Seattle Times editor David Boardman says his reporters spent months working on their Amazon.com series, interviewed hundreds of people, and “ultimately, we were able to shed light on largely hidden aspects of a company that is as secretive as it is successful.” He adds:
In the comments section of our website, the reaction was overwhelmingly negative toward us and positive toward Amazon. Example: “Your trashy take on a local business rock star is shameless.”
But in emails, calls and letters directly to the reporters and their editors, and in other publications both print and digital, it was significantly more positive. We heard from current and former Amazon employees applauding the series, as well as many businesspeople who had had difficult dealings with the company. Typical of the positive response: “Bravo on your article on Amazon. It takes courage and independence to take on a giant.”
I asked Amazon.com spokesperson Mary Osako late last week if the company had any comment on the series. Here’s all she wrote: “Thanks for your inquiry. We don’t have anything to offer but thanks for checking.”
John Cook of the Seattle-based GeekWire.com points me to his site’s poll on Amazon and its involvement in Seattle affairs. Cook writes in an email:
The majority of respondents indicated that they’d like to see Amazon do more, and I believe it would actually be in their business interests to do so.
I also believe Anazon’s role has changed in the community or should change as they play themselves in the middle of the city, versus the isolation of their previous HQ in an old art deco building atop Beacon Hill. In many ways, it was symbolically the perfect location for them.
Cook adds in a follow-up note:
It is really an interesting topic, one that delves into the role of a corporation in its hometown. I think it does matter that Amazon’s Jeff Bezos relocated to Seattle not only because of its tech talent but also because its population base was small (giving him an advantage of having to collect sales tax in a small state, versus a big one like California).
In other words, Bezos wasn’t rooted here, like Microsoft’s Bill Gates and Paul Allen. And he didn’t come here for the mountains, natural beauty, community sensibility or other reasons that draw so many other folks who like this corner of the world. I get the sense with Amazon/Bezos it is all about business, which is great and Seattle is lucky to have them. But I think that mentality just rubs some the wrong way who’ve chosen to live, work and play here for other reasons.