In the article “The Price of Nice Nails” by Sarah Maslin Nir the story of life as a nail technician in New York is brought to light. The New York Times interviews 150 manicurists and salon owners in 4 different languages to understand and educate people on the unethical practices of the nail salon industry. The article cited statistics from the New York State Department’s Enforcement Records, a 2014 survey from Nails Magazine, and a Korean American Nail Salon Association. They also spoke with Nicole Hallett a lecturer at Yale Law School who worked on wage theft cases in salons. All of the statements from their sources, including the salon owners, were logically consistent in proving that wage theft is a real issue. Although the majority of the salon owners would not directly say, they were breaking the law they did have one owner crack and admit it does happen. The boss of one of the salon workers interviewed, “at first denied doing anything wrong, but then said it was just how business was done. “Salons have different ways of conducting their business,” he said. “We run our business our own way to keep our small business surviving” (Nir). This concession in addition to the other interviews and statistics presented seemed to prove the argument the article was trying to make.
The fact that this was an article from the New York Times and focused on a problem throughout New York furthers the legitimacy of the report as well. The author has also done investigative journalism covering the boroughs which are a specific focus throughout. Despite the author and publisher being physically close to the situation, there is not a particular reason they would have a bias on this issue. They have no real connection to the industry, and they don’t receive funding from the companies mentioned.
Although Nir doesn’t have training in the field of nail salon wage theft, she cites many people who are both directly affected by it and educated in that aspect of the law. Nicole Hallett is an expert in the field of wage theft law providing expertise on the ethicality of the owners. The Korean American Nail Salon Association is biased in that they focus on trying to help better the lives of nail technicians, but Nir cites them for statistics regarding ethnic hierarchy and what percentage of salons are Korean owned (80 percent) so that bias isn’t an issue. Nails magazine surveyed salon workers on hourly wages. They are an unbiased source because they are focused more on nails as an art form and not the ethics of salons, also making them a less reliable source. The New York State Departments Enforcement Records are a reliable source for past investigations into salons, proving there is an issue. The only thing this article is missing is more in-depth answers from salon owners, more recent investigation records, and quotes from those who conducted the investigations. Nir did reach out for quotes from the investigators but did not receive a response. Those three things would help solidify the legitimacy of the article for the reader.
The article uses personal stories and photos to hold the reader’s attention and garner sympathy for those they mention. This technique very much changed how I felt reading this piece. Although it is long and at some places less engaging the pictures help you understand the genuine struggle nail technicians go through. The touches of personal stories also keep you connected and on the side of those struggling.
In Conclusion, I believe this article is a trustworthy source. There is information provided for both sides of the issue which have equal weight. The New York Times is well versed in the area the problem is prevalent and has access to people within it. The article does it’s best to be purely investigative and less bias, and I think it succeeds. So all-in-all I would say “The Price of Nice Nails” by Sarah Maslin Nir is both SMELL and PIE test approved.