Mr. Bezos, A 21st Century News Outfit Wants You to Do a Daily Briefing, Just Like a Government Leader

March 24, 2020

I read “It’s Time for a Regular Amazon Daily Coronavirus Briefing.” The title alone is remarkable for two reasons: [a] Amazon is a company talk outputs enormous amounts of information in its blogs, on its Web site, and in its public statements and [b] news organizations are supposed to go and find information, not demand that companies give daily briefings.

What the article demonstrates is that reporting is supposed to be like the second grade. Students show up. A teacher outputs. The student listens, practices, or whatever.

The subtitle to the write up (I am not sure what to call it) asserts:

The company’s distribution network is understandably struggling — and it’s time that Amazon started answering questions about it

It is good to know that a 21st century news outfit can take a parental approach: “Understandably struggling.” Yeah, news flash. Many companies are struggling because employees are falling ill and certain attendant disruptions are amplifying. But “understandably.”

The subtitle also demands, like an old fashioned grade school teacher; for example, “It’s time that Stevie Arnold stops daydreaming in class.” How did that work out? I still daydream, and I am not sure external inputs are going to change me. I had to inform one millennial via a LinkedIn message that I was not looking for a consultant to improve my marketing of my blog. I explained, “Not a chance, gentle millennial.”

What’s the write up “reporting”? Here’s an example:

The company has temporarily stopped taking orders for non-essential items that are shipped through its fulfillment service while it focuses on getting more important items to customers.

The company also suspended Prime Pantry, a service for getting rapid delivery of discounted grocery and household items, amid a surge in demand. And — at the request of local governments — it downgraded the quality of streaming on Prime Video in Europe in an effort to reduce the strain on the internet.

Yep, slower deliveries and downgraded video. News flash: There is a virus problem. That virus is disrupting many things. Next day delivery. Does it matter? Video quality. Why not read a book?

Here’s what the DarkCyber team has noticed about Amazon’s current situation:

  1. Amazon is undergoing forced change. Change is hard, and in the midst of change, there’s confusion and those on duty may find it difficult to do mission critical things at all.
  2. Daily briefings are what governments do. Where’s the daily briefing from the hospital supply company in Nashville? No one cares about a daily briefing even from giant companies. Daily briefings, in case the 21st century news outfits have not noticed, are theater.
  3. Amazon appears to have failed in three critical business functions: Securing its supply chains, maintaining existing services to customers who pay for these services, and managing employees in a way that keeps employees chipper.

My thoughts are:

  1. Find people who have first hand information about Amazon and talk to these people. This is research; it is difficult and time consuming. But the point is the news has to be found, not delivered like cookies and milk in grade school.
  2. Adopt an informed approach to assembling verifiable facts. Skip the woulda, shoulda, coulda approach to a write up. The fact is the write up itself reveals that some people are inconvenienced because Amazon cannot deliver something quickly. Wow. One has to exert effort and manage time without Amazon’s “mom” services.
  3. Provide useful information. That means answering questions like, “What can an Amazon customer do when an order does not arrive?”, “What are the options for obtaining video entertainment?”, “How does one apply for a job at Amazon?” Answers, not complaints, might be helpful, might they not?

Net net: Companies are not eager to be told what to do by people who know zero about a business at a point in time. It is time for “real news” professionals to do old fashioned research, analysis, and reporting in DarkCyber’s opinion.

Stephen E Arnold, March 24, 2020

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