Did Parade Handle Bhutto Coup Correctly?
Why mag made right call to publishâ€”and wrong one to publicize.
When youâ€™re a magazine like Parade, you donâ€™t tend to scoop anybody. Unless the interview you did with former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto in November, slated for a January cover, becomes chillingly prescient when she is assassinated in a suicide attack more than a week before the article is scheduled to be published.
As FOLIO: reported, the magazineâ€™s decision to immediately post the interview on Parade.com paid off in record-breaking traffic for the site. The writer, Gail Sheehy, appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Larry King Live, CNN's The Situation Room, the CBS Early Show and ABC Radio to talk about the interview.
The print version, which arrived on Americaâ€™s doorsteps this weekend, made no mention of the assassinationâ€”referring to Bhutto as â€śAmericaâ€™s best hope against Al-Qaedaâ€ťâ€”and has subsequently drawn criticism. One FOLIO: commenter wrote:
Any journalistic outlet that publishes in newspapers ONCE PER WEEK would have made every effort to change the story to reflect the assassination. To allow those copies into print was tasteless and lazy, regardless of whether it went to print or not.
I wonâ€™t pretend to know what any journalistic outlet that publishes in newspapers â€śONCE PER WEEKâ€ť would do or not do. But I do know that if I were the publisher I wouldâ€™ve demanded the production team either create a sticker to be placed on the issue explaining my decision to publish, or pull it out entirely.
And, call it the Jamie Lynn Spears rule, but I wouldâ€™ve also done little in the way of publicizing the â€ścoupâ€ťâ€”who watches the Early Show anyway?â€”and certainly wouldnâ€™t have put out a press release touting a â€śbeyond the graveâ€ť interview.
UPDATE: Publisher Randy Siegel told the Associated Press that the only option other than to run the outdated article would have been asking newspapers not to distribute the magazine at all. "We decided that this was an important interview to share with the American people," he said.
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