc. LAMENTABLE!

  6. Paul says:

    Following the link in the article to the website for this project, it says this will move sewing from a labor intensive to a capital intensive industry. Just what we need, more shifting of opportunity from those of us who are willing to exert our labor when we lack capital to those who just need to deploy their capital.

    But I can take some comfort in the fact that most of my potential future employees don’t make up a large part of Wired’s readership. Which also includes me.

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