March 8, 2006


Blog Wars (Howard Kurtz, March 8, 2006, Washington Post)

I knew a few days ago that the New York Times was planning a piece on big companies like Wal-Mart using friendly bloggers to get their message out.

The reason I knew this, of course, is that some of the bloggers posted preemptive pieces after the paper contacted them for comment. (I have very mixed feelings about that, since no reporter wants to get scooped on his own story because he's trying to be fair by calling people. Welcome to life in the blogosphere.)

More interesting, though, is how Michael Barbaro's Times story paints the practice by Wal-Mart and others as faintly disreputable, when you could argue that it's just classic PR, no different than trying to find the right newspaper reporter (or radio talker or cable host) in an effort to get a fair shake.

It's a very different story, obviously, if a blogger runs the corporate spin verbatim, without disclosing the source, just as it would be for a garden-variety reporter to reprint a handout. Whether bloggers are doing that remains in dispute.

It's like a Moebius strip.

Posted by Orrin Judd at March 8, 2006 10:59 AM

As Kurtz points out, the Times has yet to figure out that in trying to play the "gotcha" game with people who have blogs, they're at the disadvatage in that their targets have the ability to publish their side of the story before the paper goes to press. The still have the advantage of wider circulation, espcially among the elites, if they want to spin the idea that right-wing blogs in general are shills for evil big businesses, but their victims no longer go into battle unarmed, and (given the right amount of linking) potentially have millions of readers of their own to can see if the Times in this case, or other big media outlets, have tried to slant the story.

Posted by: John at March 8, 2006 11:17 AM

"It's like a Moebius strip."
More like a Klein Bottle.

Posted by: jd watson [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 8, 2006 10:02 PM