Gini Dietrich

The New Yorker Breaks Embargo and Violates Ethics

By: Gini Dietrich | December 6, 2011 | 
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I love The New Yorker. It’s one of maybe five magazines I still subscribe to the print edition.

I love when it arrives because it means a good two hours of solitude while I absorb every article in the month’s edition.

But I’m mad at them right now.

They ran a movie review of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” a week before the embargo date.

First of all, if you haven’t read the Millenium series (Dragon Tattoo is the first), please go do that now. In fact, don’t come back to Spin Sucks until you’ve read them all.

It’s OK. We’ll wait. You won’t be able to put them down and you’ll be back here before Christmas.

Back to The New Yorker.

Why am I mad at them for breaking the embargo, you ask? This happens all the time these days, you say.

It is because there was a Los Angeles screening of the movie (which isn’t out until Dec.21 and I might actually die before then) and, a condition of the RSVP and attendance, was to agree to honor the December 13 embargo date.

Well, critic David Denby agreed to that condition yet ran the review yesterday.

Scott Rudin, the movie’s producer, threw a hissy fit. Understandably so. And he asked Denvy, via email, why he did this.

The beauty of email is the exchange is now available for all of us to read.

Here it is, as reported by TheWrap:

Denby argues that the system of releasing a glut of serious films at the end of the year is “destructive”; that the New Yorker didn’t want to run a series of “tiny” reviews at Christmas, and didn’t want to delay more substantial reviews of some serious films until mid-January; and that faced with the dilemma of what to put in the December 5 issue, they opted to break the embargo and go with “Dragon Tattoo,” which Denby liked, instead of “‘We Bought the Zoo,’ or whatever it’s called,” which he implied that he didn’t.

Denby then apologized for the breach, calling it “a special case brought on by year-end madness” that wouldn’t happen again. And in a halfhearted attempt to curry favor, he congratulated Rudin on making a good movie and said he looked forward to seeing the Rudin-produced “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.”

Rudin’s reply cut right to the point: “Your seeing the movie was conditional on your honoring the embargo, which you agreed to do. The needs of the magazine cannot trump your word … I’m really not interested in why you did this except that you did – and you must at least own that, purely and simply, you broke your word to us and that is a deeply lousy and immoral thing to have done.”

Rudin also suggested that Denby would not be invited to “Extremely Loud” or any other Rudin film, and called the critic’s reasoning about “We Bought a Zoo” “nonsense.”

The thing that bothers me the most about this is if I were Rudin and Denby had come to me with The New Yorker “dilemma,” I would have either given the OK for them to run it, giving me the opportunity to do some damage control with the other media who attended the screening, or come up with a second solution that made us both happy.

There is nothing in this world that means more than your honor. As my mom always says, “Remember who you are and what you stand for.” And if you can’t stand for your ethics, what do you  have?

P.S. The review was actually really good and I cannot wait to see the movie!

About Gini Dietrich


Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, the lead blogger at Spin Sucks, and the host of Spin Sucks the podcast. She also is co-author of Marketing in the Round, co-host of Inside PR, and co-host of The Agency Leadership podcast.