Elizabeth Spiers wrote this about the nexus between media, journalism and advertising. Great piece, go read. I think this bit applies across the board, whether you’re a media publication, a big brand or a startup:
And it will not matter to the people screaming at you that you’re doing your job, and you’re doing it ethically and well, because in their view, it’s simply your job to deliver what they want regardless of whether it’s true or fair. This is an occupational hazard and the only way to escape it is to get out of journalism.
Eventually these sort of conflicts make their way up the masthead. The owner gets those same phone calls, emails and in-person confrontations. At which point, they have two choices, assuming the story is in fact accurate and fair: they can support the journalism of the publication they own, or they can throw you under the bus to make their own lives easier. Not surprisingly, the latter is a great way to lose the support of the newsroom and possibly end up with a raft of resignations.
If you want to keep the best people, let them do good work and stand up for it. That’s all there is to it. Easier said than done, of course…