Principled Profit: The Good Business Blog

Musings on the world-wide movement for ethical business, frugal marketing, and how honesty, integrity, and quality combine with deep relationship building to create business success. By the originator of the Ethical Business Pledge campaign and award-winning author of Principled Profit: Marketing That Puts People First and five other books

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Saturday, April 07, 2007

Mainstream Media Ignores Wal-Mart’s Vast Spy Scandal

You might have missed this story in the mainstream news; on the first two pages of Google results for Wal-Mart spy, AOL, MSN, and CNN were the only U.S. mainstream sources listed; they picked up the story from the Reuters wire, which means it was accessible to every news outlet in the world.

You can read the original WSJ piece, as reproduced on MSN, here.

But most of the returns were from places like Huffington Post,, and–the “usual suspects” on the Left.

Nothing wrong with those news sources; after all, I found the story by listening to Democracy Now yesterday. And DN’s interviewee was one of two Wall Street Journal reporters who broke the story, so this one actually started in the mainstream media.

Personally, I think that when the world’s largest retailer, a force considerably larger and more powerful than many national governments, illegally wiretaps phone calls with a New York Times reporter, intercepts employee e-mail sent over networks other than its own corporate system and records their correspondents’ addresses (e.g., Hotmail and Yahoo), infiltrates opposition grassroots groups, digs up a private unlinked archive of an activist’s vacation photos in order to identify him if he tries to go to a shareholder meeting–the list of shockingly inappropriate activities goes on and on–it should be a huge story in every print and electronic medium that calls itself a news organization–and government agencies should be investigating NOW.

I even searched the New York Times site to see if that august paper had deemed that such a story–its own reporter’s telephone was tapped when he called the company–was worth a line or two in print. But a search for wal-mart spy and another for wal-mart spying brought up nothing relevant or recent (this story began to reveal itself within the last few weeks, with the most important revelations coming just this week).

Oh yes, and Wal-Mart’s wimpy statement about future behavior:

This group [the spy unit] is no longer operating in the same manner that it did prior to the discovery of the unauthorized recording of telephone conversations.

Not “we have disbanded this group.” Not “we shouldn’t have spied on people.” Just a statement that the group is reorganized (the whole letter is included in the DN article). For shame!

But don’t you think when a story like this breaks across a major newswire and originates from one of the most respected media in the world, that other media would sit up and take notice? Papers in Taiwan and Belfast thought so, but not most of the US press.

Shame on Wal-Mart, yes–but shame as well on the major media outlets who ignored this story.


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