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The Price of Nice Nails - New York Time on the exploitation of nail salon employees

Discussion in 'Sports and News' started by YankeeFan, May 7, 2015.

  1. YankeeFan

    YankeeFan Well-Known Member

    Incredible job by the Times of investigating the industry:

    The women begin to arrive just before 8 a.m., every day and without fail, until there are thickets of young Asian and Hispanic women on nearly every street corner along the main roads of Flushing, Queens.

    As if on cue, cavalcades of battered Ford Econoline vans grumble to the curbs, and the women jump in. It is the start of another workday for legions of New York City’s manicurists, who are hurtled to nail salons across three states. They will not return until late at night, after working 10- to 12-hour shifts, hunched over fingers and toes.

    On a morning last May, Jing Ren, a 20-year-old who had recently arrived from China, stood among them for the first time, headed to a job at a salon in a Long Island strip mall. Her hair neat and glasses perpetually askew, she clutched her lunch and a packet of nail tools that manicurists must bring from job to job.

    Tucked in her pocket was $100 in carefully folded bills for another expense: the fee the salon owner charges each new employee for her job. The deal was the same as it is for beginning manicurists in almost any salon in the New York area. She would work for no wages, subsisting on meager tips, until her boss decided she was skillful enough to merit a wage.

    It would take nearly three months before her boss paid her. Thirty dollars a day.

  2. JackReacher

    JackReacher Well-Known Member

    Carrie Heffernan is banned from all those places.
    YankeeFan likes this.
  3. Inky_Wretch

    Inky_Wretch Well-Known Member

    I wonder if it's like that at nail salons across the country? Even here below the Mason-Dixon, it seems like most are filled with Asian employees.
  4. Vombatus

    Vombatus Well-Known Member

    Riptide likes this.
  5. Baron Scicluna

    Baron Scicluna Well-Known Member

    YankeeFan likes this.
  6. LongTimeListener

    LongTimeListener Well-Known Member

  7. YankeeFan

    YankeeFan Well-Known Member

    Reason takes issue with the Times article:

    A two-part series in The New York Times on nail salons has brought sweeping changes to an industry dominated by Korean and Chinese immigrants. Written by reporter Sarah Maslin Nir, the series, which ran in print on May 10 and 11, focused on the plight of nail salon manicurists in New York City and Long Island. It depicted a community of immigrant workers paid shockingly low wages to beautify the fingers and toes of affluent New Yorkers while inhaling toxic fumes that cause miscarriages and cancer.

    Nir, who spent 13 months on the project, said in an interview that she initially pitched the story as an "expose," adding that the "great lesson" readers should come away with is that there's "no such thing as a cheap luxury." The only way "you can have something decadent for a cheap price is by someone being exploited." (My Reason colleague, Elizabeth Nolan Brown, wrote a critique of Nir's series shortly after it was published.)

    The "great lesson" here is actually something different. I've spent the last several weeks re-reporting aspects of Nir's story and interviewing her sources. Not only did Nir's coverage broadly mischaracterize the nail salon industry, several of the men and women she spoke with say she misquoted or misrepresented them. In some cases, she interviewed sources without translators despite their poor English skills. When her sources' testimonies ran counter to her narrative, she omitted them altogether.

    The second article lent the Times' imprimatur to unproven theories, while committing science journalism's cardinal sin of highlighting alarmist anecdotes that aren't representative of systematic research.

    The New York Times’ Nail Salons Series Was Filled with Misquotes and Factual Errors. Here’s Why That Matters.
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