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Amazon to New York Times: Get your facts straight


An executive is publicly disputing an August 2015New York Timesarticle that painted an unflattering picture of the retailer’s corporate culture.

Amazon CEO and founder Jeff Bezos blasted the article in an internal memo sent to employees shortly after it was published. However, Jay Carney, senior VP for global affairs of Amazon, is replying to the article in anew poston the blogging site Medium.

Carney leads off by revealing Bo Olson, a former Amazon employee quoted in the article as saying nearly everyone he saw cried at their desk, resigned from the company after admitting to defrauding vendors. According to Carney, the Times knew this fact but did not include it in the article.

In addition, Carney says reports of employees being anonymously criticized by coworkers through an anonymous feedback tool are false. The tool is not anonymous, and an Amazon employee quoted as saying she was “strafed” only received three pieces of feedback by named employees, who all included positive comments along with constructive suggestions for improvement.

Other specific items in the article Carney disputes include an employee who claimed he was berated in a performance review before obtaining a promotion actually receiving a positive written review and promotion. Carney also provided a quote from an employee who said in the article she once didn’t sleep for four days straight clarifying that it was her choice and related to an MBA program she was in.

Furthermore, Carney says he was promised by the Times reporters writing the story that it would be a balanced and nuanced look at Amazon’s culture. Amazon’s public editor has said the article is driven more by “generalization and anecdote” than “irrefutable proof.”

“Journalism 101 instructs that facts should be checked and sources should be vetted.,” Carney wrote. “When there are two sides of a story, a reader deserves to know them both. Why did the Times choose not to follow standard practice here? We don’t know. But it’s worth noting that they’ve now twice in less than a year been called out by their own public editor for bias and hype in their coverage of Amazon.”

TheTimeson Monday afternoon published executive editorDean Baquet’s responseto Carney’s piece on Medium, in which Baquet stands behind the reporting carried out by Jodi Kantor and David Streitfeld.

“The points in today’s posting challenge the credibility of four of the more than two dozen named current or former Amazon employees quoted in the story or cast doubt on their veracity,” the post said. ”The information for the most part, though, did not contradict what the former employees said in our story; instead, you mostly asserted that there were no records of what the workers were describing. Of course, plenty of conversations and interactions occur in workplaces that are not documented in personnel files.

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