IDG does the right thing

For a company that avoids PR so actively, IDG has recently launched itself onto the media stage with great vigor.

The closure of InfoWorld magazine a month ago signalled the end of an era across the magazine market, and then Colin Crawford’s conflict with Harry McCracken resulted in a very public slap on the wrist from IDG headquarters.

IDG Chairman Pat McGovern isn’t known for tolerating mismanagement at any single business unit. He gives each business unit leader great control, but that comes with responsibility. As people have joked in the past, McGovern gives them enough rope to hang themselves.

Here’s how Business 2.0 described the turn of events:

“In a rare and dramatic victory for editorial independence in today’s dismal magazine climate, PC World has ousted the CEO who spiked a story critical of a major advertiser — Apple Inc. — and reinstated the editor-in-chief who had quit in protest.”

What I find most interesting about the PC World story is the fact that both employees have decided to stay at the company. I don’t blame them. It’s a great place to work.

Harry’s profile while already high at the company will become an important symbol for all IDG editors who occasionally get challenged by the business pressures to file fluff. His return means this wasn’t a personal quest for martyrdom but rather a compassionate stand against unpleasant and maybe unethical working conditions.

On the other hand, Colin’s reassignment will create new challenges for an already difficult role as a centralized service in a truly decentralized organization. At a company where credibility is so important, Colin will have to redeem himself to be effective.

But Pat McGovern is not a spiteful man. I wouldn’t find it surprising at all if Crawford gets reassigned yet again when his skills make sense in another context at the company. Chad Dickerson insightfully identified the guiding hand behind the public voices in all this:

“I don’t know the inside scoop of what happened at PC World, but you can bet that Pat McGovern was in the mix, empowering people like Bob Carrigan to make the right decision in the end. In the news cycle, this might seem like a flash-in-the-pan story about journalism, but for me, it’s a story about respect and good business in the long term. Hats off to IDG and Pat McGovern.”

Agreed, Chad. Well done, Pat, Bob and Harry.

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