What is the cost of being right?

Picture_8 The world is counting the hours until 12:01 am.  Why?  The final book in the Harry Potter series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows goes on sale and all the questions will be answered.

So until then…everyone is holding their breath.  Well, almost.

As you probably know, both the New York Times and the Baltimore Sun "legally" obtained copies of the book and issued reviews on Thursday — 48 hours before the book was to be officially released.  Both reviews gave away elements of the book's plot but neither told us whether or not Harry survives.  The book's author JK Rowlings is outraged that the newspapers saw fit to publish a review before the book's release.

This reminds me a bit of the Grinch sneaking the sucker out of Cindy Lou Who's chubby little fingers as she slept.  As I search the web today, I'm hard pressed to find someone defending the two paper's decision to publish their reviews.  The Washington Post was quick to point out that they are choosing to honor the book's embargo until Saturday at 12:01.

The New York Times and Baltimore Sun's stance is "hey, if we can get the book via legal means, we have the right to publish the review."

People have been flooding the Times and Sun with angry phone calls and e-mails.  So here's my question.

Why?  Imagine the editorial meeting at either paper.  Why would they think the pre-embargo review would be well received? Why not just prep the review and have it ready for the Saturday morning edition or even better…release a 12:01 am edition?

In my mind…this is as much a PR issue as a news issue.  If you had been around the decision-making table — what would you have recommended?

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