New York Times Executive Editor Dean Baquet says it’s his job to encourage the newsroom to produce more pieces like its August story on Amazon’s workplace practices, a tome-length feature rich with employee anecdotes that described the tech company as a pressure-filled panopticon.
“That Amazon story got … I think four million views?” Baquet told Re/code Executive Editor Kara Swisher and Senior Editor Peter Kafka at an Evening with Code/Media at Steelcase WorkLife Center in New York.
“It’s my job to do as many ‘Amazons’ as possible,” he said, citing the impact of the piece, which was the most commented-on article in the history of the New York Times.
The point of these stories is to “spark a vibrant debate,” Baquet said.
But the story was also pilloried by some in Silicon Valley, many of whom defended Amazon and criticized the Times story for being out of context, contending that many companies create a rigorous and competitive environment.
“I always recoil at criticism that the story could have been about anyone,” Baquet said. “That’s not a journalistic construct to me — the construct was, ‘It’s true, it was important, we made the case there was something anomalous about Amazon.'”
Another noteworthy element to Baquet’s calculus in the Amazon story was to publish the story on a Saturday morning, in order to help preserve the value of the article to Sunday print readers.
“Sunday still accounts for like 40 percent of our revenue,” he said. “I have to make it so the reader still picks up that Sunday paper. It’s not easy.”
This article originally appeared on Recode.net.