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Tuesday, March 07, 2006

As Seen In The New York Times

What a day yesterday was, and not just the NY Times story about bloggers and Wal-Mart, though it made an already long one longer.

I was up at 4 to catch an early flight to Boston, do six hours of job interviewing (with one company) and back on a plane at to get home at 8:30 pm. Then I got to my inbox and the Times story, by the time I was done with phone calls and e-mails, it was 11pm.

The story in the Times, is in my opinion, not as bad as it could have been had bloggers not talked to the author of it. It could also have been a little better, but overall I don't think it's a total hack job on us, and does look at an interesting phenomena, the tipping of blogs by companies.

They did concentrate the story on the Wal-Mart angle, which I figured it how it would play out, though I was hoping for more companies to be mentioned. Only GE was also brought into the picture. I'm not sure if more would have been covered if the author would have had more time to write this, as the story was published earlier than expected due to bloggers wanting to break it first.

When the article was in the works I pointed out to Mr. Barbaro that just like newspaper sources, Wal-Mart was going to a place they felt they'd get a sympathetic ear. For instance, the story he did a few weeks ago on Lee's Garage. The WalMartWatch.Com folks didn't send the info the Washington Times because it probably wasn't going to be sympathetic to their cause.

The news business has run this way for years, find a paper or reporter that will listen, and bomb them with tips, hoping a few perculate into print. The difference with blogging is that there isn't as much editorial rework in our writings as happens in news papers, I dont' have a word count to worry about. Admitedly, I could probably use an editor at times.

One portion that I thought could have been edited to change the tone was the area of WalMart Watch and Edelman PR. While it's made abundently clear that Mr. Manson is a conservative writer, they don't exactly get all the info out on WalMartWatch and their brethern.

Wal-Mart's blogging initiative is part of a ballooning public relations campaign developed in consultation with Edelman to help Wal-Mart as two groups, Wal-Mart Watch and Wake Up Wal-Mart, aggressively prod it to change. The groups operate blogs that receive posts from current and former Wal-Mart employees,
elected leaders and consumers.
What they fail to mention in that paragraph is the funding for Wal-Mart Watch comes in a large part from the unions and other groups. who are pressuring elected officials into many of the laws targeted for Wal-Mart, such as the one in Maryland.

Yes, they get some of their info from former employees, but they are really just a conglomerate of union and anti-growth groups. Read their "About Us" pages to see who's really behind them, "Wal-Mart Watch is a joint project of The Center for Community & Corporate Ethics", is what their page claims, part of the Five Stones Group. (I've e-mailed the author to ask him about that).

The portion of my story that didn't make it into print, and I feel is relevant, is that though I shop at Wal-Mart regularly, I don't blog about them because I agree with them on everything. I blog about them because I disagree with groups like Wal-Mart Watch, and the unions who fund them. I don't think the mainstream media, in any form, has taken to exposing who's behind them as hard as they should.

Things like yesterday's AFL-CIO blog claim that the Wal-Mart story would expose "paid bloggers" is one of the reason's I don't like them. Like other bloggers I will be waiting to see if they actually retract that statement, now that the story is out, and the claim proven to be 180 degrees off course.

Sensible Mom, Marathon Pundit, Marquette Warrior, IowaVoice, and others have more info, and editorializing on the story. Thanks for telling me my name isn't mud!

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UPDATE: Thanks NY Times, and all the "progessive" website who are whacking at me today, my readership is up six fold over a normal day.


Blogger Tim said...

I almost never shop there. I think they have ugly stores and their goods are kind of sub par when compared with Target of Kmart. I did buy some patio stones there last year, and some marigold seeds, but I find their explotation of their workers distastful.

8:14 AM  
Blogger Pat said...

As I said in an email to Ruberry, about the only thing that matters in this who story is the way the AFL-CIO blog lied. Kudos on the mention in the Times!

12:59 PM  
Blogger Crazy Politico said...

Tim, they pay better starting wages than Target and Kmart, and have about the same benefits.

1:41 PM  
Blogger shoprat said...

I know a few people who work at Walmart and I hear very few complaints from them over the way they are treated. I know a guy who is a UAW committeeman who does seasonal work for Walmart and he thinks all the fuss is ridiculous.

6:13 PM  
Blogger Crazy Politico said...

It is a lot of wasted fuss. Wonkette is right, this really is a "non-story", but I'll take the readers :)

7:07 PM  

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