paper trail

Amazon and the New York Times fight it out on Medium

Jay Carney

Behold a small parable of journalism and the workplace in the twenty-first century. Amazon’s spokesman (that’s Jay Carney, ex-White House Press Secretary to you) says on Medium that Amazon is much nicer than the New York Times would have you think, and that the Times reporters got one of their most colorful quotes, about Amazonians weeping at their desks, from an untrustworthy, disgruntled former employee who’d been caught perpetrating a fraud. The Times’s executive editor (also on Medium) stands by the story, in detail, and notes that, “Several other people in other divisions also described people crying publicly in very similar terms.” And the last word should go to the Washington Post’s Erik Wemple, who points out, with regard to the named employee, that “if the retail giant is willing to slime this fellow solely to attack the New York Times,” then that in itself “shores up the depiction in the newspaper of a no-holds-barred work environment” at Amazon.

Oral historians seem excited that for once they’ve beaten the novelists to the Nobel Prize. Svetlana Alexievich, though, is apparently keen to emphasize that she is “a writer,” not a journalist or anything else. She spoke to Masha Gessen for the New Yorker about her work: “We live in an environment of banality. For most people, that’s enough. But how do you get through? How do you rip off that coating of banality? You have to make people descend into the depths of themselves.”

The Sacramento News & Review will be getting a $15,000 grant from First Look Media’s Press Freedom Litigation Fund, to help deal with a lawsuit filed against them by Kevin Johnson, mayor of Sacramento (and one-time NBA star).

When you write the novel live, you might as well do the press junket right afterward—The Believerinterviews Joshua Cohen about PCKWCK, and being a writer nowadays: “I used to support myself as a journalist, and then the internet devalued that and I had to write more pieces for less money. The economic pressures attendant on being a culture producer: these all play into it. Writing a novel was always the life aside from that. There was always a church-state wall. And writing a real novel was the church, by the way.”

In New York, brows are apparently still fevered: Tonight at McNally Jackson, n+1’s Dayna Tortorici and the New Yorker’s Joan Acocella will discuss Elena Ferrante with her translator Ann Goldstein.