Very apparent in the reaction to Wal-Mart’s push to offer generic drugs – and I don’t really need to point out what this says about how easily bias creeps in to news coverage…
Why Can’t We Have a Better Press Corps?
Kathleen Day’s article in the Washington Post ( http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/09/21/AR2006092100400.html ) on Wal-Mart’s plan to offer a $4 price for many generic pharmaceuticals is a classic example, practically a caricature, of anti-market, anti-big-business bias. Here with emphases added are some choice quotes from the front page article:
[i] Retailing giant Wal-Mart Stores Inc., known for forcing prices down to dominate nearly every market it enters, said yesterday that it would sell nearly 300 generic drugs for $4 per prescription…
Using its might as the nation's largest retailer and its legendary ability to force suppliers to cut prices to the bone, the company will begin the $4 price program in its 65 stores in the Tampa area today... ...the program has the potential to transform the $230 billion prescription-drug business the way Wal-Mart has transformed other industries, including groceries and toys, where its aggressive pricing has forced some competitors out of business and allowed it to dominate entire categories of merchandise.[/i]
In the entire article there is not a single positive mention from the reporter of consumer benefits or Wal-Mart productivity. It’s not until inside the fold that you even get a hint of consumer benefits and then it’s in the context of an absurdly biased attack on Wal-Mart.
Wal-Mart executives, criticized by labor unions and consumer groups that say the company shortchanges its employees on pay and health care, said they started the program to help families and retirees, especially those on Medicare.
The only thing missing is how Wal-Mart executives achieve their legendary efficiencies by eating small children for breakfast.
For comparison the AP story ( http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/business/AP-Wal-Mart-Health-Care.html ), written by Mitch Stacy, covers the same angles but without bias or rancor and it’s better written. Here’s the first sentence:
Wal-Mart, the world’s largest retailer, plans to slash the prices of almost 300 generic prescription drugs, offering a big lure for bargain-seeking customers and presenting a challenge to competing pharmacy chains and makers of generic drugs.