November 10, 2004

WM Documentaries

Both CNBC and FRONTLINE will examine WalMart in depth:

THE AGE OF WAL-MART: INSIDE AMERICA'S MOST POWERFUL COMPANY. CNBC takes a tough look at the nation's largest and most controversial retailer. Tonight at 7 and 10 on CNBC.

IS WAL-MART GOOD FOR AMERICA? "Frontline" takes a tougher look. [It should be on next Tuesday, check your local listings].

I know people who swear by Wal-Mart and people who swear at it, folks who break into grins when they see the retail chain's flying, price- slashing smiley-face symbol in a TV commercial and folks who would like to practice their skeet-shooting on it. Whichever camp you're in, two new documentaries about the company, one tonight and one next Tuesday, should be of interest....

CNBC's report is the less adversarial of the two, but mainly because it spends more time on the history and day- to-day operation of Wal-Mart than "Frontline" does. CNBC is a business network, after all, and it's pitching its two- hour program to people curious about the inner workings of the company as well as to Wal-Mart's clientele and critics....

Both the CNBC documentary and the "Frontline" report would be stronger if they had done the hard math, so to speak, of comparing one town's per-capita income and tax collections before and after Wal-Mart's arrival, and if they had put Wal-Mart's business practices in the context of those of other big box retailers such as Target and Costco. But either program provides a good primer for a discussion of what our best interests really are.

Posted by Kevin on November, 10 2004 at 10:18 AM