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When A Blogger Meets Public Relations 193

Posted by Zonk
from the protons-and-anti-protons dept.
fermion writes "The New York Times is running a story on the evolving relationship between PR departments and bloggers, specifically between the Wal*Mart PR people and sympathetic bloggers. The interesting thing in this story is not so much the astroturfing, which is old news, but the transformation of blogging from a personal statement to a corporate bullhorn. The bloggers mentioned in the story, who presumably are able to articulate their own opinions, received Wal*Mart email and began to simply copy the PR text into the blogs. What is the use of a blog if bloggers are just going to copy sentences and sentiments from the puppetmaster's email?"
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When A Blogger Meets Public Relations

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  • Nothing new (Score:5, Informative)

    by AKAImBatman (238306) * <akaimbatman@gmail.cFREEBSDom minus bsd> on Tuesday March 07, 2006 @12:17PM (#14866823) Homepage Journal
    The bloggers mentioned in the story, who presumably are able to articulate their own opinions, received Wal*Mart email and began to simply copy the PR text into the blogs.

    Wait, I don't understand. This is news? I thought it was common knowledge that a large portion of bloggers (the majority?) simply copy text from elsewhere as their "blog". Take Digg [digg.com] as an example. Digg integrates with many blogging services, allowing users to write commentary on the story, and link back to the Digg page from their blog. The feature is quite popular as most of the front page stories have a "blog" attached to them.

    Now with such a feature, you would expect each blogger to provide insightful commentary on the issue at hand, right? Wrong. The majority of the blogs do nothing more than replicate the exact text from the Digg story. Not only are these blogs redundant, but they add another level of indirection to anyone who might happen upon them. ("Oh, so I go from blog, to Digg, to Link, right?") Ok, so the better blogs have a direct link AND a Digg link. But this is really nothing more than sydication of rather fluffy content.

    Here's a few examples of what I'm talking about:

    http://nik-hil.blogspot.com/ [blogspot.com]
    http://www.r00tware.com/ [r00tware.com]
    http://hackerslife.blogspot.com/ [blogspot.com]
    http://www.petesblog.com/ [petesblog.com]

    These are examples of "real" blogs with sydicated Digg content mixed in:

    http://jacobsonster.blogspot.com/ [blogspot.com]
    http://howgoodisthis.wordpress.com/ [wordpress.com]

    Now these blogs aren't entirely without value. In many cases, it's a way of aligning your tastes with those of a particular blogger. i.e. That blogger only links to articles you want to know about. It's also good for the site that's being Dugg, as they have more links to their site.

    But no, there's nothing magically articulate about bloggers. Plenty of them are happy to syndicate.
    • Re:Nothing new (Score:5, Informative)

      by grazzy (56382) <{ten.ews.ekauq} {ta} {yzzarg}> on Tuesday March 07, 2006 @12:20PM (#14866851) Homepage Journal
      Digg has a feature called "blog" this that just copies the blog summary to your blog verbatim. It makes it very easy todo what these guys are doing.
    • Re:Nothing new (Score:3, Insightful)

      by garcia (6573)
      I thought it was common knowledge that a large portion of bloggers (the majority?) simply copy text from elsewhere as their "blog".

      The only time that I copy/paste stuff into the posts on my site is when I'm directly quoting a source or posting a copy of an e-mail from staff members or inviduals that opted to e-mail me directly instead of posting a comment.

      Take for example the comments from the Copper Bleu Training Manager [lazylightning.org] regarding my disappointment in their Guinness Pours or the comments from a comic in t [lazylightning.org]
    • Blogs are good at connecting to people that are hard to reach. Many of these people otherwise would not have found the press release. By repeating the contained information, they reach these viewers. So yes, the blog still servers a purpose -- by connecting those with a message, to those who may be interested in that message.
    • Re:Nothing new (Score:3, Insightful)

      by rewinn (647614)

      In the old days ...like six months ago ... there was a percerption that blogs were expressions of the blogger's personal observations. WalMartBlog has revealed what you may have always suspected: it can be hard to tell whoring from true love.

