business news in context, analysis with attitude

While the folks at Wal-Mart headquarters in Bentonville, Arkansas, like to maintain that they don’t really understand why the media pays so much attention to them, Wal-Mart CEO Lee Scott and many of his top managers cooperated with a two-hour CNBC documentary that aired last night and focused on the company’s expansion and growth. It went behind the scenes at Wal-Mart’s operations here and abroad, and featured a long interview with Scott.

While the CNBC piece was fairly even-handed and willing to accept Scott’s explanations for Wal-Mart’s various policy decisions, PBS’s Frontline is scheduled to run its own documentary next week: “Is Wal-Mart Good For America?” The Frontline episode looks like it good be more confrontational, examining Wal-Mart’s offshore and outsourcing practices and looking specifically at its Chinese operations.
KC's View:
If CNBC reruns the Wal-Mart documentary, you should check it out…if only because it gives you a real sense of how the company operates.

Some people will look at Wal-Mart as the great American success story. Others will see it as a relentless bully. For the record, we fall somewhere in the middle – the company is a great American story, but there is something about it economic power and cultural ubiquity that we find disquieting. (But temperamentally, we feelthat way about all big institutions, not just Wal-Mart.)