Welcome to the Magazine Spin Zone, Part Two
The semantics of a 'cancellation.'
On Wednesday afternoon, I was told by a publishing CEO that American Business Mediaâ€™s Digital Velocity conference, scheduled for March 3-4 at McGraw-Hillâ€™s Conference Center in New York, had been cancelled.
Thinking this was an important storyâ€”given the cancellation of the American Magazine Conference the week beforeâ€”I shot an e-mail to ABM and called a couple of the eventâ€™s organizers. No response. Our publisher e-mailed three of the eventâ€™s scheduled speakers. Each wrote back saying the event was cancelled; two added they were told ABM was â€śworking on a way to recreate the content as a series of Webinars.â€ť Meanwhile, a couple of the eventâ€™s exhibitors said that they were told not to send their booths to New York.
On Thursday morning, we posted a story with this headline:
ABM Cancels Digital Conference
Second publishing association event pulled within week.
Shortly thereafter, I received a call from ABM, which was upset about the word â€ścancelation.â€ť
This is not a cancelation, they said. We are just moving locations (to ABMâ€™s offices), shortening it (to a half-day) and are going to broadcast the sessions on the Web, they said. This way, we will be able to reach thousands of people on the Web instead of a few hundredâ€”around the globe!â€”they said.
More than a few phone calls and e-mails later, reluctantly, I changed the headline to this:
ABM Digital Event Downsized
Two-day event now half-day, held in association's conference room.
Still, Iâ€™m not convinced.
When a publishing conference goes from a 250-attendee, two-day event to a half-day series of Webcasts, produced in a conference room, with less than 50 live attendees expected, can you really call it a â€śconferenceâ€ť?
ABM can. I canâ€™t.
And I donâ€™t get it. Whatâ€™s wrong with saying your publishing event is cancelled? In this economy, itâ€™s not like itâ€™s a surprise, or an embarrassment. Itâ€™s reality.
The same goes for the sugarcoat-y spin the MPA and ABM try to put on their on monthly advertising figures (â€śWelcome to the Magazine Spin Zoneâ€ť). It's like listening to an Alex Rodriguez press conferenceâ€”in press release form.
More than that, I think what the MPA and ABM are doing is smart: trying to salvage something of value for their members in whatâ€™s becoming a brutal, brutal year in magazine publishing.
Just call it what it is.
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