Friday, November 11, 2005

Against a Wal-Mart

When the big meeting happened in July at the Dockside in Chatham County to strategize about a possibly potentially coming Wal-Mart near the Orange County line, I was away. I was in Texas, where I noticed in a newspaper trade publication that the keynote speaker at the upcoming National Newspaper Association was going to be Wal-Mart's vice-president of corporate communications, Mona Williams. This wasn't long after the president of the NNA, Mike Buffington, had gotten into a bit of PR trouble himself for seeming to suggest that there was a tit-for-tat between Wal-Mart advertising and Wal-Mart news coverage.

But with reports of what happened at the NNA now in, it seems pretty clear that the point wasn't that the newspapers were in a hurry to do Wal-Mart's bidding:

Williams faced a tough crowd during NNA’s convention [in Milwaukee] Sept. 30—a room full of agitated newspaper publishers and editors who felt insulted by Wal-Mart’s refusal to advertise in their papers while at the same time expecting them to cover public relations “events” of marginal news value.

No, the newspaper folks are simply as put out with Wal-Mart as a lot of us are:

Buffington noted at the convention that an NNA survey this spring showed that fully 81% of responding newspapers believe Wal-Mart has had a negative impact on their community's retailers. More than two-thirds, 67%, said the retailer had had a negative impact on their papers.

Nicely timed with the local release of the film "Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price," the Independent Weekly has a great cover story by Dan Coleman on "What's Wrong with Wal-Mart?" "Even the most self-interested Americans should be concerned about Wal-Mart's employment practices," he writes, for "someday, someone you love may have no option other than a Wal-Mart style job."

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