The NY Times today runs a terrific expose of Wal-Mart’s sneaky practice of enlisting conservative bloggers to promote its corporate image in the blog world. The bloggers in turn, often use the promotional material which Wal-Mart sends to them unexpurgated and without attribution:
Brian Pickrell, a blogger, recently posted a note on his Web site attacking state legislation that would force Wal-Mart Stores to spend more on employee health insurance. “All across the country, newspaper editorial boards — no great friends of business — are ripping the bills,” he wrote.
It was the kind of pro-Wal-Mart comment the giant retailer might write itself. And, in fact, it did.
…Under assault as never before, Wal-Mart is increasingly looking beyond the mainstream media and working directly with bloggers, feeding them exclusive nuggets of news, suggesting topics for postings and even inviting them to visit its corporate headquarters.
But the strategy raises questions about what bloggers, who pride themselves on independence, should disclose to readers…Some bloggers have posted information from Wal-Mart, at times word for word, without revealing where it came from.
I am proud to say that Tikun Olam is unbought by Wal-Mart’s PR flacks. My opinions about the company are mine and mine alone. Given that I don’t think highly of the company, it’s highly unlikely it would even bother to contact me. But I just thought I’d declare my integrity anyway.