    • I'm a little skeptical about blogging myself, and like you say, much/most of it isn't terribly original. However, I think that if there is some value to blogging, it probably comes from the selection and arrangement of the texts that bloggers choose.

      It's like a collage. The material within a collage comes from elsewhere and is "simply" pasted in, yet the overall effect is something greater than the mechanically reproduced parts. The problem here seems to be that Walmart are choosing the texts more than

      • Unfortunately, there isn't any magic formula that can give us a 100% definitive answer about whether a blog is just propaganda or an interesting collation of texts gleaned from elsewhere.

        What should be 100% definitive, though, is that even lazy, disingenuous fanboyism is *not* "astroturfing".

      • I'm a little skeptical about blogging myself, and like you say, much/most of it isn't terribly original. However, I think that if there is some value to blogging, it probably comes from the selection and arrangement of the texts that bloggers choose.

        I don't know what blogs you've been reading, but there are hundreds of original content blogs out there. I publish a weekly column at my blog about ADHD, Depression, etc. [blogspot.com] and how to deal with it - all original content. I scan dozens of original content blogs via
    • But no, there's nothing magically articulate about bloggers. Plenty of them are happy to syndicate.

      That is true; however, there's a difference between legit syndication and what the Slashdot story had to say with this:

      What is the use of a blog if bloggers are just going to copy sentences and sentiments from the puppetmaster's email?"

      For too many so-called bloggers, it's not at all about content, or even being heard, it's simply about being recognized. Almost everyone wants their 15 minutes, and m
  • Good question.

    KFG
  • What is the use? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Eli Gottlieb (917758) <eligottlieb.gmail@com> on Tuesday March 07, 2006 @12:18PM (#14866836) Homepage Journal
    What is the use of a blog if bloggers are just going to copy sentences and sentiments from the puppetmaster's email?

    What is the use of a newspaper that just reports government press releases almost verbatim?
    What is the use of a television channel if it copies its programming from somewhere else?
    What is the use of a boy band just like every other boy band?

    The mainstream media and blogs are beginning to watch over each other reciprocally. This is a good thing. It means that if either lies or fucks up, the other pounces down its throat.

    Three (tentative) cheers for a free press?
    • Re:What is the use? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Firehed (942385)
      Yes, but consider the newspaper. How else is the press release going to get out to the people for whom it's intended? Do you really think the government is going to want to send out hundreds of millions of fliers, at considerable cost to them, when the news sources can do it for effectively no cost to them? Of course not. The newspapers relay information, the blogs we're discussing duplicate it. I'm sure most /. readers know the difference between relayed info and duped info...

      The difference, in case

    • one more for the mix:

      what is the use of newspaper movie reviewers that cut and paste complimentary statements fed to them by the movie makers?

      i've always wondered how any newspaper that considers itself serious would employ someone like that
    • Three (tentative) cheers for a free press?

      Hoo...ray?

  • by erroneus (253617) on Tuesday March 07, 2006 @12:19PM (#14866846) Homepage
    People still tend to want to believe anything they read, but they shouldn't and routinely need to be reminded of that fact. Most importantly, people need to either accept what they read from various sources may not be true or accurate and be open to opposing information at any time, or learn to do their own fact checking and not accept anything as fact until fact checking confirms information.

    Only those who are already skeptical will do that... the rest of us are simply too lazy.
    • People may want to believe what they read, but most of us have the ability to distinguish between reputable, non-reputable and unknown sources.

      To me the whole article reads: "Media discovers that blogged stories may not be impartial." Not that mainstream media has ever reprinted a press release as news...

      Another question is who reads these pro-Wal-Mart blogs? If it's only people who are already pro-Wal-Mart there is no impact on reprinting a Wal-Mart statement. If I stumble across a random pro-Wal-mart b
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 07, 2006 @12:20PM (#14866849)
    Some people are "sympathetic" to Wal*Mart???

    I'm sympathetic to wounded puppies, starving people, oppressed subcultures, the sick, the dying, abused children, and so on.. but multinational corporations are just not something I can rouse the neccessary emotional response to sympathise with.
    • I'm not a Wal-Mart fan, haven't shopped there in 15 years. I don't like what they do to the small businesses in the areas they move into.

