Amazon puts its feud with the New York Times, and its workplace culture, back in the spotlight

More than two months after the New York Times published a highly critical article on the workplace conditions and culture of Amazon, the feud between the two companies has been reignited.


The original NY Times piece was the product of a six-month investigation from two journalists and exposed “bruising” conditions Amazon employees are required to work under.


Now senior vice president for global corporate affairs at Amazon Jay Carney has brought the story back into the news by questioning the credibility of the article in a post on Medium.


“Even with breaking news, journalistic standards would encourage working hard to uncover any bias in a key source,” Carney writes.


“With six months to work on the story, journalistic standards absolutely require it.


“Why did the Times choose not to follow standard practices here?”


Carney’s argument centres on the credibility of four of the named sources in the NY Times piece. His rebuttal includes some personal details about their employment history and performance evaluations, an interesting move from a company that is trying to encourage its employees to raise concerns with their superiors and shed its reputation of being a bad place to work.


New York Times executive editor Dean Baquet quickly wrote a Medium piece in reply, reiterating his full support for the original piece and pointing to “more than a hundred” sources that were interviewed for it.


“This story was based on dozens of interviews,” Baquet writes.


“Any reading of these responses leaves no doubt that this was an accurate portrait.”


Not to be outdone, Carney took to Medium again to post a reply to the reply, calling the newspaper’s journalistic integrity into question.


“The bottom line is the New York Times chose not to fact-check or vet its most important on-the-record sources, despite working on the story for six months,” he writes.


“I really don’t see a feasible explanation for that failure.”


Neither of Carney’s responses addresses the myriad of other issues raised in the NY Times piece, including the treatment of seriously ill employees and a lack of maternity leave.


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Denham Sadler is the editor of StartupSmart. He was previously a journalist at the publication and has worked as a freelancer for the Guardian, the Saturday Paper and the ABC. In his spare time he likes puns and jaffles.