Corporate Reputation and the News Media in China
In the summer of 2006, the UK Mail on Sunday carried a report entitled “iPod City,” disclosing that laborers in some Chinese iPod factories owned by Foxconn (⢓) work long hours for low pay and live in “slave” conditions. Shortly after this, another report appeared in China Business News (CBN), further disclosing the poor working and living conditions of Foxconn’s workers. Foxconn, which had kept its distance from the media before, immediately announced that it would sue two journalists from CBN for “damaging its reputation,” demanding a compensation of RMB30 million, an amount many times more than a journalist could make in a lifetime in China. Later, under fi re from Chinese academics, as well as from the Chinese and foreign press, for attacking freedom of the press, and under pressure from its contractor, Apple, Foxconn withdrew the charges and reached a compromise with CBN. Foxconn’s reputation, however, was severely affected by the crisis. Foxconn attempted to improve its reputation through a series of image-promoting activities in the Chinese media, but the results were negligible.