The Forrester Research folks are in a bit of stew with their first edition of Forrester Magazine, released earlier this month (we mentioned the launch earlier in a Merc story and in our blog posting).
They gave Jimmy Guterman, former editor of the Industry Standard’s Media GROK newsletter, full editorial control. What did he do with it? Among other things, he ran a photo of Ford Motor founder Henry Ford above a caption “Go to Hell” and then a short piece (sorry, no link) proceeded to call Ford an anti-Semite, mentioned his racist policies and listed the ways he supported Adolph Hitler. Needless to say, Ford Motor was furious (Henry’s great grandson, William, runs the company) and cancelled its annual subscription contract with Forrester of “a couple hundred thousand dollars,” according to Brian Kardon, Forrester’s chief strategy and marketing officer.
Kardon, who mentioned the flap during dinner Wednesday night at the Town Hall restaurant in San Francisco, seemed markedly unfazed about it, saying that the story’s facts were accurate, and already known. Ford Motor called Forrester CEO George F. Colony to harangue him about the piece, and to say that an article should be written about how much good Ford had done for the U.S. economy and how much money it had funneled to various good causes, Kardon said. But “George said ‘Goodbye,'” related Kardon.
Kardon said he and Colony are discussing how to deal with sensitive stories concerning clients going forward, but that Guterman still has editorial independence. “What would you do?,” he then asked us, shrugging his shoulders. Well, we say, good for Guterman, and good for Forrester for giving him editorial control. As for Guterman, he told us he hadn’t had any backlash from above yet, but that the next issue — they run three times a year — would reveal whether or not he’d lost his independence.
True, maybe controversy works. Kardon said several hundred people had either registered at Forrester’s Web site, or had sent back reply cards inserted within the magazines — giving Forrester lots of potential client leads.
UPDATE: Here’s the text of Forrester Magazine’s piece on Ford:
Only white men with families qualified for his auto plants’ minimum wage of $5 per day. Goons hired by Ford beat a UAW representative to death in 1937. Then there is Ford’s anti-Semitism: He helped finance Adolph Hitler’s first political campaign, in 1922, and he ran an 81-installment series on “The International Jew: The World’s Foremost Problem,” in Ford Motor’s house organ. A large portrait of Henry Ford held pride of place in Hitler’s office, and in 1938 the Nazi government presented him with the highest honor given to non-Germans.
Also worth a look: MIT’s Tech Review Pulls a Jayson Blair