      Setill I have to admire them as the ultimate example of a capitalist success story, I also like their ability to stand up to the unions.

      So I guess you could say that in some ways I am "sympathetic" to Wal-Mart, I certinaly don't think they should be destroyed, as many people do.

      Not that I'm about the start posting their press releases on my web site, grant you.

      • Sir, you are aware the "the union" has nearly zero power these days outside of the UAW. Perhaps in the 60s and 70s when unions were very nearly the mafia, you may have had a valid problem with them.

        Wal-mart is famous for not allowing their employees to join unions. Wether or not you agree with how unionization affects the consumer, I'd think you could get along with the idea of people forming organizations to collectively bargain with their employer.
        • My wife is a teacher and believe me her union controls the school board because almost all the mebers of the board are nad picked by the union. The union presiddent has been known to pass noted to board members during meetings telling them what to say or how to vote. Wha's worse is the union refuses to push for things that would make life better for the teachers (and improve education), like reduction in class size, and instead obsesses on ridiculous points like 100% free health care.

          Remeber what the te

          • I forgot about teacher's unions.

            Remeber what the teamsters did with the UPS strike? They inflicted significant damage on the entire U.S. economy just so they could keep control of their slush^H^H^H^H^H pension fund.

            No, I don't recall.

            I'm glad they did damage the economy. It isn't anyone's responsibility in this country to do anything for the overall greater good of society. You seem to be for forcing people to work at dictated wages because it might harm the economy if they don't. I hope I'm not reading
            • Yes you are reading me incorrectly

              The UPS strike was in 1996 or 1997, UPS wanted to take over manegement of the pension program for their employees. UPS didn't like that they were paying a lot more into the fund than their employees/retiress were using (UPS was subsidizing the entire fund for all teamsters). The Teamsters weren't about to give up their ginormous pool of money in the fund (at the time UPS was the single largest contributor to the Teamsters fund) and they struck.

              I worked for a VAR at th

          • Damn those teacher unions, what nerve do they have asking for health coverage instead of smaller classrooms. The teachers should sacrifice their health care so your kids get better education damn it.
            • Smaller class size isn't just about improving education (though that can dfinitely be a benefit). It also has a major impact on workload and working conditions for teachers, my wife has 5 classes of ~40 kids each, that means 200 students wirth of papers/tests to grade and she ends up working several hours almost every night to get everytging graded & recorded.

              More students means more work for teachers at the same pay, I've seen it first hand.

              As for the unions health care demands, obviously the teac

      • Setill I have to admire them as the ultimate example of a capitalist success story, I also like their ability to stand up to the unions.

        If they are a shining example of capitalist success, we could do with a hell of a lot more capitalist failure.

        As for unions: exploitive companies like Wal*Mart are the reasons unions exist-- to protect the citizens employed by these evil companies.

        (Evil == "willing to fuck over people for their own gain.")
    • by srussell (39342) on Tuesday March 07, 2006 @12:57PM (#14867194) Homepage Journal
      but multinational corporations are just not something I can rouse the neccessary emotional response to sympathise with.

      I hate Walmart, or, rather, I hate Walmart management. They're terrible community citizens -- in fact, if Walmart was a person, it'd have been in and out of jail for most of its life due to a habitual tendancy for vandalizm and assault.

      Also, I agree with you -- corporations are *not* living entities. I sympathize with my television more than I sympathize with any corporation.

      That said, I think that most people who feel sympathy with the company are really feeling sympathy with:

      • Their own pocket book ("Walmart has great prices! One stop shopping!")
      • They are feeling sympathetic to all of the people that Walmart employs, who might not have jobs otherwise

      The main problem with the humanist sympathizers is that they're entirely ignorant about, or they choose to ignore, how shitty Walmart treats the people who work for it. It is similar to justifying sweat-shops by saying that the people are better off being raped than they are starving. The fact that often gets ignored is that these aren't non-profit organizations. There are plenty of fat (figuratively) fucks at the top who are getting rich while they figure out new ways of screwing their employees out of benefits.

