CHICAGO;It’s hard to accuse a panel moderator at American Business Media’s Top Management Meeting
of “lashing out” at an audience, particularly one filled with some of the most powerful b-to-b players around. But even in the decidedly chummy waters of TMM held here, one moderator did, albeit it in a relatively polite way.
“You have done a very bad job of understanding that these [editors] are the key to our businesses,” Crain Communications president Rance Crain told an audience of top managers on Wednesday. “The last (they) are are obstructionists. There is a vast disconnect.”
The panel;dubbed “Editorial Integrity: Under Assault?”;was one of the more adversarial on the docket, underscoring the increasingly wide rift between editorial and business interests of trade publications, and the often hard-headed staffs that comprise them.
“We have created a massively dysfunctional relationship between the editorial and business side,” said Pat Panchak, editor-in-chief of Penton’s IndustryWeek, who scolded the attendees for not bringing key members of their editorial staffs to the conference. “Top editors should be here.”
Panchak spoke of a request handed down from a previous editor that required editors to speak to every advertising vendor before publishing a story related to that industry, stopping short of requiring the vendors to be used as sources;a practice that might be called “soft product placement.” But, Panchak said, vendors would often wind up in stories as sources because of time constraints on the editors. Because of this, Panchak said, she refused to integrate the practice.
Whitney Sielaff, editorial director and publisher of National Jeweler, said discounting vendors as sources because they advertise in the publication is a problem, too. “I know editors who leave out advertisers who are major players,” said Sielaff. “That is just as wrong.”