07 March 2006
Wal-Mart could change the role of the blog
In an effort to boost an image that is coming under attack from all forms of media, Wal-Mart has turned to bloggers to save its public image. The US retail giant is working directly with bloggers, feeding them exclusive news items, suggesting topics and, in some cases, even inviting them to visit its corporate headquarters. In a move that smacks somewhat of desperate last attempt to prevent its image from following the same path as McDonald’s, the biggest retailer in the world claims that they do not compensate the bloggers. However, those that have sold their souls to Asda’s parent company may just find an increase in traffic from newspaper reporters covering the story and online articles carrying highly sought after links. Wal-Mart is also offering bloggers the one thing that they may never have the opportunity to get their hands on again – first-hand news from a primary source.
Whereas blogs usually provide comment on the news after the mainstream media has reported it, these "lucky" bloggers have found that they are the one’s reporting and making the news. This could signal a dramatic shift in the role of the blog. If more and more major corporations decide to give press releases to bloggers before the normal media outlets, we could find people turning to blogs to get their news. The media will no-doubt balk at the idea that blogs could replace them and will suggest this will just lead to biased stories and readers only finding out what the major corporations want us to hear. However, when ABC does a story on Disney or Fox News reports on General Motors is there any real difference? In the case of blogs there will at least be many more questioning the news and the blogs that reported it. In most cases blogs don’t answer to anyone, something very few journalists can really claim.