      Despite the rant, I do think that there are people who are simply ignorant, and do believe that Walmart is a good thing for the jobs it brings into communities.

      --- SER

      • I'll agree with you in general, though there have been a couple of recent incidences recently where Wal-Mart has wanted to open a store in a severely depressed area that already has super high unemployment and most businesses wouldn't consider going into (because of high crime rates - we got your vicious cycle right here).

        Sure the Wal-Mart jobs would be shitty McJobs but personally I'd rather have a shitty McJob than be on welfare.

        In any case the times it's happened around here the unions (which pretty mu

        • Where was this? Usually walmart avoids severely depressed high crime areas. They like suburbia and small towns best. I would be very interested in knowing which severely depressed high crime area walmart wanted to go into. That seems to go against the walmart business plan.
          • Where was this? Usually walmart avoids severely depressed high crime areas. They like suburbia and small towns best. I would be very interested in knowing which severely depressed high crime area walmart wanted to go into. That seems to go against the walmart business plan.

            There was an instace a year or so ago in Inglewood, California, which is very near Los Angeles. There is another smallish city in SoCal where Wal-Mart didn't try quite as hard as they did in Inglewood, I forget the name.

            What's stra

        • Sure the Wal-Mart jobs would be shitty McJobs but personally I'd rather have a shitty McJob than be on welfare.

          Yes. I don't disagree with you; I'd, personally, rather submit to mild torture than be killed. I'd rather be forced to eat dog shit than have my fingernails pulled out. And I'd rather work at Walmart than watch my family starve.

          This doesn't justify the fact that Walmart abuses its employees; it doesn't justify the fact that, when they go into a market, they regularly ignore local environme

          • Of course Wal-Mart as people know it could not exist if it were unionized, it's not like there are fat margins that can be eroded to come up with increased pay and benefits. Wal-Mart is an extremely low margin operation that is successful because of excellent efficiency and incredible volume.

            Were Wal-Mart to unionize prices would raise an immediate 10-15%, efficiency would also take a hit as the employee culture shifted from performance based to seniority based. Volume would plummet (who would really sh

  • What is the use of a blog if bloggers are just going to copy sentences and sentiments from the puppetmaster's email?

    Blogs are used to clutter search engines. Where have you been the last few years? Most blogs are keyphrase link-fests. Another innovation from the world of online adult marketing. Porn coders could solve cancer if the money was there.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 07, 2006 @12:22PM (#14866872)
    We all know that "journalists" do this all the time. They quote from PR releases, and use video footage in their news reports.

    Why shouldn't bloggers do this as well?
    • We all know that "journalists" do this all the time.

      A cliche from an old movie:
        - The difference between a Journalist and a Reporter is that a journalist writes a story, a reporter simply reports what he sees.
  • by abes (82351)
    What is the use of a blog if bloggers are just going to copy sentences and sentiments from the puppetmaster's email?
  • Pot, kettle, etc. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by amliebsch (724858) on Tuesday March 07, 2006 @12:24PM (#14866886) Journal
    Fascinating that a newspaper would run such a story, considering the huge numbers of newpaper articles that are barely rewritten press releases from special interest groups and politicians.
    • by hal2814 (725639)
      Even if they're not released directly from the special interest group/politician, newspapers have a tendency to all run the exact same AP story that every other paper is running on many national issues. Often copying it verbatim or cutting it down to fit the space needed.
      • If you want to see a perfect example of this, check out Google News

        http://news.google.com/nwshp?hl=en&tab=wn&q=Brian+ Pickrell,+a+blogger,+recently+posted+a+note+on+his &ie=UTF-8&filter=0 [google.com]

        10 Stories with the exact same first sentance
        7 of them with The exact same title (Public Relations = PR)

        Syndication is usually a good thing, but on the internet, it's irrelevant. I'd much rather read two or three articles with different facts, insight and/or spin.

