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.
Here’s more on the story:
I consider IDG a good example of how to run a publishing company. And the way IDG has responded to this crisis renews my faith in the wisdom of the company.
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.
Crawford told staffers that the marketing department would play a greater role in the editorial process and directly contradicted an IDG representative in saying that several stories, rather than the single Apple story, led to the dispute. Crawford’s blog
IDG’s remaining print publications are ever more desperate for advertisers, while the editorial compromises it makes, which quickly leak onto blogs, are now more public, and embarrassing, than ever.
Crawford, meanwhile, is being kicked back upstairs, assigned to "driving IDG’s online strategy and initiatives" — a nice, safe, strategic role where he can’t do any more harm to the company’s editorial reputation.
In a surprise announcement, Robert Carrigan, president of IDG Communications, told PC World’s staff today that "Harry McCracken has decided to remain with PC World as vice-president, editor in chief."
paidContent.org: The Economics of Content – Crawford Back As Online Head of IDG After Controvery; PCWorld Editor In Chief Returns
Colin Crawford, who was recently promoted from being the SVP of Online to heading two of its key brands–PCWorld and Macworld–is back as online head, after a big controversy over blurring of editorial and advertising lines.
"Colin did not want the story to appear in the form it existed," Sholkin said. "He spoke to Harry to see how things could be modified." The two were obviously unable to come to an agreement, leading to McCracken’s abrupt resignation from PC World
McCracken informed staffers in an afternoon meeting Wednesday that he decided to resign because Colin Crawford, senior vice president, online, at IDG Communications, was pressuring him to avoid stories that were critical of major advertisers