Blogs > Liberty and Power > Wal-Mart, Gays, and Sloppy Reporting

Sep 10, 2006 10:35 am

Wal-Mart, Gays, and Sloppy Reporting

This LA Times story about Wal-Mart entering into a partnership with the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce provides a good example of a trying to create controversy where there is none and insufficient critical thinking by the reporter.

The theme of the story is best summarized in this sentence:"But not all of its usual supporters — nor some gay activists — welcomed the announcement." This first part is a reference to conservative groups who normally support Wal-Mart now being upset by their"anti-family" stance in partnering with the NGLCC. No surprise there. But what about the"gay activists" opposing the partnership? On what grounds would they do so?

Later we read:

Just as black leaders have disagreed about whether to work with the company because of what critics call miserly pay and benefits, not all gay and lesbian groups believe the alliance is positive.

"Our community is a smart community, and we can see a shameless marketing opportunity when it comes," said Jeremy Bishop, program director of Pride at Work, a group within the AFL-CIO that represents gay and lesbian workers.

"For us it's a matter of social and economic justice, and Wal-Mart has a long record of not treating its employees — gay or straight — with equity and dignity."

So the only"gay activist" quoted in the story is, in fact, at least as much a union activist as a"gay activist." So despite the story's opening premise that"some gay activists" are critical of this partnership, in fact, only one appears to be. And that"one" is part of a group who has long opposed Wal-Mart for a whole variety of reasons.

Is it too much to ask that the reporter at least note that the AFL-CIO has a long history of opposing everything Wal-Mart has done, given their resistance to unionization? Is it too much to ask that the premise of"some" gay activists be rendered more accurately as"a gay activist affiliated with a union long-opposed to Wal-Mart?"

My point here is not that there's some sort of political bias in the coverage. The real point is that the reporter tried to create controversy where there wasn't any, overstated the degree of opposition by gay activists in order to do so, and then didn't provide full context for the one gay activist opposing the partnership. It's just sensationalism and sloppy reporting that has the effect of making Wal-Mart look worse than necessary for doing something good.

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Sudha Shenoy - 9/11/2006

The object of the exercise was anti-Wal Mart propaganda. Objective achieved.