The struggle between editorial and advertising departments date back to the age of Gutenberg. More recently, in 1996, then Rolling Stone editor Jim DeRogatis was fired after going public about publisher Jaan Wenner nixing his negative review of Hootie & The Blowfish’s Fairweather Johnson. Last year, the editors at Gawker.com raised a brouhaha when they discovered the site’s colors had been switched by the sales department from black to pink and blue, the colors of an upscale water advertiser. Now accusations of shenanigans are being made by two former staffers against the owners of Australian based dance music website Resident Advisor.
According to an e-mail statement yesterday, RA Editor-In-Chief Tami Fenwick and Reviews Editor Jeremy Armitage resigned when a review of John Digweed’s Transitions 4 was pulled—unbeknownst to them, they claim—from the site in favor of a newer, more favorable critique.
Said the editors, “The back story behind the switch is that Renaissance is a long term advertiser on RA, and Nick [Sabine, the sales representative of RA and also one of the owners of the site] decided to commission and publish a more favorable review as he was worried that Renaissance would read the original review and withdraw their advertising contract.”
Fenwick and Armitage describe the incident as “the final nail in the coffin of an ongoing struggle to separate editorial and advertising” that dates back to 2006. They state that their threat to resign if the new review was published was taken up by the site’s owners.
They added, “Unfortunately, after months of haggling, explaining and re-explaining why this is necessary for the success of RA, we haven’t been able to convince the guys at the top of the wisdom of this approach.
“Of course, we are reasonable people, and we have gone out of our way to accommodate advertising concerns where we can, for example by writing news items on client parties and releases which we don’t feel are in any way in touch with the magazine’s readership, and working with sales to try to find a place for client-sponsored features on the site. We’ve even gone out of our way to match writers with reviews so as not to rock the advertising boat too much. But all of these steps have been taken with a view to eventually separating advertising from editorial. In the end we couldn’t come to an agreement with the owners of RA about this philosophy. Thus the parting of ways.”
Big Shot contacted RA’s management for comment on Thursday night. We did not receive a response as of Friday night EST.