Editorial: Making Wal-Mart Change Its Ways
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Filmmaker Robert Greenwald's new documentary, The High Cost of Low Price, has opened to glowing reviews. The group Wal-Mart Watch is keeping the heat on the giant retailer by leaking an internal memo which shatters Wal-Mart's healthcare reform myth.
Instead of listening to its critics, Wal-Mart has created a "war room" to fight the charges, hiring a gaggle of high-priced PR types who are thrashing about and creating media opportunities for the good guys in the David and Goliath struggle. (A joke making the rounds is that Wal-Mart's PR blunders are the result of hiring too many folks from the Kerry campaign.)
Now, welcome to Round II in the battle to make Wal-Mart honest. This week, progressive media gets into the act in a big way with a unique journalistic collaboration. Writers from AlterNet, The Nation, In These Times, and the American Prospect have each tackled a key element of Greenwald's film, flexing independent media's muscle with quality journalism and opinion writing.
As Greenwald explains, "This media collaboration is an exciting model. Our film tells a number of important stories about how Wal-Mart goes about its business, often shockingly so. The addition of the in-depth investigative work creates an opportunity to go much deeper, and peel away more layers of the Wal-Mart story, getting closer to the truth."
Today AlterNet brings you Wal-Mart's China Price, by staff writer Joshua Holland, an expose of who really pays for Wal-Mart's cheap products (hint: the Chinese workers who make them). Tomorrow AlterNet offers Wal-Mart's Tax on Us, by Greg LeRoy, which documents how Wal-Mart's giant growth is the result of sweetheart deals and taxpayer subsidies.
Simultaneously, In These Times is publishing Slashing Costs, Busting Unions, by Christopher Hayes, which reports on Wal-Mart's anti-union efforts and how the company routinely breaks labor laws with impunity.
The American Prospect features Harold Meyerson's Open Doors, Closed Minds, a story of how a Wal-Mart true believer was persecuted by the company merely for doing what he thought was expected of him: crying foul.
The Nation is publishing On the Wal-Mart Money Trail, by Liza Featherstone, an investigation of Walton family philanthropy. Evidently, the giving habits of the wealthiest family in the world have changed a lot since Sam Walton's death.
Any business that employees 1.6 million people, costs the taxpayers upwards of $2.5 billion for supplementary government services to keep its employees out of poverty and has annual revenues of $258 billion -- bigger than many countries -- deserves close scrutiny. We're pleased that our partners have joined AlterNet in digging deeper and exposing the nasty ingredients that serve as the foundation of Wal-Mart's success.
Keep in mind, Round III in the big battle begins the week of November 14. Already there are more than 7,000 house parties scheduled and 1,000 churches showing the film in what will be one of the biggest debuts of a documentary in history. Sign up today to attend a screening or host one in your community!
Don Hazen is the executive editor of AlterNet.