Amazon News Stations Package Coronavirus

Courier Newsroom/YouTube

Watch 11 local TV stations run the same Amazon PR stunt about its coronavirus response

The package was part of a press release.

May 26, 2020, 4:26 pm*

Tech

Andrew Wyrich 

Andrew Wyrich

An Amazon-produced package showing its coronavirus response in a favorable light aired on at least 11 local television news stations across the country.

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The package running across the country was first spotted by Courier and came just ahead of the retail giant’s annual shareholders meeting.

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The package—which appears like a typical television news report—says Amazon “transformed its operations in response to COVID-19” and features several employees praising the company’s response to the pandemic.

However, the narrator of the package is not a reporter, but rather Todd Walker, who works in public relations for the company, according to Vice. A script was also provided to news outlets that were read by television journalists. Only one station in Toledo, Ohio mentioned that Walker was not a reporter, Courier reported.

Amazon told the news outlet the package was published on BusinessWire, a repository for corporate press releases, like other in-house content made by companies.

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Amazon’s handling of the pandemic—and employees who have spoken up about it—has been met with fierce criticism.

At least eight workers in Amazon warehouses have died from coronavirus, and employees in New York staged a walkout over what they described as subpar conditions in the wake of the pandemic. Weeks later, a worker from that same warehouse died because of the virus.

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The worker who put together the walkout, Christopher Smalls, was fired by Amazon shortly after it. The company said Smalls was dismissed after receiving warnings for violating social distancing guidelines. Notes from a meeting about Smalls among company executives were later published by Vice, showing how the company hoped to paint him as the “face of the entire union/organizing movement.”

Earlier this month, groups of Amazon workers delivered petitions to the home of Jeff Bezos, the company’s founder, and Jay Carney, the head of global corporate affairs.

The petitions demanded that Amazon reinstate unlimited unpaid leave during the pandemic after the policy expired on May 1.

Meanwhile, Tim Bray, a senior engineer and vice president, resigned “in dismay” over the firing of Smalls and other workers.

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Amazon told the Daily Dot earlier this month the employees were not fired for “talking publicly about working conditions or safety, but rather, for violating—often repeatedly—policies, such as intimidation, physical distancing and more.”

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*First Published: May 26, 2020, 4:22 pm