Noose on cover of magazine
was fateful call made by 1 man
First, full disclosure:
* I was once managing editor of Golfweek magazine (1992-98), then became editor of Golfweek.com, and in 2001 fell victim to a staff reduction when Callaway Golf pulled its sizable ad schedule in reaction to a column written by editor Dave Seanor that criticized Callaway endorser Arnold Palmer. The column carried a lamentable headline referring to Palmer as "Benedict Arnold."
Now, some "insider" information:
* The scuttlebutt is that the decision to use a photo of a noose on the Jan. 19 cover of Golfweek was made by Seanor alone, over the objections of nearly everyone on the editorial staff. Several people that I talked to, inside the company, said they were adamantly opposed to the cover, and are sickened by the resulting controversy.
* That Seanor chose to use the cover does not surprise me. He once worked for the New York Post, and always had a bit of a tabloid streak in him. He likes to agitate, which it a trait highly regarded in journalism. He's a good newsman, and not afraid to take bold approaches to stories and coverage. Some call it pushing the envelope, but in this case he pushed way too far.
* Why no one stepped up to challenge Seanor and stop publication is a mystery, but it might have something to do with the fact that the president of the company lives in Connecticut, the publisher lives in Dallas, and Seanor was making the fateful call in Orlando.
* I worked a long time for Dave Seanor, we raised more than a few pints together and played many memorable rounds of golf on far-flung courses. He is a friend. And I'd like to think that if I was still working for him last week he'd still have his job -- because I would have fought him, literally come to blows if necessary, to stop him from making one of the worst decisions in the history of our industry.
Sadly, there was no option but to fire him.
All that being said, if the opportunity ever presents itself, I'd work for Dave Seanor again. And if I ever have the chance, I'd hire him to work for me. Making one big mistake doesn't make Seanor a bad journalist or a bad guy.