After the series appeared, Seattle Times Editor David Boardman wrote that readers swamped the paper’s website with negative comments. In less anonymous communications, unsurprisingly, like emails and phone calls, he says comments were much more positive.

Well here’s another one. Far too often, newspapers are homers for their big local employers. While it certainly didn’t hurt that Amazon isn’t a major advertiser, it still takes nerve to put out a tough investigation like this on a fast-growing local giant in a dire economy, and to deploy significant resources on it when there aren’t any to spare.

It’s also something that could actually make a difference. It’s one thing to get dinged in The Wall Street Journal, say. That hurts you in the markets, which are awfully important, but fairly abstract.

It’s quite another when it’s the local paper your friends and neighbors read.

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Ryan Chittum is a former Wall Street Journal reporter, and deputy editor of The Audit, CJR's business section. If you see notable business journalism, give him a heads-up at rc2538@columbia.edu. Follow him on Twitter at @ryanchittum.