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Free Market Project

3/1/2006 12:51:38 AM

Updated 02/24/06

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The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
A rare, fair view of Wal-Mart; more hype about global warming and hurricanes; and, of course, more bad gas reporting.

Sept. 7, 2005

     Katrina was, obviously, the major story of the week and its impact was felt on both the Bad and Ugly stories of the week.


The Good
     Its rare that big business gets an even break, so its worth noting when it does happen. Time magazines September 5 issue included a story on Wal-Mart's Urban Romance that showed how worlds largest retailer has turned to urban areas for growth. The story profiled Margaret Garner, CEO of the Chicago construction firm Broadway Consolidated, the first black woman ever hired by Wal-Mart to build a store. While the piece included some of the standard complaints about the company from union opponents, it also highlighted the positive impact especially job creation that a new store can have on a poor community.

The Bad
     It wasnt just the environmental fringe like Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., blaming Hurricane Katrina on global warming. The networks also did their part. On the August 29 NBC Nightly News, reporter Robert Bazell said many scientists say we can expect such storms more often as global warming increases sea temperatures around the world. Bazell took for granted that global warming is happening enough to cause weather disturbances an assumption commonly found in the media.

The Ugly
     Outright inaccuracy is always pretty ugly. Thats why the September 6 broadcast of The Early Show on CBS is worth noting. Both Julie Chen and Hannah Storm made the same incorrect claim about a record-high $3.20 national average for regular unleaded gasoline. According to Chen, The huge hit Hurricane Katrina put on the area helped send gas prices shooting up 75 cents to an average of $3.20 a gallon. The Web site of AAA, to which they attributed the price, disagreed. According to the Daily Fuel Gauge Report, the recent high was recorded on Labor Day at $3.057 or $3.06. The national average actually fell the following day to $3.041.

The Good, the Bad & the Ugly tracks the best and worst media coverage of business and economics. Readers are invited to submit suggestions or news tips to Director Dan Gainor at