March 17th, 2006
Mr. Magill writes…

Dear Keri,
I owe you and Jeff Pitcher an apology.
I’ve heard from a few of your readers concerning the column I wrote attacking Adfreeblog.org. While the sentiments in the column were 100% honest, in retrospect I should have been more civilized in the delivery.
I attacked you and Jeff personally when I should have made the same point by sticking to the issue. I apologize to you both for that.
Some of your readers have written letters expressing their displeasure. I will urge my editor to run them without comment from me.
On a related point, you may be pleased to know that the column “This Owl Brays Like a Donkey” was chosen by an online journalism class as the “Bad Example” piece of writing for the week.
I am told I’ll have the critiques in my inbox in a week or two. If that isn’t karma, I don’t know what is.
Regards,
Ken Magill
PS: You can post this, or not. Whatever you choose.

karma indeed :)
thank you all for writing to direct mag and sharing your opinions. apparently they hit home.
my response:
Dear Ken,
Thank you very much for your apology. It is greatly appreciated. It may surprise you to know that I am not upset with you at all, though at first i did feel a little hurt by your words. I did not feel that they reflected me or Jeff (my husband) at all. It was brave of you to write.
sincerely,
keri (lower case “k”) smith

Mar 17 2006
4:44 pm
bohemiangirl writes:

wow.
*mouth dropped open*
you know…that was really quite brave and honorable of him.

Mar 17 2006
4:50 pm
rachael writes:

What a way to end the week! :)

Mar 17 2006
4:53 pm
bohemiangirl writes:

oh…and i forgot to say…
Karma indeed, YES!!!

Mar 17 2006
4:59 pm
chickengirl writes:

hahah! It goes to show when people unite and stand for something, it does make a difference :-)

Mar 17 2006
5:06 pm
Alexandra writes:

Anyone who can step back and reconsider what they’ve said-and then apologize if thats whats due- earns my respect. Wouldn’t it be nice if we all had the chance to dialogue and process from previously unresolved hurts?
p.s. Sorry to have called you a “prick” Ken!(That was sort of hypocritical of me to do that in the first place!)

Mar 17 2006
5:10 pm
Sarah Pezdek-Smith writes:

Wow! I just read the article for the first time…how nasty! Looks like karma is catching up to him though :)

Mar 17 2006
5:50 pm
anon writes:

This is such a great example of holding true to your instincts, not stooping, and being gracious (when it was much, much easier to react and do all things opposite). Good for you.

Mar 17 2006
6:05 pm
eden writes:

That was the right thing to do and well-handled by you also.
I’m not surprised about the bad journalism thing. It was like a first-draft editorial, the kind of thing that an editor should have sent back on first glance.
In any case, good on ya ;)

Mar 17 2006
6:06 pm
kristine writes:

Graceful response to him… I respect you even more for that.

Mar 17 2006
7:03 pm
herhimnbryn writes:

keri,
I have just caught up with all your latest posts. I send you my best wishes and congratulations. Once again you have shown that ” to thine own self be true” is a life maxim for us all.

Mar 17 2006
7:17 pm
Jennifer writes:

And in you simplistic, honest, lower case reply you expose the reason I will click through to your site via my bloglines account every single day, update or not. And, now that I know it, your lovely husband’s, too.
Brilliant.
Much love and respect, from Raleigh, NC.

Mar 17 2006
7:18 pm
Michelle writes:

Yay, for Keri for standing in your truth!
Yay, for Ken for taking the high road!
And yay for us, for being privy to this exchange!

Mar 17 2006
10:30 pm
Maryann writes:

Wow! I am so inpressed–by Ken’s response to you (I agree–It was brave and amazing of him!) and by yours to him!! Thank you for posting all of it!!!!

Mar 17 2006
10:43 pm
soren writes:

rock ON!

Mar 18 2006
1:44 am
liz elayne writes:

i checked in not expecting that you would have posted an update but wanted to see…and here i am chuckling at your karma indeed statement. yes, yes, yes. wow. i have to admit that i love when things comes full circle like this.
such grace in your response. love it.

Mar 18 2006
8:49 am
schmutzie writes:

This goes along with my theory that we should always expect that people can surprise us with either cruelty or kindness. His letter to you is lovely — honest, straightforward, and sincere.

Mar 18 2006
10:22 am
andrea from the fishbowl writes:

Wow. I just read the article.
His “article” is incredibly mean-spirited. And I find it amazing that he seemed to think that only advertising can give a personal blog its perceived “worth.”
I think your reply to his email was great.

