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Harry McCracken 1, PC World 0

Pc_worldHave you ever wondered how much pressure magazine editors get from their advertisers, especially when it comes to articles that are critical about the advertiser's product?  This article about former PC World Editor-in-Chief Harry McCracken sums things up all too well, unfortunately.  Colin Crawford, McCracken's boss, apparently didn't like how an upcoming article was shaping up and McCracken felt resignation was his best option.

That's a shame, but what bothers me most is that IDG has been totally silent on the whole incident.  After visiting both PC World's website and IDG's, I see nothing about the situation.  Yeah, I know it's a tough thing for a company to officially talk about, especially from a legal perspective, but this story is popping up everywhere right now.  Is it really best to sit back and say nothing?  How about Crawford's blogHe's got a great opportunity to write a post and help clear things up.

The silence is deafening and forces you to assume that all the content in PC World is scrubbed clean by the advertisers; that's probably not the case, but what other conclusion can you draw from this?


Michael A. Banks

It's bad enough when a magazine quashes criticism of advertisers' products--and this has been going on for decades. But what can a magazine do to a company that reduces or eliminates advertising?

I had an experience with this as a reviewer, back in the 1980s. The editor at a major magazine asked me to add some negatives to review of a program because its publisher had reduced advertising from monthly to bi-monthly. (Details on this and some related evenets at my blog, http://mikebanks.blogspot.com/2007/04/can-review-be-too-good.html)

Abuse of editorial power, whether it's by soft-pedaling a product's faults or slamming products that aren't "supported" by advertising, is ethically wrong and potentially damaging to magazines' as well as product's reputations. It's also a lot like payola--at least in the instance I describe in my blog, which boils down to, "Pay us [advertising] and we'll sing your product's praises; don't pay us, and we'll bury it."

Joe Wikert

Hi Mike. Yep, as far as I'm concerned, that sort of thing is just as bad as the PC World situation.

Matthew Weymar

Suggestion: Check out http://scobleizer.com/2007/05/03/harry-would-love-to-talk-with-you/

Scoble has been doing some reconsidering. You may - or may not - want to join him.

Meanwhile, Colin Crawford has addressed McCracken's departure, and criticism the likes of which you offer above, here: http://colincrawford.typepad.com/idg/2007/05/eic_change_at_p.html

Aside: Someone has commented on Scoble's explicit reconsideration of his original point. I like the way he does this. It is very clear, and therefore fair.

Joe Wikert

Hi Matthew. Yes, I saw Scoble's post and also noticed that he pointed back to mine. I'm also glad to see Colin Crawford went ahead and posted about it yesterday afternoon.

Do I feel compelled to change my post like Scoble did? No. I was commenting on the facts as they were appearing elsewhere and although one blogger has changed his opinion (Scoble) and another has weighed in on the situation (Crawford), I can't help but feel there's a lot of posturing going on. (Yes, that's just my opinion, but isn't that also what blogs are for?) It will be interesting to see just how direct/critical PC World is with advertisers (and their products) in future issues.

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