Macworld magazine has been around from the beginning of the Mac and, for most of that time, has been the most respected magazine in the admittedly small industry, winning multiple awards and setting the standard for “The Way It Should Be done”.
While not the fault of the usually exceptional editorial team, they have been the ones taking the brunt of the criticism as they are the public face of the magazine and web site. From auto play ads and videos at the top of stories (seriously, does *anyone* outside of IDG’s (Macworld’s parent company) marketing department think those are a good idea?) to writing staff trying their hand, usually poorly, at being “video stars” to annoying pop ups on *every* web page, the quality of the journalism is being shit on by the ad sales and marketing assholes.
Today, it got worse.
The web site has a story titled, “How to easily convert your old DVDs into digital files you can watch anywhere”. Why are they doing yet another story on this? Everyone knows Handbrake and other apps do this and do it well. Why not point to those stories?” The story then pimps an app called Aiseesoft Mac Video Converter Ultimate.
Leaving aside the awkward name and the fact I’ve never heard of the company or the software, something didn’t feel quite right. At no point in the story does the writer (Michael Smith, a name I’m unfamiliar with supposedly from something called the “IDG Creative Lab”) make mention of alternative apps, as Macworld stories often do. The kicker comes at the end of the story.
“Click here for a special holiday deal on Aiseesoft’s Video Converter Ultimate.”
If you check out that link, it’s obviously one used for tracking – it ends with “…christmas-macworld.html”.
“This sponsored article was written by IDG Creative Lab, a partner of Macworld.”
WTF? WHAT. THE. FUCK!!??
While I hate “sponsored posts”, which is just a lame euphemism for “The company mentioned paid us to whore ourselves”, I have a HUGE problem when that information is hidden from the reader or listener at the bottom of the page.
If you are going to sell your journalistic soul to your commercial interests, that sale should have giant red letters at 96pt on the TOP of your web site. Only the sleaziest sites would “bury the lede” at the bottom of the page as Macworld has done here.
Now, some of you might have gone to the Macworld.com page and see this story listed as “SPONSORED | By Michael Smith, IDG Creative Lab”. First of all, it’s under the “News and Insights” section of the site. This is neither news or particularly insightful.
Advertorials should *never* appear on a site’s news pages. NEVER.
But, if you’re like me and hate the Macworld.com site layout with the blinding passion of a thousand supernovas, you get your site information from an RSS feed. This is how it looks in Feedly:
Do you see the word “SPONSORED” at all? And then, when you get to the page either from Macworld.com or their RSS Feed, nowhere at the top does it say “Sponsored Post” or Advertorial” or “This post written while we had Aiseesoft’s dick in our mouths…”
Macworld.com has jumped over a line they were never supposed to even come close to. By even unintentionally blurring the Chinese Wall between their journalistic integrity and their ad sales and marketing departments, they not only continue to chip away at their reputation, they make it that much harder to get back.
And we in the Mac Community will be that much poorer for the loss.