Next Week: Some Bloggers Write Favorably of Their Advertisers!
Panic! Blogs engage in unethical practices! New York Times reporters shocked -- shocked -- to find that publicists influence news coverage!
So let's summarize: Wal-Mart hires flacks to find already-sympathetic bloggers and make them... even more sympathetic. The controversy, per the Times, seems to be that bloggers are too lazy to re-write the blast emails from said flacks and don't disclose where they come from. We think. It's pretty damn hard to find the news hook, here. It seems like Wal-Mart's wasting its money. (Seriously, an online "war room" = a guy who checks Technorati and leaves comments, right?)
The controversy to us is that these bloggers receive nothing in exchange for favorable coverage -- they're whoring themselves for free. You idiots! How will we ever gain legitimacy if you keep giving it away? Ask for a goddam gift card or something, at the very least.
Full disclosure: We've met a bunch of very friendly people from Edelman who've never offered us free shit or anything, though one or two of them might've bought us drinks. We're not gonna write anything favorable of Wal-Mart, of course, because we still consider PR to be more or less the least respectable job in America (and we say this as professional bloggers!), and because Wal-Mart's for poor people. We're super-excited about that Target that's opening in Columbia Heights, though. Is that still happening? 'Cause we really need to get some cheap-but-stylish cookware. Oh, and Wal-Mart is turning us into a nation of uninsured wage slaves, but you knew that.