Culture

Amazon rips into 'bruising workplace' portrayal in New York Times

Two months ago, a front-page story examined how far Amazon was willing to push its employees. Now Amazon's PR chief is calling into question the Times' accuracy and bias.

Amazon aims to poke holes in a New York Times story about the company.

Amazon remains deeply unhappy about a New York Times story that depicted the white-collar environs of the e-commerce giant as a "sometimes punishing" place to work.

In a blog post published Monday, Amazon PR chief Jay Carney disputed the validity of a number of the story's assertions, questioned the credibility of a key source and decried what he said was the unwillingness of the Times to play fair.

"When the story came out, we knew it misrepresented Amazon. Once we could look into the most sensational anecdotes, we realized why," Carney wrote. "We presented the Times with our findings several weeks ago, hoping they might take action to correct the record. They haven't, which is why we decided to write about it ourselves."

Carney's comments come two months after The New York Times published its story, which the newspaper said was based on interviews with more than 100 current and former Amazon workers. The story, under the headline "Inside Amazon: Wrestling Big Ideas in a Bruising Workplace," describes a company where employees are encouraged to rip apart co-workers' ideas in meetings, send secret feedback to co-workers' bosses, work overly long hours and meet standards described as "unreasonably high."

The story cast a stain on the public image of Amazon, the largest e-commerce site in the world by sales. It's also one of the most ambitious companies in the high-tech sector, along with the likes of Google, Apple and Microsoft, which also have endured depictions as difficult, demanding places to work.

In a response to Carney, The New York Times stood by its story, calling it an "accurate portrait" of the Seattle company's workplace culture.

"I should point out that you said to me that you always assumed this was going to be a tough story, so it is hard to accept that Amazon was expecting otherwise," wrote Dean Baquet, executive editor of the newspaper.

Amazon declined to comment further for this story.

The post by Carney isn't the first rebuttal Amazon has offered to the Times story. In a memo to employees a day after the story appeared, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos wrote: "The article doesn't describe the Amazon I know or the caring Amazonians I work with every day."