May 13, 2014
20 things The Washington Post has covered instead of the Amazon/Hachette dispute
by Alex Shephard
The Washington Post, which is owned by Jeff Bezos, has not yet covered the Amazon/Hachette dispute. As we noted yesterday, Bezos promised he wouldn’t interfere with the paper after he bought it—Post publisher Katherine Weymouth has said that Bezos “understands that the paper is going to write articles about Amazon and him and his friends that he may not like, and he understands that.” That may very well be true (in fact, I believe the omission is an innocent one), but the Post did cover Amazon’s dispute with Macmillan at length in 2010—you can read their coverage here, here, and here. Below, you’ll find 20 stories the Post has covered in the five days since David Streitfeld first reported that Amazon was raising prices and delaying shipment of Hachette books.
1. Fabulous vegetables
2. Chris Webber tells a joke
4. Samuel L. Jackson and free porn
7. Babies = Chocolate
8. Joe Theismann can take a joke
9. Stinkbug genocide
10. Commemorative spoon theft
11. What if the Kardashians bought the Clippers? LOL
12. Pope v. Devil
13. What happens to your Twitter and Facebook accounts when you die?
14. Downtown (D.C.) Abbey
15. How would the Air Force fight Godzilla?
16. Instagram sunglasses
17. Punk rock priests
18. Google Doodles
19. Jeff Bezos wants YOU (to operate drones)
20. Benghazi, Benghazi, Benghazi, Benghazi, Benghazi, Benghazi, Benghazi, Benghazi, Benghazi, Benghazi, Benghazi
In the meantime, the New York Times has covered the story twice. Slate, Forbes, The Dish, The American Conservative, CBS News, CNN Money, The Wall Street Journal, Business Insider, The Los Angeles Times, and GigaOm have also filed reports.
The Washington Post has not had an ombudsman since Patrick Pexton‘s contract expired in February of 2013. Shortly after Bezos bought the paper last summer, Pexton wrote this:
In fact, you should see tougher coverage of Amazon, and your business and management practices, because that’s what we as journalists do. That’s what a great newspaper does. Don’t be defensive about this. If the Post doesn’t cover the crap out of Amazon, then the paper isn’t doing its job, and will get grief from a thousand media outlets for not doing so.
Jim Romanesko and Dylan Byers have since picked up our questions about the Post’s coverage of Amazon.
Byers heard from Post Executive Editor Martin Baron, who wrote
“The story was reported in the New York Times on Saturday. With a staff nearly twice our size, the Times has full-time coverage of the book industry, which is based in New York. We do not,” he wrote in an email. “Having now become aware of the subject, we’re looking into it. We don’t discuss what we might publish or when. But, as always, coverage decisions are based on available resources and our own independent editorial judgment.”
It’s nice that the Post is ‘aware’ of the issue now. Our remaining question might be, given that they’ve covered the company’s publishing disputes extensively in the past, what could have happened in the interim to make them forget?
Alex Shephard is the director of digital media for Melville House, and a former bookseller.