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PC Magazine Editor Quits Over Killed Story

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Kim Zetter of Wired has the story. Long story short a new CEO comes in and doesn’t appreciate the Editor-In-Cheif writing stories that are critical of advertisers.

The blogosphere has been talking about transparency and not selling out to advertisers and maintaining integrity, etc for a very long time. As I have said many times before this is nothing new.

If any magazine or radio station let alone TV program tries to tell you that the advertisers don’t hold any sway over editorial content don’t believe it for a second.

Even in this story where now former PC World magazine Editor Harry McCracken ended up quiting over his story being killed Wired reports he was willing to compromise:

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.

Don’t think advertisers effect content? think again. Anyone who ever accepts a dollar from an advertiser will feel pressure to compromise their content either internally or externally. That is just a fact. Blogs are no exception.

Does that mean advertising is bad or that anyone who runs ads in their newspaper, magazine or blog is a sellout?

Personally I don’t think so as long as you don’t cross the line. Where is the line you ask?

It’s kinda like the old saying in pornography when you see it you will know.

A great post at Ed Bott’s Windows Expertise but I have to take exception to this:

For people who aren’t in the publishing trade, it’s easy to build elaborate conspiracy theories about the role of advertisers in editorial decisions. I’ve seen enough letters and online comments to know that some readers believe that reviews and news articles in technical publications are influenced by how many ads the subject of the story agrees to buy.

I know it to be a fact Ed. Maybe not at your magazines but I know it happens every single day. It looks like it is happening right now at PC World doesn’t it?

Read the whole post as Ed makes some very good points like this one:

Ten years ago this sort of story would have appeared in a trade magazine for publishers and editors, and most readers would never have heard about it. In the online era, the story is out in a matter of hours, and it doesn’t make IDG look good.

That right before blogging a story like this would have never seen the light of day.

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  • BSN

    Ten years ago, when I was a MarCom manager for an electronics manufacturer, I placed $50k of advertising with a major trade publication. That earned me getting the editor to fly down and offer to run any story ideas I could come up with.

    I saw it happen regularly. I knew a guy that would write stories about our company for a lazy business reporter that worked at a major newspaper. The reporter just added his byline and submitted it.

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