When Blogs Go Bad
Few examples of blogging gone wrong are as prominent as the recent case of Jim Zumbo, former hunting editor of Time Inc.’s Outdoor Life the second largest outdoor magazine in the U.S. In a February 16 blog post (since removed from the Outdoor Life site), Zumbo expressed his thoughts on so-called “assault rifles” by saying, “Excuse me, maybe I’m a traditionalist, but I see no place for these weapons among our hunting fraternity. As hunters, we don’t need to be lumped into the group of people who terrorize the world with them…I’ll go so far as to call them ‘terrorist rifles.’” The response was swift, and not just from the NRA. The post generated more than 2,000 comments, most of them negative. Hunting and shooting chat rooms buzzed all over the Internet. The post was made on a Friday evening, and by Sunday afternoon, Zumbo had posted an apology. Unfortunately for Zumbo, the damage was done. His TV show, “Jim Zumbo Outdoors” on the Outdoor Channel, was put on permanent hiatus. His longtime corporate sponsor, Remington Arms Co., dropped their relationship with him. And Outdoor Life, pressured by advertisers and readers alike, accepted Zumbo’s resignation. Zumbo has since apologized, but of course that doesn’t have as much impact in the blogosphere as the original comments. Zumbo, a longtime hunting and outdoors personality, has had his career severely damaged. Outdoor Life has a black eye, both for being the conduit for comments perceived as insulting by its readers and its advertisers, but also for caving to the pressure and severing ties with one of its longtime editors so rapidly. With blogging now a de facto part of just about every editor’s job, expect this scenario to play itself in other publishing categories, again and again.