Sometimes you have to say 'no'

, posted: 3-May-2007 14:53

Kim Zetter at Wired News writes that PC World US editor in chief, Harry McCracken has quit abruptly, because of editorial interference:
... the company's new CEO, Colin Crawford, tried to kill a story about Apple and Steve Jobs. The piece, a whimsical article titled "Ten Things We Hate About Apple," was still in draft form when Crawford killed it.

McCracken said no way and walked after Crawford refused to compromise. Apparently Crawford also told editors that product reviews in the magazine were too critical of vendors, especially ones who advertise in the magazine, and that they had to start being nicer to advertisers.

Crawford was former CEO of MacWorld and only started at PC World about a month ago. According to the PC World source, when Crawford was working for the Mac magazine, Steve Jobs would call him up any time he had a problem with a story the magazine was running about Apple.

Good on Harry for standing up and being counted even if it meant leaving his job of sixteen years. I'm sure he'll do well in his next job. However, if it's correct that Crawford did what he's said to have done, I'm stunned at the idiocy of it.

I've never been in a situation where a story I've written has been subject to the above sort of pressure, but the thing is, if it happened, there's no choice: the journalist can't go along with it. Your integrity is all you have and with that shot, you're nothing but a badly paid PR troll. Furthermore, word will get out (as you can see), so you'll be burnt for future work in other media.

That the CEO would even think about bending over for Apple is stunning. What are readers going to think now?

Vendor-friendly reviews are not worth the paper they're printed on for anyone. Not the vendors either, because readers aren't stupid and can smell bogus reviews from miles away.

Update Harry McCracken has been re-instated and Colin Crawford moved on. All good I say.


Other related posts:
Twitter reporting
Speaking of prank calls
What PR people really think of journalists

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