Media

The Washington Post Goes Silent on Amazon.com Labor Abuses After Its Owner Buys Them Out

The Post is strikingly missing from a major debate about one of America's most prominent companies.

The Amazon logo is projected onto a screen at a press conference on September 6, 2012 in Santa Monica, California

In August, the New York Times published an in-depth profile of what it's like to work for Amazon.com's corporate offices. The article described an abusive environment in which employees cried at their desks and were sometimes forced to work 85-hour weeks. One woman who was diagnosed with breast cancer was threatened with termination because of the way the disease was impacting her work. Another who had miscarried twins was sent on a business trip the day after she returned from surgery.

These practices touched off increasing scrutiny of the online retail giant's workplace culture; Amazon.com chief executive Jeff Bezos sent a memorandum to his employees saying the reporting did not reflect Amazon's actual workplace practices. Still, there were no reported reforms within the company.

While a war of words has emerged between the NYT and Amazon (former Obama press secretary Jay Carney now works for Amazon and is now working to undermine the NYT story), one outlet that has been sitting this one out is the Washington Post. (The Post was bought by Bezos at the end of 2013.)

Other than an article published back in August downplaying the conditions reported by the NYT, the Post has published little about substantive issues related to labor disputes at Amazon. This week, as Carney and the NYT and various other publications dove back into the labor dispute, the Post published a headline as part of a news roundup about Amazon.com suing review trolls—an interesting story, but not one that would harm the bottom line of its owner.

This was on a day when there was coverage from NPR, the Seattle Times, and others.

As far as we know, there is no blanket ban on negative coverage of Amazon.com at the Washington Post, which has published articles giving mediocre reviews to its sales, for example. But the paper is strikingly missing from a major debate about one of America's most prominent companies and this is probably not unrelated to the fact that Amazon.com and the Washington Post share an owner.

 

Zaid Jilani is an AlterNet staff writer. Follow @zaidjilani on Twitter.

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