Colleagues at my former outlet, PC World magazine, have told me that Editor-in-Chief Harry McCracken quit abruptly today because the company's new CEO, Colin Crawford, tried to kill a story about Apple and Steve Jobs.
The piece, a whimsical article titled "Ten Things We Hate About Apple," was still in draft form when Crawford killed it. McCracken said no way and walked after Crawford refused to compromise. Apparently Crawford also told editors that product reviews in the magazine were too critical of vendors, especially ones who advertise in the magazine, and that they had to start being nicer to advertisers.
Crawford was former CEO of MacWorld and only started at PC World about a month ago. According to the PC World source, when Crawford was working for the Mac magazine, Steve Jobs would call him up any time he had a problem with a story the magazine was running about Apple.
"Everybody is so proud of Harry but we're devastated that he's gone," said the source. "This is no way to run a magazine. But unfortunately, this looks like an indication of what we've got in store (from the new boss)."
He added that everyone at the magazine was upset by the news. "There's supposed to be a party with the MacWorld people going on right now, but no one's going," he said.
The source didn't know the specifics of what was in the story Crawford wanted to kill but said it was nothing new. "It was supposed to be light fare, just really innocuous stuff. The same kinds of things people have said about Apple before -- things that teased Steve Jobs," he said.
I reached McCracken on his cell who, from the sound of the background noise, seemed to be leaving the MacWorld party as we talked.
[Full Disclosure: Harry's my former boss at PC World and someone I greatly respect. He's a top-notch writer and one of the smartest editors I've worked with.]
He didn't want to discuss the details of why he resigned but said he quit "because of some fundamental disagreements with Colin." He emphasized that he wasn't fired or forced out and holds no ill feelings toward the company.
"I've worked at IDG (parent company of PC World and MacWorld) for 16 years. It's been unbelievably good to me, and I have ten-thousand great memories so I'm not leaving an unhappy person."
He said he actually resigned yesterday, but workers found out only about an hour ago. When asked what he'll do now he said, "I'm going to blog and freelance at least for a while. I'll probably write for PC World by the way. I want to make clear that I'm a huge admirer of what PC World does and I'm not leaving hoping that PC World will collapse with out me. I'm sure it won't collapse without me."
PC World's loss is a gain for other publications. Wordsmithing, by the way, runs in McCracken's family. His sister is novelist Elizabeth McCracken.