Disney cancels ban on working with LA Times


This happened a little bit faster than I expected, but that it would happen seemed inevitable. Facing a widespread media backlash, Disney announced today it will no longer block LA Times journalists from access to movies, screenings and cooperation on stories. Disney cited "productive discussions with the newly installed leadership at The Los Angeles Times regarding our specific concerns," so let's hope there is no hidden deal in play here.

Disney had banned Times entertainment journalists in a pique over wholly unrelated coverage of Disney's corporate financial and political relationship with the city of Anaheim, home of Disneyland. The ham-fisted blacklist brought tons more eyeballs to the original LAT series, which ran in September. caused the Times to publish its Sunday holiday movie sneaks issue without Disney films, which in turn led film critics around the country to say they would not pre-review Disney films as long as the LAT was blocked. The New York Times joined in the move to stop promoting Disney movies on the studio's schedule, the paper's story today says.

"A powerful company punishing a news organization for a story they do not like is meant to have a chilling effect," the New York Times said in a statement. "This is a dangerous precedent and not at all in the public interest."

From the NYT:

The company also faced pressure from several high-profile Hollywood figures, including Ava DuVernay, who directed “A Wrinkle in Time,” which is scheduled to be released by Disney on March 9.

“Saluting the film journalists standing up for one another,” Ms. DuVernay wrote on Twitter on Monday. “Standing with you.”

On Tuesday, members of the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, the New York Film Critics Circle, the Boston Society of Film Critics and the National Society of Film Critics denounced Disney’s blackout of The Times. Each group voted to disqualify Disney’s movies from year-end award consideration unless the blackout was “publicly rescinded.”

The messiness extended to critics such as Jim Romenesko, the retired media notes pioneer for Poynter, wondering how the controversy would get taught in classes at the USC journalism school, where the dean, willow Bay, is married to Disney chief Bob Iger.

I talked about Disney's attempt to influence the LA Times during this week's LA Observed segment on KCRW.

CNN anchor Jake Tapper was among the journalists who condemned Disney, adding that he had taken out a new subscription to support the LA Times.


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