The package was produced by Amazon spokesperson Todd Walker.
Amazon is taking proactive action ahead of Wednesday’s annual shareholders meeting—at which investors plan on demanding the company address worker safety issues after at least eight warehouse employees have died of COVID-19—by pushing a package to local news outlets that promotes the corporation’s health and safety efforts.
While most TV news professionals have scoffed at the idea of running Amazon-provided content as news, at least 9 stations across the country ran some form of the package on their news broadcasts. The package—you can view the script Amazon provided to news stations here—was produced by Amazon spokesperson Todd Walker. Only one station, Toledo ABC affiliate WTVG, acknowledged that Walker was an Amazon employee, not a news reporter, and noted that Amazon had supplied the video. Other stations that ran the Amazon-provided content as a news package include:
- WTVJ-NBC, Miami, FL
- WKRN-ABC, Nashville, TN
- WLEX-NBC, Lexington, KY (ran twice)
- WVVA-NBC, Bluefield, WV
- WTVM-ABC, Columbus, GA (ran twice)
- KMIR-NBC, Palm Springs, CA (ran three times)
- WBTW-CBS, Myrtle Beach, SC
- WOAY-ABC, Bluefield, WV (ran twice)
In response to a request for comment on why the station ran the package, Wes Armstead, news director of the Bluefield NBC affiliate WVVA, told COURIER, “I was not aware the package was provided by Amazon.” Armstead said, “We’ll make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
News directors of the other stations—and Amazon—did not respond to requests for comment by publication time. We’ll update the story as soon as we get a reply.
UPDATE: According to an Amazon spokesperson, the video and script were published to Business Wire as are many other companies’ in-house produced content for media organizations.
Amazon also released this statement: “We welcome reporters into our buildings and it’s misleading to suggest otherwise. This type of video was created to share an inside look into the health and safety measures we’ve rolled out in our buildings and was intended for reporters who for a variety of reasons weren’t able to come tour one of our sites themselves.”
Correction: This report previously included WPLG in Miami and WGXA in Macon, Georgia, as having utilized the same Amazon package as the above stations; their coverage of Amazon’s claims came from a different source. We have updated this article and the headline to reflect these changes. We regret the errors.