        Rarely does any one article collect all the f
    • Just wondering the same thing. Isn't this criticism:

      What is the use of a blog if bloggers are just going to copy sentences and sentiments from the puppetmaster's email?

      just as applicable to traditional media? When the Katrina tapes came out, it took several stories before anyone picked up on the fact that the contents of the tapes directly contradicted Bush's claims made right after the storm that "nobody could have anticipated the levee failure". What's the point of a news outlet that manages to miss such
      • When the Katrina tapes came out, it took several stories before anyone picked up on the fact that the contents of the tapes directly contradicted Bush's claims made right after the storm that "nobody could have anticipated the levee failure". What's the point of a news outlet that manages to miss such an important element of the story?

        Or even worse, gets that story wrong [usatoday.com], because they're repeating the claims of partisans rather than actually bother to listen to the words?

    • Also many product reviews are mostly barely rewritten press releases from the manufacturers.

      Anytime that you read a glowing review of the latest electronic gadget, you are most likely reading a cut/paste of the manufacturer's press kit.

      You should suspect blogs focused on consumer electronic products of having an unhealthly relationship with the product makers. Some sites/blogs are squeeky clean. Some sites/blogs always have their hand out for free samples (in return for good reviews).

      Blogs have mass commu
  • by digitaldc (879047) * on Tuesday March 07, 2006 @12:25PM (#14866891)
    Wal-Mart was found out to be exploiting [infozine.com] the US taxpayer by not providing adequate health benefits to its employees. How did they do this? They simply printed out instructions (in Spanish and English) to direct their employees to the nearest free clinic in the area.

    Illegal? Maybe. Unethical?

    Now that you know how they dodge their health costs, you can enjoy an article about the richest Americans. Five of the Richest Americans [forbes.com] are Wal-Mart's owners and relatives of owners.
    Maybe we should ask the Waltons how they feel about exploiting US Taxpayers?
    Blogs that just repeat Wal-Mart PR, are not blogs, they are PR for Wal-Mart. This is done order to help continue their ways of exploiting their workers and the system.
    • Maybe we should ask the Waltons how they feel about exploiting US Taxpayers?

      From what I've heard the Waltons are very humble, and even though they are each worth 20 billion they mostly live off the types of products sold in their stores. Of course they do so by choice, and the average Walmart employee does not.
    • A key part of Wal-Mart's business model is cost-shifting from the private to the public sector. Tax deals with states and municipalities are the most important part, but even the cost of storage is shifted from warehouses to trucks on streets and highways. The burden of maintaining those thoroughfares is of course on the taxpayer.

      And, for those praising Wal-Mart's economic "efficiency", please explain the advantage to the economy of forcing into leases the provision that no competitor can use the building
    • Why should walmart have to provide health care to low wage part time workers? Especially when the govt is offering it for free. Heathcare shouldnt be linked to jobs, it should be in the private sector, with more healthcare spending accounts. Companies dont have to provide it, and the govt is incapable of providing it.
    • by NotQuiteReal (608241) on Tuesday March 07, 2006 @01:38PM (#14867660) Journal
      I am not replying to be a Wal-Mart appologist, this is just a little exercise in analysis of a random "+5 Insightful Whine" post...

      Wal-Mart has a lot of employees (1.7 Million). It is a BIG company. Everything else follows from there.

      The full-timers do have insurance. But there many are part-timers who do not, just like many other businesses. Seems to me, giving instructions for finding free clinics is more of a public service for those employees who need it than an exploitive scheme. Do other companies tell their non-covered employees about free clinics?

      You might as well say Poor people exploit the taxpayer by using government services .

      Exploiting the US Taxpayer Did you know that Wal-Mart has 1500 International stores (3600 US)? Does Wal-Mart exploite the taxpayes of these other countries too?

      How does Wal-Mart compare to any large employer? How much health care does McDonalds provide for part-time employees? How about Starbucks - they have lots of part-timers.

      I don't know what all this hatred of WMT is, of late. What's the difference between a valid business model and an evil scheme? I guess it has to do with how big you are. At the end of the day, I think it all comes down to the fact that WMT has money and other people want to get at it because it is there.

      Let's check that last one... Is Wal-Mart making "obscene" amounts of money? WMT [yahoo.com]

      Profit margin: 3.6% - Doesn't look obscene to me, Sure it is billions of dollars. MCD makes 12.7% and so does PEP. TGT (Target) makes 4.58% - maybe they exploit their workers even more to squeeze that extra 1% profit out of them.

