Business 2.0 Evil?
October 11, 2000 10:19 AM   Subscribe

Business 2.0 Evil? Tim Cavanaugh claims that Business 2.0 mutilated his article in order to attack Jesse Jackson.

Scroll to the October 6th letter on MediaNews to read B2.0's response, and Tim's response to their response.

I suspect I won't be buying their publication again.
posted by peterme (14 comments total)
I didn't know that anyone actually read Business 2.0, or any other of these 'new economy' hype magazines.Unbought copies will soon end up at a landfill near you.
posted by Mr. skullhead at 10:34 AM on October 11, 2000

This whole episode is quite disturbing, but I can't really say I'm surprised. It is clear to me that Biz2 is pursuing an implicit editorial line separate from their explicit mission of covering the business of the internet (etc.) - but so do many magazines of this type - descending into boosterism or negative commentary when straight reporting would do.

The boosterism is understandable (though unethical) - it supports their business model. The church and state division between ad and edit has long since disappeared in the business press, among others.

In any case Industry Standard is kicking their butts - they were 157th, Biz2 was 281st in 1999 and I remember reading something roughly similar for the early part of 2000.
posted by mikel at 10:35 AM on October 11, 2000

While I'm leaning towards Mr. Cavanaugh's POV, here is the counterpoint that nullifies at least one of his complaints. He DID tell the magazine to do with the article as they saw fit during the "editing process".


That still does not excuse the magazine's staff from making the wholesale changes they did, including defacing a photo taken of Jesse Jackson for the piece.

>The church and state division between ad and edit has long since disappeared in the business press, among others.

I freed myself from the clutches of Fast Company for this reason, among others.

posted by ethmar at 10:52 AM on October 11, 2000

Why stop reading Business 2.0 because of alleged unethical editorial practices, when you can stop reading it because it's crap instead?

posted by kindall at 11:07 AM on October 11, 2000

>Why stop reading Business 2.0 because of alleged unethical editorial practices, when you can stop reading it because it's crap instead?

That too.
posted by ethmar at 11:09 AM on October 11, 2000

The editor should have replaced the byline. That would have been the ethical thing to do. Anything less is misrepresentation. The AWOL thing is a red hering.
posted by leo at 11:30 AM on October 11, 2000

OPf course, we can always read Red Herring instead. Oh wait. (also from medianews)
posted by feckless at 11:35 AM on October 11, 2000

Well, there's always Red Hoerring.

I can't believe this is the only site in existence that features anything about Red Hoerring, BTW.
posted by ethmar at 11:40 AM on October 11, 2000

Indeed. Whether the editors' perception or the author's is closer to the facts, the fact remains that if he asked to have his name taken off the piece, it should have been taken off.

I'm not familiar with the common industry practices, but I'd say he has standing to sue; as a professional writer, his reputation is commercially important to his career; such a story impugns it against his will.

I hope he sues; I hope he wins.
posted by baylink at 12:11 PM on October 11, 2000

Is there a contractual policy for freelance journalists about the right to have one's name taken off a piece, similar to the one Harlan Ellison has used to be listed as "Cordwainer Bird" in his screenwriting credits? Or the legendary Alan Smithee clause in Director's Guilds contracts? If not, why not? Is it a bad idea for some journalism-ethics problem I haven't thought of yet?
posted by snarkout at 1:03 PM on October 11, 2000

I'll continue my subscription to Business 2.0 because I really dig the info graphics that Xplane creates for some of the stories in each issue.
posted by Brilliantcrank at 2:17 PM on October 11, 2000

Why is everyone assuming the publication is solely at fault? Blame usually lies somewhere in between the two parties. The writer seems like a badass. I'm not trying to exonerate Business 2.0 -- I know editors can be total boors -- but this knee-jerk favoritism toward the author seems ... well, reflexive.
posted by highindustrial at 3:12 PM on October 11, 2000

I don't think that this "knee-jerk favoritism" is the right term.

Rather, the author is someone who many of us have been aware of for a long time, and not only is he an excellent writer he is also pretty straightforward with what he thinks. If he wanted to write an article bashing someone he would. That is why its significant that the mag wouldn't remove his byline, they used his name deceptively in order to lend the article credibility.

its not a reflex.

What if someone kept reposting different versions of your posts, with your byline? wouldn't you get a bit pissed off? And if it was the person/people who ran the site, wouldn't it piss you off even more that they would abuse their power? i wish business 2.0 was a dot-com company so i could ad them to my f@ckedcompany portfolio.
posted by th3ph17 at 3:27 PM on October 11, 2000

I agree with th3ph17, and as I mentioned to him off list, another thing that this may or may not have been illustrative of is the different editorial styles of the long form magazine world vs. the short form world.

It's not uncommon in the big $$ mags for the editors to completely re-write stories. In fact, I've noticed in the publication that I work for, that writers -- whose experience has primarily been in glossy magazines -- have tended to file copy that needs a significantly larger amount of editing. I'm not saying this is ALL THE TIME, but MUCH OF THE TIME. And, the writer is not to blame. Editors in the big bucks magazine industry simply have a very different relationship with their product and in many ways can cultivate this kind of writer-editor relationship.

That said, I don't think this is at all what happened with Tim. First, because Tim is one of the best writers and editors in the field today. And second because, in his capacity as an editor, and the only editor I might add of his publication, he is highly sensitized to both sides of the process, and is probably the least likely to turn in questionable copy, knowing how much it sucks (all puns intended) to get crappy copy.

posted by josholalia at 9:33 AM on October 12, 2000

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