August 16, 2015

SOME BUSINESSES DEMAND MORE OF THEIR EMPLOYEES, AND THE NEW YORK TIMES IS ON IT: As Sonny Bunch writes at the Washington Free Beacon, the Gray Lady blows the lid off the story that Amazon can be a challenging workplace environment for its employees:

If John Green were truly interested in making change—if he really wanted to hit Amazon in the purse strings—he’d push to have his books removed from the digital shelves of Amazon.com. He’d demand his publisher do no business with them. He’d go on the warpath.

Of course, this would cost him money. A lot of it. So he’ll settle for simply canceling his Prime Membership—note: he’s not boycotting Amazon altogether, he’s simply not paying $100 a year for free next-day shipping and access to the site’s streaming media—and pronounce his Goodness.

Anyway, John Green’s pronunciation of his Goodness was occasioned by this New York Times story, in which we learn that Amazon expects a lot of its employees and sometimes they can’t handle it.

That’s it.

That’s the entirety of the story: Amazon employees work hard and sometimes they quit because a lot is expected of them. The New York Times wrote thousands and thousands of words demonizing the company that funds one of their biggest competitors (the Washington Post) with the most minimal of disclosures* that this story was essentially aimed at trashing a competitor. And what’s our takeaway?

That Amazon expects a lot of its employees and the employees that can’t handle it quit and some of them are very unhappy because they couldn’t hack it.

Of course, one could this very same article about the Times itself — driven CEO with a somewhat problematic worldview? Check! Questionable attitude towards its customers? Check! Difficult workplace environment? Check! Employees who can’t hack it and want to bail

Part of the late 1970s Sectional Revolution, in which the Times became a multisection publication bulging with soft news and lifestyle journalism…Over time, this transformation crowded out coverage of high culture in favor of an oddball, wink-and-nod popular culture. “The entire social and moral compass of the paper,” as the former Times art critic Hilton Kramer later said, was altered to conform to a liberal ethos infused with “the emancipatory ideologies of the 1960’s” and drawing no distinction between “media-induced notoriety and significant issues of public life.” The Times took on more and more lightness of being. It became preoccupied with pop-culture trivia and über urban trends, reported on with moral relativism and without intellectual rigor.

The change was met by disaffection and derision within the paper’s newsroom. Grace Gluek, who ran the culture desk for a while as replacement editor, was one of the disaffected, and famously once asked, “Who do I have to fuck to get out of this job?”

…And how! Or as Glenn Reynolds noted in 2010, “I talked recently to an acquaintance who just left the NYT and he said that however bad you think the management is from the outside, the view from the inside makes clear that it’s ten times worse.”

Oh and by the way, note which business the Times is willing to spend thousands of words investigating – and which it won’t.

UPDATE: Veteran media observer Jeff Jarvis is “Hacking through Amazon’s jungle of coverage.”

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