      • Starbucks offers health care benefits for employees who work at least 20 hours per week.
      • Wal-Mart is so big and powerful, that most companies have no leverage when trying to make a deal with them. Wal-Mart can dictate the terms of most contracts.

        For a great example, read http://www.fastcompany.com/magazine/77/walmart.htm l [fastcompany.com]

      • "The full-timers do have insurance. But there many are part-timers who do not, just like many other businesses. "

        Walmart minimizes the number of full time employees. They make many employees work just below the full time rate (whatever that is in the state) so that they don't have to provide health care. For example they may dictate that all employees in a particular store only work 39 hours per week so they can classify them as part time.

        Did you know that a typical walmart store costs the states millions o
  • by xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) on Tuesday March 07, 2006 @12:26PM (#14866900)
    "What is the use of a blog if bloggers are just going to copy sentences and sentiments from the puppetmaster's email?"

    Traditional media, including newspapers, magazines and especially the local TV news do the same thing every day.

    • You know who else does this?

      Your Representative in the Congress and Senate.

      A lot of the facts they get is pre-chewed food prepped by some lobbyist for Big Business.

      The lobbyists even give 'em 'model' legislation for consideration.

      Everybody does this, from highschool newspapers all the way to the Senate. It happens because it's easy.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Now we have shills on the internet, who cares. Just because it's online doesn't make any statements more true then anywhere else. In order to have a "voice of quality" you must first earn your reputation. The number of dullards who "read it on the internet, so it must be true" is thankfully getting smaller, as they knw to search for multiple sources of the same information.. and maybe read TFA once in awhile.

    I've read more than a few things and knew I was reading a corporate blow hole, and not a genuine
  • I'd be sympathetic too if I found a few extra dollars deposited into my bank account... *coughs* Ahem.
  • Bloggers update faster than newspapers and TV news that received Wal*Mart email and began to simply copy the PR text.
  • Ditto (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 07, 2006 @12:31PM (#14866949)
    The bloggers mentioned in the story, who presumably are able to articulate their own opinions, received Wal*Mart email and began to simply copy the PR text into the blogs. What is the use of a blog if bloggers are just going to copy sentences and sentiments from the puppetmaster's email?

    I couldn't agree more.

  • Corporate Fad (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Dr. Sorenson (947697)
    While there will always be companies trying to infiltrate blogs as a mouthpiece, this takes a sustained effort, the expenditure of resources and a coordinated effort for it to be successful in anything but the short term. Most companies aren't good on sustained efforts with questionable benefits and blogging is one activity that has dubious results in effecting the bottom line. Companies keep business by keeping their customers happy and there are limits to the effectiveness of spin control and FUD. RIM
  • by sphealey (2855) on Tuesday March 07, 2006 @12:36PM (#14866980)
    Duncan Black over at Eschaton [blogspot.com] (one of the most-read political blogs) had a good take on this: [blogspot.com]
    Unless I'm missing something this New York Times article is just another stab at holding bloggers to ethical standards and practices which don't apply anywhere else in the universe. The public relations industry existed long before bloggers came along and they had reporters' phone numbers long before they had the email addresses of bloggers. Barely edited press releases have long been published, especially at smaller newspapers. I get press releases and information from all over the place all the time. Obviously disclosure is a nice idea if there are any financial relationships, a practice not always followed by our hallowed 4th estate, but if people want to devote their blogs to throwing up Wal Mart press releases they're free.

    The main reason stories like this are even written is that contrary to popular opinnion the internet often provides a lot more transparency even when there are efforts to hide it. Astroturfing operations of various kinds through all media are nothing new, they're just usually harder to track. If Wal Mart pays 50 people to call talk radio all day and extol its virtues would anyone know?

    I'm not defending all astro turfing practices or its practitioners, and there are certainly ethical issues that can be raised. But "Wal Mart PR guy reaches out to bloggers" just isn't much of a story. PR people reach out to me all the time. So what.

