Consumer Reports and the Consumerist- a peculiar union

Word comes today that the blog The Consumerist, which plays on the same swing set as WalletPop, has been bought by the Consumers Union, publishers of Consumer Reports. I find this a curious union.

Consumer Reports is, to my mind, the best source for non-biased, data-driven comparisons and recommendations for consumer goods. The degree to which it attempts to quantify the attributes of goods from washing machines to life insurance has aided immeasurably in helping consumers see through advertising hype.

The Consumerist, formerly part of the Gawker empire, has, like many popular blogs, featured a blend of fact and opinion with more than a soupçon of attitude.

The curiosity I see, then, is that Consumer Reports defines the pole labeled objectivity as much as The Consumerist labels the opposite pole, subjectivity. I find it hard to understand how The Consumerist, in its present incarnation, can fit within the Consumer Reports brand. And if the blog is pulled in the direction of objectivity and reliance on test results, it can't help but lose some of the snarky attitude that makes it fun to read.

Also, while Consumer Reports may have thousands of dollars with which to test products before making its conclusions, bloggers are usually working for very little money, certainly too little to fund testing. Will The Consumerist be forced to abandon the 'regurgitate with attitude' model?

Perhaps this marriage can work, but from where I sit, it seems like a case of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir recruiting Brittany Spears. There's a good chance somebody's going to lose their shorts.

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