Monday, March 06, 2006

Wal-Mart and the Blogs

The New York Times has published an article about bloggers that defend Wal-Mart. Apparently some bloggers lifted copy straight from the company's press releases without attributing the information to the source. The result is that certain blogs appear to be nothing more than PR flacks. I'm sure we're going to see more and more of this type of article, a desperate attempt to keep readers in a dying old medium by trying to discredit new media. That's OK. Blogs are just like anything else. There's going to good stuff and there's going to be crap. It's for the reader to make up his up his mind, after reading a blog for a period of time, about whether the source is credible.

Now a brief statement about Wal-Mart (and they are strictly my thoughts). I don't blame Wal-Mart for trying to reach out to bloggers. They have been pretty much been vilified by the MSM. The arguments against Wal-Mart are very irrational but you can't speak logically to the liberal cabal. I got into a heated argument with someone at thanksgiving dinner about Wal-Mart, who she claimed was "the devil."

The fact is that all of this negative publicity surrounding Wal-Mart has to do with the grocery workers unions in California that resent the fact that they got shut out of Wal-Mart. I for one applaud Wal-Mart for steering well clear of labor unions. How many industries do we have to see go down the drain because of labor unions. The airlines, the auto manufacturers, what's next?

Wal-Mart is criticized for not offering insurance to many of its hourly workers. But they are no different than any other sizeable company that employs an undereducated work force. If not for Wal-Mart these people wouldn't even have jobs; forget about health insurance. Tell me how different Wal-Mart's benefits are than Target's or any other big box retailer.

All of Wal-Mart's big problems have come since it expanded out of its comfort zone, the rural south. In many small towns in the south Wal-Mart is not only the commercial center but oftentimes the civic center of a town. When Wal-Mart builds a store it's a minimum of 200 new jobs and not to mention lower prices for all the residents of that town. Put simply, people love Wal-Mart. In urban areas a job at Wal-Mart is not seen as an opportunity but rather another minimum wage job. People take these jobs for granted and it shows in how the stores are kept up (or rather not kept up).

My first job out of college was at Wal-Mart. They recruited me when I was a senior at the University of Florida. As a manager trainee I had the opportunity to visit the town of Brooksville Florida where Wal-Mart has a distribution center (a fancy word for a warehouse). I don't know how many people that warehouse employed but it was in the thousands. So many that they needed to attract additional population to the town to staff it.

Opponents of Wal-Mart often talk about the plight of the hourly employees but they never mention the hourly employees that started with Sam Walton and are now millionaires because of the company's stock purchase plan. They don't talk about the thousands of assistant managers and managers that started as hourly associates. I knew one by the name of John Tibbs. It wasn't always easy for John. When he got promoted into management right after he got married he was put on the night shift (managing the crew that unloads the trucks and stocks the store shelves). Imagine being a newlywed and being on completely different sleep schedule than your wife. But he did it because Wal-Mart offered him opportunities that many black men just didn't get in the south.

Last time I checked Wal-Mart has never forced anyone to fill out an application or to take a job. Nobody can say that "the devil made me do it."


Juan Paxety said...

The hypocrisy of the NYT, and the MSM in general, is amazing. I worked in news for about 15-years - I saw thousands of news stories written directly from press releases. When I fooled around in policics, I had several news stories that were lifted word-for-word from my press releases.

Writing stories from press releases happens thousands of times every day in traditional newsrooms.

benning said...

juan, I was going to mention that! MSM simply quotes the Dems and Leftists. A few bloggers not attributing thier info as being from Wal-Mart is nothing.

Senor Gomez, I work for Wal-Mart now, as a floor sweeper, mopper, trash tosser, etc. I can, should I wish, try for something better. But right now, I'm trying to get my novel to market, and trying to work through two other novels. I don't truly desire the career. But if I decide I need the increased income, I know I can ask to be trained in something better and I will be trained.

Just like that. I like Wal-Mart and have had my own loud discussions about it. ; )