Media Blog

TIME Editor Stengel Ordered Rewrite When Steve Jobs Complained

I found this bombshell buried in New York magazine’s lengthy look at recent shake-ups at TIME:

Stengel is being tested on a lot of levels now. This is the biggest job he has ever had, and in some ways he is still learning how to do it. In January, Time published an exclusive story on the new iPhone, in which writer Lev Grossman tweaked Apple CEO Steve Jobs about his secretive access to the product (“I don’t call Steve, Steve calls me”) and suggested that Apple had “some explaining” to do about backdated stock options. When the story hit the Web, Jobs called Stengel to complain (as it happens, Apple is a major advertiser in Time, and Jobs is a good friend of Huey’s). Stengel reacted by immediately excising the offending paragraphs from the Web (they have since been restored). Then he had Grossman come into the office to rewrite part of the piece for the print edition. Grossman was infuriated.

“I feel bad about the whole episode on both sides,” Stengel now says, explaining that the flap resulted from a miscommunication. “I’ll take the blame in the sense that there was an understanding that I had with Steve, which I did not tell the writer and that was an oversight on my part.” The backdated-stock-options part of the story wasn’t eliminated, he argues, just moved into a sidebar that ran in the magazine. Still, Stengel concedes that it was a weak moment for the magazine’s journalism. “Maybe a little bit,” he says.

“An understanding that I had with Steve”? Wow. Why aren’t the usual media-watchers all over this aspect of the story? Romenesko didn’t even mention it
UPDATE: Not the first time TIME has cut a deal with Apple.

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