Mar 18 2006
2:57 pm
susanna writes:

Well, we all make mistakes. It was good of him to apology to you and good of you to accept his apology so graciously.

Mar 18 2006
4:59 pm
MARYBETH writes:

Well…well…well… I want to know what journalism class voted his column as the Worst!
(((STANDING OVATION FOR THEM)))
It is always good to inspire and encourage the up and coming writers of the world to remember that EVERY SINGLE WORD WE SAY OR WRITE HAS POWER.
Kudos to the editor for responding to the letters and insisting on an immediate response. Im gonna hop on over and share that with him.
((hugs to you and your hubby))
MB

Mar 18 2006
8:55 pm
karma ken writes:

Hmm..this is so strange to me. I just find it disturbing. And I don’t like that he’s getting attention because he wrote something bad about you. I do understand why you’d include it in your blog though. It’s something that happened and worth mentioning. At least he said he should have been more civilized and stuck to the point, but if he were to have done that there wouldn’t have been an article at all.
Ken, if you’re reading this, RE-EVALUATE YOUR WORLDVIEW!!!! And remember, half-assed apologies don’t erase insults.

Mar 19 2006
8:28 am
Lara writes:

Freedom of speech in the media may be a good thing, but it is not a God- given right to vent their views and feelings with in such a personal manner. I am sad that this article has given this man such exposure, he does not deserve it.
You keep doing what you do- its inspiring and uplifting, and gave me lots to smile at during some very dark days last year. Go Keri!

Mar 19 2006
10:58 am
Leslie writes:

Here’s what I posted as a response for the editor. couldn’t help it…
I was so disappointed that your company chose to publish a piece so riddled with venom and ridiculous misappropriated focus. Please publish a list of all your products and services so we can all know what never to buy again.
Leslie

Mar 20 2006
3:50 am
cat writes:

While I realize “opinion” pieces are just that – OPINIONS – I do feel there’s a line between expressing one’s self and plain inflammatory rhetoric. I’m quite pleased to see Ken realized he crossed that line in his recent piece. More impressive though is your refusal to allow such machinations to take up residence and poison YOUR spirit. Bravo lover-case-k keri! :)

Mar 20 2006
12:03 pm
brightness writes:

karma is a beautiful thing!

Mar 20 2006
1:08 pm
tracy writes:

whooo hooo! sweet!!

Mar 20 2006
1:20 pm
Marilyn Scott-Waters writes:

Keri! Hello!
Wow! I read the article and my eyes got very big! What a mean spirited thing to write! How awful!
Anyone can be a critic but it takes a very brave person to actually create something and put it out where the world can see it.
I just went through the battle of the ads myself and a blog reader sent me to your site. So thank you for setting a good example and being an encouragement.
I get a huge amount of traffic on my website and some months bandwidth cost as much as a car payment. So after hearing about the big stacks of money that Google Ads bring in I put up ads all over my site. I left them up for long enough to learn two things. One is that I could make a good chunk of money having ads on my site and two, that I had no control over the content of the ads. I’ve worked really hard to make my website of paper toys a safe place for kids to visit and it was a gone in a day. There were some ads that I didn’t like and so they had to go (as much as the fat check would have been nice.)
I may sell ad space on my website but if I do I’ll hand pick the advertisers.
Anyway, throwing rose petals at your feet,
Keep using your superpowers for good,
Marilyn.
http://www.thetoymaker.com/
“Abrideri et Oblectare”
“To Amuse and Delight”
http://www.livejournal.com/users/thetoymaker/

Mar 20 2006
3:39 pm
pixie writes:

i’d not read his shitty piece until today. he writes like some unfulfilled asshole! i don’t even know what to think about it all. i guess i’m glad he apologized, wish he would have preyed on someone else, and didn’t write like such a negative dirty bastard. but, what’re you gonna do? people like this must go home to a quiet, empty, miserable home. nice and presumptuous of me, i know. gut reactions can be like that!!! f&^k*r!!!

Mar 20 2006
6:12 pm
Ali writes:

That is cool.

