Some statistics about Wal-Mart included in a recent issue of Adbusters magazine:
"If Wal-Mart were a nation, it would be one of the world's top 20 economies. The largest private employer in the world, Walmart employs one of every 115 workers in America--more than GM, Ford, GE and IBM combined."
"As a result of Wal-Mart's low wages and poor benefits, hundreds of thousands of its workers rely on government programs, including tax credits and deductions for low-income families, food stamps, and housing assistance, to get by--sticking taxpayers with an estimated annual tab of more than $2.5 billion dollars."
You probably heard the news story that Wal-Mart has been feeding messages to selected bloggers to help repair the corporation's public relations blues referred to above. The news caused quite a hubbub. Sure, it's no secret that big business has jumped on the blogosphere (eww, sorry for using that term) to funnel marketing messages semi-virally, but these blog-targeted "press releases" were being posted word-for-word by the blogger in question and others without crediting the source.
Even the government calls on bloggers to do their dirty work. I found this example in the same issue of Adbusters, in a piece written by Olive Dempsey:
"From 2003 to 2005, Republican blogger Jeff Guckert acted as a plant at White House briefings, using official press credentials under the alias Jeff Gannon. The President and other officials relied on Guckert as an escape hatch. When real reporters were pressing them, they'd turn to Guckert who would dutifully turn down the heat by offering softball questions."
I used to think bloggers were above selling out. I thought they were a maverick crew who took pride in the fact that they were beholding to nothing outside of their own egos. Then one day in a meeting at work when I shared that opinion, a person who I consider to be an online guru blandly announced that bloggers would sell their souls to the devil for some free goodies. I was taken aback, but it's evidently true. After all, bloggers no longer represent a certain breed of person--especially now that the phenomenon of Myspace, etc. has everyone and their pilates instructor posting every personal detail from the name of their current place of employment to lo-res midriff shots.
I've been a blogger since before the term even existed (circa 2000). Witnessing all this makes me feel like a wizened veteran, shaking my fists at these upstarts. They're turning the blog world into a grimy jacuzzi of opportunists looking to hook-up with dates or get in bed with corporate America. And all I can do about it is post a rant in my corner of the blogosp...internet.