August 18, 2015

The New York Times

Since The New York Times published its searing indictment of Amazon’s workplace culture over the weekend, multiple publications have dissected the 5,000-word in-depth and offered critiques. And no wonder: In interviews with more than 100 current and former employees, The Times assembled a portrait of an innovative company that is driven to succeed at all costs, sometimes at the expense of employee well-being.

The piece drew strong pushback from Amazon executive Jay Carney and founder Jeff Bezos, who each quibbled with The Times’ characterization of the company but did not publicly dispute any of the facts in the report. Nick Ciubotariu, an Amazon employee, wrote a lengthy response to the article that accused The Times of seeking anecdotal evidence to support a pre-existing bias against the retail giant.

Ciubotariu got in touch with New York Times Public Editor Margaret Sullivan, who this afternoon published a column that responded to criticism of The Times’ article. Her verdict? The story, which relied largely on anecdotal evidence, could have used more data.

But does the article, with complete fairness, nail down the reality of life as an Amazon employee? No serious questions (to my knowledge) have arisen about the hard facts. That’s to The Times’s credit. But that may partly be because the article was driven less by irrefutable proof than by generalization and anecdote. For such a damning result, presented with so much drama, that doesn’t seem like quite enough.

As of Tuesday afternoon, the only correction appended to The Times’ story is a trivial one regarding which Silicon Valley tech companies have established a foothold in Seattle.

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Benjamin Mullin is the managing editor of He previously reported for Poynter as a staff writer, Google Journalism Fellow and Naughton Fellow, covering journalism…
Benjamin Mullin

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