  • by Minwee (522556) <dcr@neverwhen.org> on Tuesday March 07, 2006 @12:37PM (#14866989) Homepage
    The real question is "What is the use of a blog if bloggers are just going to copy sentences and sentiments from the puppetmaster's email?"
  • I was planning to make a smart-ass comment by simply going to the Walmart corporate website and posting some fluff. I was surprised to find a rather interesting article instead. It seems that they are finally responding to pressure and will start selling Plan B nationwide. They are still going to allow their pharmacists to exercise their ridiculous right to "opt-out" of filling Plan B prescriptions (which sometimes results in rape victims being forced to continue with their pregnancy at least as long as
  • What is the use of a blog if bloggers are just going to copy sentences and sentiments from the puppetmaster's email?

    The use of a blog is the same as it ever was: if an individual has something valuable to say, we listen; if not, not.

    PR departments have invaded every form of communication that has been developed. They will continue to do so. All we can do is be selective about who we listen to.
  • Or rather... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by endrue (927487)
    What is the use of slashdot if submitters are just going to copy sentences and sentiments FTA?"
  • by LWATCDR (28044) on Tuesday March 07, 2006 @12:47PM (#14867081) Homepage Journal
    This is great. The New York Times along with most of the press don't like blogs. So they write about bloggers that post positive material about Walmart. Walmart which is one of the current targets of dislike by many in the online community. And what are these evil bloggers doing? Posting emails sent to them by Walmart.
    If a blogger was posting emails sent to them by Planned Parenthood, Amnesty International, Whole Foods, Ben and Jerry's, or Greenpeace would it get any attention? Would they have any less credibility?
    I rarely shop at Walmart not because they are EVIL but because I don't like a lot of what they carry and the lines and parking are just not worth it. Yes there are other stores that provide better service, products, and or selections for not much more money. Those stores seem to be doing fine in my city.
    This is a great piece of spin and it looks as if many have fallen for it hook, line, and sinker.
    • > This is great. The New York Times along with most of the
      > press don't like blogs. So they write about bloggers that
      > post positive material about Walmart. Walmart which is one
      > of the current targets of dislike by many in the online
      > community. And what are these evil bloggers doing?

      Indeed. The NYT and even moreso the Washington Post are horrified by the free exchange of political information and fact checking that blogs represent. The "NYT blogger ethics" kerfluffel has become a complete
  • "What is the use of a blog if bloggers are just going to copy sentences and sentiments from the puppetmaster's email?"

    And you're asking this on slashdot?
  • by Doc Ruby (173196) on Tuesday March 07, 2006 @12:48PM (#14867093) Homepage Journal
    This story is most significant as Washington DC decides whether to protect the free speech of bloggers, as the First Amendment requires, as completely as it protects the rights of mass media, like cable TV news. The mass media lobbies DC with scare stories about corporations paying bloggers to publish pure PR, as opposed to the "responsible, independent, researched journalism" from the mass media that the law currently protects. The idea is to protect a privileged class of journalists, the corporate mass media, but not the unprivileged interactive media, like bloggers.

    Of course, the corporate media's entire business model is taking corporate money and publishing their PR, even if carefully cooked to provide harmless (or occasionally stress-releasing) corporate PR.
  • What is the use of a blog if bloggers are just going to copy sentences and sentiments from the puppetmaster's email?

    What indeed? But you might ask the same question about many online comments. Half the stuff I see on Slashdot is just somebody parroting their favorite Talk Radio host or columnist.

    But this post is really an excuse for a triva lesson: everybody's seen Press Releases, which are phony news articles that people put out in the hopes that lazy newspaper editors will print them unchanged. Back w

