Career highlights include helping create computer journalism market and instilling it with deep editorial integrity.
May 20, 2004— In selecting Patrick J. McGovern as ASBPE’s 2004 Lifetime Achievement Award winner, the Society focuses on the extremes of what can happen when magazine editors approach their careers with foresight, hard work, an entrepreneurial spirit, and a sense for what the world needs from journalism.
Indeed, a look at the accomplishments of his 45 years in the business mark McGovern as perhaps the founding editor of the entire information-technology media industry. For in 1959, while a biophysics student at MIT, McGovern became associate editor of Computers and Automation, the very first entry in that strange new genre called “computer magazines.”
McGovern award presentation set for June 10
Patrick McGovern, founder and chairman of International Data Group (IDG), will be presented with ASBPE’s 2004 Lifetime Achievement Award during the Society’s June 10 Eastern Regional Awards of Excellence ceremony at the Holiday Inn Boston-Newton, Newton, Mass.
And just five years later, he founded International Data Corp. (IDC), today a subsidiary of the media giant he later established, International Data Group (IDG). Today, IDC remains the standard of IT research globally.
Magazines Around the Globe
“His deep roots as an editor are also what ASBPE honors him for this year,” said ASBPE national president Rob Freedman, senior editor of Realtor magazine. “And not just any editor, but one from whose work grew literally thousands of new editorial positions globally.”
In 1967, McGovern launched a little trade weekly called Computerworld, dedicated to informing the relative handful of entities then working with the still-largely-unfamiliar devices. The weekly became the flagship of an IDG powerhouse whose titles have grown to include Macworld, Network World, CIO, CSO, Bio-T World, and PC World.
In 1972, McGovern began exporting the Computerworld concept, launching Shukan Computer in Japan and bringing to life among magazines the concept of “think globally but act locally.”
And that was only the start.
McGovern has overseen IDG’s launch of more than 300 magazines and newspapers in 85 countries. In 1980, he established the first joint venture between a U.S. company and the People’s Republic of China. Today, IDG has more than 20 publications in China, the globe’s fastest growing IT market.
When naming him CEO of its 1989 constellation of “Start-Up All-Stars,” Inc. magazine said: “Knows start-ups cold. Grows them by launching them constantly within his own company. Craves customer contact, responsiveness, speed. More than any other CEO around, McGovern gets it: Preach the mission, provide information, give folks plenty of rope — then get out of the way.”
Getting Tough With Oracle
Editorial integrity isn’t just lip-service to McGovern; it’s part of an ethical way of life, as well as a smart business decision. McGovern encourages editors and writers to put their readers’ needs first — making him an ideal owner in the eyes of the journalists who work for him.
Said Computerworld editor-in-chief Maryfran Johnson: “I’ve experienced that support first-hand in a clash a few years ago with Oracle Corp., which withdrew its advertising from Computerworld in response to some balanced but critical stories quoting angry Oracle customers. A significant amount of revenue was involved, yet Pat’s response was to send me a personal memo of congratulations for keeping our readers’ interests foremost and not bowing to advertiser pressure.”
This corporate environment has even allowed Johnson herself to receive a national award for her editorial integrity from American Business Media.
“Even when advertisers are angered by our coverage, as long as the story is fair, accurate and balanced,” Johnson said, McGovern is an editor’s biggest supporter. “His support of journalistic ethics across all of the IDG publications means that each business unit CEO also understands the importance of that church-state separation between editorial and advertising.”
“He also treats his end customers [the readers] with consummate respect,” wrote Leigh Buchanan, senior editor, Harvard Business Review, in an April 2004 article for Inc. magazine. “At IDG the quality of content is sacrosanct, a tough ideal to sustain when advertising pays so many of the bills.”
In fact, IDG publications have won more than 125 national editorial and design excellence awards from ASBPE from 1999–2003.
Another example of editorial support is one of the more interesting programs at the company, the IDG News Service. This internal newswire links more than 1,000 IDG editors and journalists and distributes news, features, commentary, and other editorial resources to IDG publications so they can supplement local coverage with material applicable to audiences throughout the world.
Is it any wonder Fortune magazine earlier this year named IDG one of the “100 Best Companies to Work For” in its annual survey, a position the company has held every year since 2001? The results are mostly based on an opinion survey Fortune randomly sends to employees.
Today, IDG has become the world’s leading technology media, research, and event company, with annual revenues exceeding $2.4 billion. More than 100 million people read at least one of IDG’s publications monthly. There are 400 IDG Web sites in 80 nations. More than 170 globally branded conferences and events are held each year on five continents. (Look out, Antarctica!)
In nominating McGovern, Johnson called him one of the “heroes of the information technology age.”
While it’s been decades now since he first made grease-pencil scrawls on copy paper, she notes “he put out the first issue of CW virtually single-handed,” then worked with a handful of others to build it to prominence. “He ran proofs to the printer. He edited stories. He interviewed industry figures.”
And if he didn’t stay in the editing trenches as long as some others, she added, it was because “he was off creating the IT publishing industry after that.”
“But to this day,” she said, “if you ask him what he would have been if he hadn’t been a businessman, he’ll tell you ‘a journalist.’ In his heart, he’s always been one of us.”
IDG mission and corporate values
To enhance the quality of human life by being the world’s leading source of information on technology.
“Since 1964 we have focused on building an organization that is a rewarding place to work and that meets customer requirements,” said Patrick McGovern, founder and chairman, International Data Group. He said IDG operates via the following corporate values:
- To remain dedicated to our mission of providing exceptional services on information technology.
- To show respect for dignity of each individual.
- To invest in our people through training and career development.
- To produce products of the highest quality.
- To provide excellent customer service.
- To keep close to our customers and qualified prospects.
- To be responsive to changes in the marketplace.
- To keep our corporate staff lean.
- To encourage autonomy through locally managed business units.
- To foster an action-oriented, let’s-try-it attitude.