Today the New York Times ran a story on how Wal-Mart is using bloggers to build its reputation. Of course by “using” I mean feeding information to bloggers that have been sympathetic to Wal-Mart in its never ending battle with the left.
It should come as no surprise to anyone that some bloggers are more than a little lax about citing sources, I mean there are almost 30 million bloggers, an infinitesimal number of them have any journalistic training. Heck, I’m not even sure that most of them can spell (I know that I can’t).
In a world where real life journalists – you know the ones that get paid for writing – get caught making up stories, inventing sources and get paid for their opinions, I don’t see where the story is. Bloggers are, by and large, amateur pundits that enjoy writing, opinion making, arguing or some combination of the above. The internet is a vast place, so when Wal-Mart sends positive news about itself, or negative news about its opponents to parties that they know may be interested, they are providing a free service to bloggers (including myself) that may have otherwise overlooked the news.
One thing that I find telling about the whole story is that the NYT fails to mention any of the special interest groups and grass-roots organizations that send newsletters to members and interested parties highlighting news stories and press releases that fit within their own agenda. If you looked hard enough I would be willing to bet that a significant number of bloggers that receive that information fail to cite sources as well. NYT is bending over backwards to portray the ties between PR and the blogosphere as something that only evil corporations engage in. Because, you know, Wal-Mart is evil and stuff.