  • Anyone familiar with the American media knows that our "journalists" spend a lot more time recounting what they've picked up off the wire services and corporate/government press releases than they do actually attempting to enlighten the public . Why anyone would expect bloggers to be any less lazy and worthless than CNN, Fox News, MSNBC or most newspapers is beyond me.
  • Blogging, as with many concepts, sounds great in theory. Unfettered information and opinions blasting across the 'net and all that. However, in practice, as with most other forms of journalism it just means a bunch of lazy people passing off information from others. Whether it is from WalMart or the New York Times hardly matters. And yes (speaking as a recovering journalist), I count blogging as journalism. It's just the modern equivalent of Poor Richard's Almanac. Unfortunately, most bloggers (and modern j
  • Who actually reads corporate blogs anyway? The whole point of blogs being interesting, if they are personal blogs, is that the writing is interesting and has intrinsic value. It's not like TV where it is one site of a fixed number, there's millions of blogs out there and if the readers don't want to read it, they won't. I know I wouldn't waste my personal time trying to hunt through a corporate-sponsored blog looking for truth about anything.
  • by AeroIllini (726211) <aeroillini@@@gmail...com> on Tuesday March 07, 2006 @01:04PM (#14867272)
    Text posted on the internet might not be completely legitimate or factual.

    Film at 11.
  • Im quite happy to cut and paste some.. Ive spent way to much time getting good sources at NASA, and considering I am a big fan of space, if it passes our lameness filter (whatever that is) it can go on there.

    Of course we don't consider ourselves a "blog" so whatever, more like a space news thing. Sometimes cut and paste is good, especially when one doesn't want to place personal opinions on the piece.

    By the way we have a great article up right now at http://www.foxcheck.org/ [foxcheck.org] with a legal and free mp3 f

  • by mstone (8523) on Tuesday March 07, 2006 @01:15PM (#14867404)
    This is news?

    The whole point of unregulated speech is that people are free to abuse it. Some will be trolls, some will be corporate shills, some will be flat-out wackos, and almost all of them will be biased as hell. For all the crap some Slashdotters like to talk about bloggers being 'journalists', there's no set of standards or ethics that bloggers are required -- or even expected -- to obey.

    When people decide to turn off their critical thinking skills and just accept whatever they read on some blog they've never seen before, they're stupid. End of story. Making a big deal out of the fact that bloggers don't self-organize into an ethical and reliable news system is equally stupid. Both these principles fall on the 'obvious' scale somewhere near, "hey look: air."
  • Can I be the first to point out the irony that this story posting contains exactly two words that weren't cut and pasted from the person submitting the article?

    Atrios [blogspot.com] rightly points out [blogspot.com] that many many newspapers often pick up press releases and run them almost un-edited as content, and that it's been going on for a long time. The difference is that on the web such practices are much more easily exposed. "Much ado about nothing" indeed.

  • I don't know if anyone noticed - but the supposed bit of PR was that Wal-Mart is more selective than Harvard, the Navy SEALS and MENSA [iowavoice.com].

    If that's "good PR", Wal-Mart needs to hire better PR folks to write material that is actually believable.

    Of course, the guy who put up the Wal-Mart PR also likes to threaten lawsuits for anyone using 'his material'. [iowaunderground.com] Evidently, those corporate PR posts are copyrighted, dammit!

  • Do you believe everything you read on the Internet? Are blogs your new guides to truth? If so, you might need to be concerned about this... otherwise, just yawn and go on with your daily life. People mimick what they see all the time, either by copying it directly or repeating it in whole, part or kind from memory. Do you think that pop bands become popular purely based on their talent? Of course not it's marketing. Do you think that every political blog ever written has been a well thought out indepe
  • What is the use of a blog if bloggers are just going to copy sentences and sentiments from the puppetmaster's email?"

    Furthermore, what is the difference between bloggers and major news outlets?

  • I, for one, only put my Slashbot point of view in my blog. No no no, the editors don't tell me what to put in it. Rather, I copy from astroturfers here.

    I for one, think that Wal*Mart is evil, as is Microsoft, people who are paid for a living, commercial software development, and software patents. Google is evil for raising the average salary of software engineers, and for stealing all of the good ones. How will my dogfood website ever get off the ground now?

    Anyway, you can read all about it in my blog,
    • Honestly, though, you'd expect more people here to have a real issue with software patents... which just goes to show you that most posters are just regurgitating what astroturfers tell them anyway.
  • by xmas2003 (739875) * on Tuesday March 07, 2006 @08:47PM (#14871482) Homepage
    The guy extensively quoted in the NYT piece chimes in with his two cents here [iowavoice.com] - good reading IF you want to hear the their side of the story.

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