Harry McCracken, the PC World editor who resigned last week over an editorial dispute with new PC World CEO Colin Crawford, is returning to his position as editor-in-chief. Meanwhile, Crawford, who had been named CEO of PC World and Mac Publishing in March, will return to his previous position as senior vice president of online.
IDG president Bob Carrigan yesterday sent a memo to PC World staffers saying, "[CEO] Colin Crawford will be rejoining the IDG management team as executive vice president, online. In this role, he will be responsible for driving IDG’s online strategy and initiatives in support of our Web-centric business focus. We will conduct a search for a new CEO to lead PC World and Macworld."
A post on PC World.com quotes McCracken as saying, "I’m thrilled to be back with the PC World team. IDG is a company I’ve loved working for over the past 16 years, and one with a remarkable history of enabling editors to serve our customers; the millions of people who depend on our content online and in print."
Crawford offers an equally political quote on the site, saying, "It’s excellent news that Harry has decided to stay on at PC World as the editorial leader. I am excited to move back to a corporate role at IDG as EVP Online, where I can focus on various online opportunities for IDG, both in the U.S. and on a global basis."
McCracken had resigned after Crawford reportedly nixed an opinion piece called "Ten Things We Hate About Apple," over concerns about Apple advertising. The move prompted an angry reader response on the PC World forum. The article that kicked off the controversy is now live at pcworld.com (packaged next to a companion piece called "10 Things We Love About Apple").
Question of Control
The PC World episode revolved around a story intended for pcworld.com and it was initiated by a lack of understanding of editorial authority on the part of an online-centric executive.
It’s a situation that is in danger of becoming common. Unlike print, where content is physically managed by the editorial team, online just about everyone has access to content and a perspective;inappropriate or not;of what to do with it. Last fall, blogger Paul Conley took Mediaweek to task for placing hypertext ad links into the body of news stories on its Web sites. Mediaweek quickly removed the links, which insiders say had been put up by the marketing department without edit’s knowledge. More recently, Conley focused on Ziff Davis and CMP using Intellitext in a similar manner.
Publishers are quick to acknowledge the need to distinguish original editorial from sponsored content, but also say that the Internet is evolving so fast that the line between edit and marketing message is more blurred than in print. "Publishers and clients are more accepting of the gray area;it’s a brave new world," Priscott Shibles, vice president of online development for Penton Media (then Prism Business Media) told Folio: last fall. "I think readers are accepting of it if they know what they’re getting. If you start seeing some sites put out a lot of advertorial Webinars or advertorial e-blasts you’re going to see fatigue of your lists and a decrease in performance. That’s why we’re so focused on defining standards internally."