Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos reportedly stays clear of the day-to-day operations of The Washington Post. But for a better understanding of the day-to-day news being produced by the newspaper he owns, one of Amazon’s most popular products is being offered as a free gift to those who subscribe.
In a new promotion being pushed via email this week, readers who sign up for an annual digital subscription to the Post will receive a free Echo Dot. It’s called a $50 value, which is normally the price of the latest Alexa-enabled device, but right now on Amazon’s site, the third-generation smart speaker is priced at $29.99.
The hook for news and newspaper lovers is that Post content such as headlines, breaking news alerts and a variety of podcasts can be accessed by simply speaking to Alexa.
It’s not the first time Bezos’s big tech company has been used to point people toward his newspaper. In September 2015, Amazon offered its tens of millions of Prime members the ability to sign up for a free digital Post subscription (converting to a discounted paid subscription after six months). I subscribed back then, and when I click today on “manage my subscription” on the Post website, it takes me to Amazon.com and a page showing my “memberships and subscriptions.”
In another promotion, the Post was delivered free through a new app on Kindle tablets. The New York Times reported that “Post executives said that the app represented the most tangible sign yet that the company’s culture was melding with that of its new owner. Mr. Bezos’s ideas and preoccupations have quietly helped shape the newspaper, they said, and empowered its technology employees.”
It does seem like a bit of squishy relationship since the Post newsroom no doubt tries to objectively cover Amazon and the wide variety of news the company makes — most recently with the announcement of Amazon’s nearby Northern Virginia outpost.
The Dot deal comes just a couple weeks after Post newsroom employees were quoted anonymously in a Huffington Post article asking what they think of Amazon and Bezos. Most of the grumbling was about wages related to Amazon warehouse workers.
But here’s another example of a quoted tied to the uneasiness some feel in the newsroom:
“As a Post employee specifically, though, one of my biggest frustrations with Amazon is that the story you’re writing is such an obvious one to do: The immense wealth and power that Jeff Bezos amassed there let him pour resources into our work, but also gives people reason to wonder whether Amazon is off-limits for us. My colleagues who cover the company do a good job navigating the many potential conflicts of interest inherent in writing critically about a massive corporation run by your boss. But those conflicts of interest are there no matter how well we do our jobs.”