Monday, March 06, 2006

Anti-Wal-Mart Blogger to New York Times: Your “Story” Isn’t a Story

Some sensible comments from the Holmes Report Blog:
I suspect it is by now well known that I am no fan of Wal-Mart. So when I got an e-mail from a reader about an article New York Times reporter Michael Barbaro is working on about Wal-Mart’s outreach to the (largely conservative) blogosphere, I so wanted to find something outrageous, unethical, or even mildly deceptive about the company’s activities.

Sadly, I just don’t see what the story is.

[. . .]

Barbaro appears to have noticed several stories popping up simultaneously on conservative blogs around the country, and concluded that the stories were the result of some sort of insidious campaign by Wal-Mart and its public relations agency, Edelman. Of course, stories about Wal-Mart pop up simultaneously in the mainstream media all the time, usually as a result of an insiduous practice called the “press release.” Will Barbaro be investigating this next?

[. . .]

I’m not sure why Barbaro thinks there’s something strange or wrong or newsworthy about a company reaching out to the media. As far as I can see, Wal-Mart is doing two smart things: first, it’s recognizing the influence of the blogosphere; and second, it’s building a relationship with potential allies and advocates. That’s just basic public relations 101, isn’t it?

What’s really interesting, however, is the fact that Barbaro’s story is getting so much attention on the web before publication. That’s an indication of how much the game has changed. The fact that Barbaro is even reporting this story is viewed as news by the blogosphere, and has given rise to some interesting speculation about his story. It may even change the way the story comes out, or — if Barbaro realizes he’s on to precisely nothing — stop it coming out all together.


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