The CES Best of Show award is a big deal, so this isn’t exactly a case of the Streisand Effect, but CBS certainly didn’t want to draw such a spotlight to one of their litigation opponents. The decision to censor CNET and disapprove their choice for the award has turned from a mild spectacle to a major blunder. Adding insult to injury, CES issued a press release today, awarding DISH’s Hopper with Sling the “Best of Show” award with co-winner Razer Edge.
“The CNET editorial team identified the Hopper Sling as the most innovative product of the show, and we couldn’t agree more,” said Karen Chupka, senior vice president, events and conferences for CEA. “The Hopper with Sling and the Razer Edge both represent the best of the exciting, innovative technology introduced at the 2013 CES. We are pleased to recognize both products as Best of Show.”
It’s a debacle with a lesson: if you’re not willing to be transparent with your online news publications, don’t get into it. The web knows. The people will find out. When you censor a journalist, the good ones will not go down without a fight. Leaks are too common, too easy for those with connections to other publications. If you can’t take the heat associated with news, get out of the proverbial kitchen.
CNET got slapped with more than just bad PR. According to TheVerge:
Yesterday, CEA president and CEO Gary Shapiro sharply criticized CBS’s editorial interference with CNET’s technology coverage in an op-ed in USA Today, and announced the CEA would be “considering [its] legal options under [its] agreement with CNET.” Today, the CEA officially ended CNET’s role in choosing the Best of Show award at CES, and announced it would issue a request for proposals from other potential partners. CEA senior VP Karen Chupka writes that the CEA is “concerned [CNET’s] new review policy will have a negative impact on our brand should we continue the awards relationship.”
Old media companies like CBS still seem to have a challenge with this concept. It cheapens the profession of journalism and promotes the ever-growing distrust of the news media. As I said before, I would be disappointed if everyone at CNET wasn’t actively pursuing a new career. Michael Arrington, a man who has experience with big companies trying to censor him, agreed.
This is a case to mark as a reference if you work in big media. Walls are being built around publications every day through government intervention, hacktivists who don’t like a message, and competitive publications smearing each other. The internet is a battleground when it comes to news. There’s no reason for big media to try to get involved. They are not the only ones who always lose in the end. The people lose through censorship as well.
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