In the span of two days, Disney became the villain in its own story.
On September 24, the Los Angeles Times, published a three-piece article about Disney’s business ties with Anaheim. In the first piece, writer Daniel Miller described how, “the company has secured subsidies, incentives, rebates and protections from future taxes in Anaheim that, in aggregate, would be worth more than $1 billion.”
Now, just over a month after the article was published, Walt Disney Co. responded. “While we regularly work with news organizations around the world that [they] don’t always agree with…this instance the L.A. Times showed complete disregard for basic journalistic standards”
They also took the extra step to ban the LA Times from advance screenings. In a note published on their website, the LA Times explained to their readers that their annual Holiday Movie Sneaks section would be missing Disney films due to Disney declining to offer the screenings.
This ban however was not the only response. Disney also blocked some of the staffers from the LA Times from their press websites.
This ban can affect how soon the critics can review a movie. In doing so, Disney is almost guaranteeing that the LA Times’ pieces are lower down on Google search results.
Upon the news of the ban coming up, The New York Film Critics Circle, the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, the Boston Film Critics Association, and the National Society of Film Critics denounced Disney. In addition, they also voted to disqualify Disney’s films from consideration for end-of-the-year awards.
— LA Film Critics (@LAFilmCritics) November 7, 2017
In response to the backlash, Disney reversed its decision to bar the LA Times. In a statement by Disney, given to the The New York Times, “We’ve had productive discussions with the newly installed leadership at The Los Angeles Times regarding our specific concerns, and as a result, we’ve agreed to restore access to advance screenings for their film critics.”
Regardless of their latest statement, their actions left a bitter taste of what Disney represents. Disagreements with Disney’s move were industry-wide. Journalists spoke out against Disney for their actions via twitter and in their own pieces.
I just took out a subscription to the @LATimes in honor of Disney boycotting the newspaper because it engaged in journalism. Join me!
— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) November 6, 2017
Disney's action is a clear indication of how @RobertIger feels about journalism and a free press.
— Glenn Whipp (@GlennWhipp) November 3, 2017
— Emma Vigeland (@EmmaVigeland) November 6, 2017
However, this is not the first time Disney has taken retaliatory actions before. Representatives for the company have stated before that access to their company is “a privilege and not a right.”
Nevertheless, the sentiment that The New York Times put out remains the same through the industry. “A powerful company punishing a news organization for a story they do not like is mean to have a chilling effect. This is a dangerous precedent and not at all in the public interest.”