It often takes editorial courage to post controversial content
Recently I learned of a fracas occurring when the editor of a consumer magazine took a stand contrary to widely-held views of the audience. Readers were outraged and some corporate execs were incensed enough to cancel their advertising schedules. Ultimately, probably when backed into a corner, publishing top management dismissed the offender.
The situation reminded me of my own brushes with controversial matters during my years as an editorial director. I still believe that every industry has important touchy issues that deserve attention. Some editors, supported by their publishers, have the courage to move ahead. But in too many other cases, the editor is bludgeoned into silence by a publisher concerned that advertisers will be offended. And there are other times when editorial staffs, buried in quantitative drudgery, have no time to pursue situations where important conflicting views exist.
As a result, editorial competitive analysis projects I’ve conducted over the years consistently found meek content in industries where multiple disputes shouted for coverage. But there were other times when editors jumped the gun, basing an explosive attack on unsubstantiated views from a lone individual with an obvious axe to grind.
For those of you who read a column I wrote encouraging editors to assume “insider status” as soon as possible, there is a truism that can’t be ignored. The insider will quickly become aware of every skeleton buried in the closet. The observer doesn’t have a clue . . . ever!!!
Well-warranted controversy should have its day in every B2B publication. If you agree, you must decide which issues must be exposed. If you disagree, you may not be delivering enough of the need- to-know information your audience has found it can obtain elsewhere.