He has emailed me the above short (58-second) video, with the comment:
I am in agreement with Chris Hayes for perhaps the first time ever. This is news in and of itself.
That’s a VERY good analogy, and here’s my reply: If you really didn’t like the segment, you shouldn’t run it. If you were on the fence about it, you should decide whether to run it based on its merits.
What the advertiser had to say should have NO bearing on your decision, period. To fail to run the segment BECAUSE of the advertiser’s threat would of course be wrong, and a betrayal of your audience. But to RUN it because of the threat, even if you thought it shouldn’t run, is a stupid, childish and irresponsible gesture that ALSO lets your audience down.
Your judgment about the quality of the segment and whether it properly, professionally serves your audience should be the only consideration.
To elaborate beyond what I told Bryan…
If the advertiser’s threat was public, you will pay a price in terms of your reputation if you decide honestly that the piece was not worth running. All the other kids in the playground will taunt you and say you were chicken, or worse.
And of course, that is more painful to the journalist’s pride than any other scenario.
But a mature and responsible professional will decide on the merits of the content, not on the basis of what may make him seem braver and tougher. You do the right thing, to the best of your ability to ascertain the right thing, and you take the consequences. If the content is worth running, you take the consequences of the advertiser’s ire. If the content doesn’t measure up, you accept the taunts from the crowd.