retail news in context, analysis with attitude

Regarding the ability of Toys R Us to be relevant, one MNB user wrote:

At Toys R Us I bought my son a bike for Christmas.  They asked if I would like it in the box or assembled.  I asked for the box so it could be wrapped.  No one at the time told me that a non-assembled bike could not be returned.  Well you could guess what happened.  One of the pedal bracket holes was not tapped so the pedal could not be threaded onto the crank.  I took it back to the store.  Was promptly told that I could not return the bike because I purchased it in the box.  I clearly explained and showed the manager that there was a manufacturing defect.  She said I cannot take it back because she had no one to fix it and consequently could not re-sell the bike.  I told her the bike should never have been sold in the first place because it was defective.  I also said it was ridiculous when she suggested I find a bike shop that could properly thread the part for me.  It took me more than half-an-hour of back-and-forth debate until the store manager finally conceded and said she will take the bike back, but I could not take another boxed bike, but that I would need to let the store assemble the bike and that they would call me when the assembly was complete.  Needless to say the only times I have been back in the store was to return duplicate birthday or Christmas gifts.

Regarding the increasing tendency of people to get their news from social media, MNB reader Mark Delany wrote:

The larger implication, and potential problem IMHO, is the increasing use of “filters” to disseminate the news. In previous generations newscasters like a Walter Cronkite would simply communicate the news as they saw it – perhaps with some opinion layered on top – but essentially “just the facts”. Hopefully by now any knowledgeable viewer realizes that their choice of network largely determines the news they see reported and that there is almost always a “spin” applied. Now insert the younger generation and the “filter” may only get narrower and harder to break out. Our teenage son sees little use to network news and finds it almost laughable to sit through a newscast or God forbid read a paper – when he can see it all real time on his iPhone. Sites like youtube are his go to for anything from music to news to sports tips and the concern becomes that many will lose sight of the fact that these “filters” are being applied and that could lead some pretty scary results!

I think it actually can work both ways.

Yes, people tend to get their information from sources with which they already agree. People who watch MSNBC don't watch Fox News, and vice-versa.

But in his own way, Cronkite also was a filter. And social media also allows unfettered access to a lot of unfiltered news … which also creates its own problems, because nobody is separating the facts from the speculation.

MNB reader Ken Wagar wrote:

I think you left out a few words in the sentence below:
But the broader point is the degree to which social media continues to make inroads in shaping opinion, informing citizens, and serving as a tactic in ongoing culture wars.
Should have read:

But the broader point is the degree to which social media continues to make inroads in shaping opinion by both informing and miss-informing citizens, stating opinions as facts, ignoring science, allowing anyone to say anything about anybody at any time and serving as a catalyst in the ongoing and divisive culture wars.


Let's not forget, however, that some of the greatest and most divisive culture wars we've ever had in this country occurred during the sixties and seventies … and social media didn't exist then. Culture wars happen, I think, because of inequalities and power struggles. Social media can enable such struggles to become more public and more passionate.

But I'm not sure that's necessarily always a bad thing. A little revolution can be good for the soul.

Finally, thanks to all of you who wrote in about Tuesday's April Fools column. I'm glad you liked it … and no, I do not have any inside information about real Obamafones being in the pipeline. (Some of you thought it was a good idea, and some not so much.) It was fun to write, and I'm glad you had fun reading it.

As for yesterday's comment about Robin Sparkles … for those who asked, that was a semi-oblique "How I Met Your Mother" reference. Just FYI…
KC's View: