What do you do when your paid columnist wants to write about a product that is the demise of your revenue stream, and give the product an editor’s choice award?
Well that’s exactly what happened over at CNet when the Dish Network’s ‘Hopper’ DVR w/Sling was picked for a ‘Best of Show – Editor’s Choice Award’ by CNet staff.
Apparently the fact that this DVR eliminates commercials entirely, and then lets you watch the recordings from almost any internet connected device, is a big concern for the large media companies.
At one point the new DVR had CBS saying they wouldn’t have anything to do with Dish network if they proceeded with taking this device to market.
It’s enough of a threat that CBS, along with many other ‘major media companies’, have taken legal action against Dish and it’s ‘Hopper DVR’. In fact, this legal action was prior to the addition of the Sling services which threaten to further trample on their corporate profits.
Given this legal action, and the potential risk to bottom line revenue that the DVR implies, CBS directly ordered CNet to remove the Hopper from the running and re-vote on the remaining devices.
This directive allegedly came right from the CEO of CBS, Leslie Moonves, and was given to Mark Larkin, the GM of CBS Interactive News.
Mr.Larkin fought the decision while he could, getting into conference calls with CNet and CBS heads to try and avoid censoring the product.
Ultimately he was forced, against his wishes, to deliver the decree to CNet editorial staff; A task that, according to The Verge, brought him to tears:
“Sources say that Larkin was distraught while delivering the news — at one point in tears — as he told the team that he had fought CBS executives who had made the decision.”
Not only that, but CNET was barred from issuing their own statement about the removal of the DVR from the awards, and had to use a prepared statement from CBS regarding the legal issues surrounding the Hopper DVR!
Here is that official statement:
The Dish Hopper with Sling was removed from consideration due to active litigation involving our parent company CBS Corp. We will no longer be reviewing products manufactured by companies with which we are in litigation with respect to such product.
Immediately, Greg Sandoval, a regular CNET columnist, offered his resignation and went public on his Twitter feed about the incident.
Lindsey Turrentine, one of the ‘heads’ in the conference call with Mark Larkin, and the Editor-in-Chief of CNET News, took a moment to apologize for the situation, and for not resigning immediately when she had the chance.
Lindsey defended her decision, stating that she didn’t want to abandon her team and she felt she could affect change easier from her current position than if she were to resign.
Her full post is over here (at least for now): http://news.cnet.com/8301-30677_3-57563877-244/the-2013-best-of-ces-awards-cnets-story/
So essentially they could have let the whole thing slip by, and tried to avoid adding fuel to the fire.
Instead CBS has lit a bonfire that can be seen across the world, and now everyone’s hearing about the Dish Hopper DVR.
In journalism circles we call this the Streisand_effect.
What if you paid a writer, who specializes in gaming topics, to go cover a Panasonic Toughpad press event and he decided to get drunk and channel Hunter S. Thompson?
Well that’s exactly what Grant from ‘LOOK, ROBOT’ did for his coverage of the Toughpad:
“[January 14, 2013]Panasonic are launching a new tablet computer for the business market. I am not a tech journalist. I have never done this before. I don’t know what’s going on.”
You can read the whole thing here, it’s a lot of fun, and if you’ve ever been to one of these events you should be able to relate to most of his observations in one way or another.
All press is good press?
Well the folks over at Speed-Sew™ certainly seem to think they can get away with anything in promoting their products:
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I also keep pulling out the same old tube of Speed-Sew™, pop the cap off, wonder if it’s still good, and then sniff it!
It doesn’t smell good, and it’s not like it gives you a ‘buzz’, it’s as illogical as smelling your shoes when you already know they are going to smell awful.
By doing something in their YouTube video that I can relate to, by making the video down to earth, and funny, I am now motivated to laugh and share.
I want to say this is brilliant social media/video advertising, but sadly it’s a bad example because it has yet to go viral (some adverts never do).
Let’s give it a nudge shall we?