Editor Quits, Causes Uproar, Returns: Just Another Day in the Tech Trade Press

Proponents of editorial integrity are claiming victory following the reinstatement of PC World Editor in Chief Harry McCracken, who had resigned two weeks prior in a dispute over a cover story that PC World CEO Colin Crawford apparently ordered McCracken to kill. Um, make that former CEO, as IDG Communications President Bob Carrigan abruptly shuttled Crawford back to the company’s online group after just three months as head of PC World and Macworld, clearing the way for McCracken’s return. [Disclosure: IDG was my employer between 2004-2006.]

As David Churbuck notes, trade publications have always been beaten up over their close associations with advertisers and the perceived impact of those relationships on editorial coverage. Churbuck says he never experienced any such pressure during his days in the newsroom at PC Week, and neither did I. In fact, PC Week’s publishers, particularly the legendary Don Byrnes, went to bat for me more than once against advertisers who were outraged over some perceived slight in our coverage. The pains we took to maintain the church-state division never lessened the hue and cry of the Mac zealots (followed by the Linux zealots) who were certain we were on Microsoft’s payroll.

That was years ago, when publishers still had some leverage and could afford to play tough when vendors threatened to pull their ads. Now, with ad dollars at a premium, it’s particularly satisfying to see the edit guys win one. It’s even more refreshing to see PC World’s bloggers discuss the situation so openly. That’s something that would not have happened five or 10 years ago.  


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