Bloggers with Attitude... Inside Wal-Mart?

Last Updated Mar 3, 2008 6:14 PM EST

walmart.JPGOkay, it was one thing when the nation's largest retailer, a behemoth many of us loved to hate, started going green.

But you had to give Wal-Mart credit when the company committed to achieving three huge sustainability goals:
  • Converting 100 percent of its stores to renewable energy
  • Creating zero waste
  • Selling sustainable products rather than those that deplete the environment
So you're thinking, "Yeah, but that all is just good business sense, right? Let's not get carried away in praising the corporate leadership for simply doing what they ought to be doing."
Then, comes today's news that Wal-Mart's latest blog, Check Out, is not censored by the company but instead has been turned over buyers who can post whatever they want to post.

Accordingly, company employees have been blasting some of the company's suppliers with a bluntness that would make any blogger proud.

For example, a video game buyer for Wal-Mart slammed a "Star Wars" film as a "debacle."

And, the Wal-Mart employee in charge of buying computers from Microsoft's said of the operating system, Vista: "Is it really all that and a bag of chips? My life has not changed dramatically -- well, for that matter, it hasn't changed at all."

Some of these bloggers even know how to make news.

It was a blogger on Check Out who revealed Wal-Mart's decision to only stock only Blu-ray high-def DVDs and players, effectively killing the rival HD DVD system in the process.

After its previous forays into blogging flopped, largely because executives thought they could use blogs as simply another channel for PR, the company consulted bloggers at sites like The Huffington Post to find out how to do it right.

It appears that they were told that in an age when everyone is a publisher, a blogger's voice is his/her greatest asset. So there's only one steadfast rule: Don't censor bloggers! Centralized control simply doesn't work.

Hey, you got to give Wal-Mart credit once again. They do know how to adapt.

Now, if only more execs inside mainstream media companies (where unzipped blogging can and still does get you fired) would get with the program.

Image courtesy galaygobi via Flickr [C.C., 2.0]
  • David Weir

    David Weir is a veteran journalist who has worked at Rolling Stone, California, Mother Jones, Business 2.0, SunDance, the Stanford Social Innovation Review, MyWire, 7x7, and the Center for Investigative Reporting, which he cofounded in 1977. He’s also been a content executive at KQED, Wired Digital, Salon.com, and Excite@Home. David has published hundreds of articles and three books,including "Raising Hell: How the Center for Investigative Reporting Gets Its Story," and has been teaching journalism for more than 20 years at U.C. Berkeley, San Francisco State University, and Stanford.