Mar 20 2006
8:02 pm
tiffany writes:

Keri,
Though I appreciate his apology, I don’t understand the hostility he directed at you, your husband and your beautiful website. I like what you wrote in response to him and your thoughts about the experience. It is notable that you responded from a place of compassion and peace, and truly exceptional that you used this experience as an opportunity to learn about yourself. As I’ve come to see from your authentic writing and illustrations, you are a unique and talented artist and writer. Your blog is one of the few places I go to everyday as I don’t spend a lot of time on-line. I like it so much that I linked it to my own site about artistic inspiration. (http://www.tiffanynoel.blogspot.com. Hope you don’t mind, but I wanted my friends so see what a wonderful place you have created.
Cheers!
Tiffany
Ps…I just read your book recently and LOVED it!

Mar 21 2006
3:02 am
Oaki writes:

I don’t understand what the fuss is about. The piece was so poorly written I didn’t give it the time of day….until it garnished the attention on this site. Just letting you know I knew of it and subsequently walked away from it because this sort of thing happens all the time online and most people see it for what it is: pure drivel.
On the flipside, karma does work in mysterious ways. Perhaps this was meant for you in order to see what was hidden from view.
Either way, he had his storm and you have your teacup ;)

Mar 21 2006
10:15 am
kistyn writes:

i just received my period charts yesterday!!! one for me and one for my roommate… they say that if you live with someone, you’ll get on the same cycle. i think this is true even though there’s no scientific proof.
thanks for the quick delivery! amazon delivered your book on the same day. i’m rockin keri-style! LOL
kistyn (charlotte, nc)

Mar 22 2006
5:00 pm
Anne writes:

Hi, Keri,
I’m belatedly catching up on your blog and l’affaire Magill. I laughed out loud when I read that his article had been chosen as the week’s “Bad Example” by a journalism class. I scanned it and agree that Magill broke almost evey rule of good journalism, starting with avoiding ad hominem attacks. The article says far more about him than it does about you and Jeff. I do have to wonder, with some of your other correspondents, why he’s so threatened by the idea of ad-free blogs. Maybe he’s afraid they’ll catch on? Actually, I suspect direct marketers are so hated and reviled that Magill’s was a knee-jerk reaction to something he read as an implicit attack on his livelihood, about which he is clearly uneasy. He reminds me of the tobacco-promoting cigarette character “Mr. Butts” in Doonesbury years ago, who alternately swaggered and lashed out. Still, Magill had the grace to apologize to you, so perhaps there’s hope for him yet.

Mar 30 2006
11:23 pm
Shaun G writes:

I know I’m jumping on this really late, but I’d like to take my best shot at defending the core argument that Mr. Magill tried to make.
You say, in a defense of your Ad-Free Blog movement, that you consider it a way to “draw a line” around certain areas of your life (i.e. your blog) where you don’t want corporate advertising creeping in. Indeed, you make a convincing argument that it is perfectly reasonable (and not necessarily inconsistent) to not only make a living by working for such corporations, but to directly contribute to their advertising, and yet to still insist that there are some areas in one’s life that one wishes to keep free from those influences.
The thing that strikes me about the Ad-Free Blog campaign itself, though, is the arbitrariness of turning this specific instance of your “drawing a line” for yourself into a categorical imperative, namely that you are opposed to the use of corporate advertising on all blogs, not just your own. The implication, of course, is that you think the place where you have drawn your own line is the appropriate place for everyone else to draw their lines.
It’s like if I were to decide that giving up chocolate ice cream for Lent is a good way for me to become more conscious of the notion of sacrifice — and then to make the sweeping generalization that all people everywhere should oppose the eating of chocolate ice cream during Lent, as if the act itself were inherently bad.
In the case of your Ad-Free Blog movement, the underlying rationale — that people shouldn’t be bombarded with advertising everywhere they go — is defensible, but isn’t it just as consistent with that principle to draw a line somewhere else? Heck, isn’t it just as consistent with that principle to draw a mirror image of the keri smith line? In other words, if a person says, “I oppose corporate advertising in magazines and newspapers — that’s where *I* draw the line — but ads on blogs are fine,” isn’t he also legitimately opposing the same corporate bombardment that you are? (One might even argue that — since bloggers usually have more of a direct share in the profits from ads on their blogs than most newspaper or magazine writers have in the profits of the often-very-corporate publishing company they work for — such a position is even more appropriate than pushing for Ad-Free Blogs.)
Taking all of this into account, I would suggest that your Ad-Free Blog Declaration of Principles would be better framed as a positive statement — e.g. “I support setting appropriate personal limits on the extent to which I immerse myself in corporate advertising, and having an ad-free blog is one way to do that” — rather than a sweeping negative statement — i.e. “I oppose the use of corporate advertising on blogs.”


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