Saturday, March 11, 2006

CBS News “Public Eye” on Wal-Mart/Blogger Flap

Currently on the CBS News Public Eye web page, a column by Vaughn Ververs on the supposed “scandal” concerning the fact that Edelman PR executive Marshall Manson passed pro-Wal-Mart tips and leads along to sympathetic bloggers.

Ververs isn’t impressed that this is at all scandalous. He points out that this is what flacks have always done. When mainstream media outlets demand that bloggers disclose mere tips and leads, they are demanding a form of disclosure that they have never ever practiced.

And, Ververs doesn’t say but should have: would never demand of any outlet that was unfavorable toward Wal-Mart.

Perhaps more interesting, however, is this:
In a less-noticed New York Observer article this week, Edelman C.E.O. Richard Edelman talked about how the decline of trust in the MSM has combined with the power of blogosphere has empowered his industry:
“In a world where we don’t have a belief in a single source, you don’t have a Walter Cronkite anymore. P.R. is the discipline on the rise,” said Richard W. Edelman, president and chief executive of the public-relations firm Edelman.

“P.R.,” he said, “plays much better in a world that lacks trust.”
More:
“It used to be I would schmooze you and I was your flack,” said Mr. Edelman, whose firm netted about $260 million in 2005. “Today, if we want to get a message into the public’s conversation, we just make a post on a blog. If The Wall Street Journal goes after a client, we don’t have to accept that anymore. Let’s post the documents we gave The Journal; let’s show the interviews the newspaper decided not to show.

“You’re not God anymore,” he said.
And that’s what the mainstream media don’t like.

They have lost their status as monopoly gatekeepers.

Combine that with the fact that many bloggers are conservative, while the mainstream media are liberal, and you have a recipe for resentment. This is substantially offset by the mainstream media fascination with blogs. But it’s never entirely absent.

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