In case you missed Friday’s tweetstorm from Los Angeles Times writer Glenn Whipp, Disney banned the newspaper from pre-screening all Disney films, including its most recent release Thor: Ragnarock, which came out on November 3 in the U.S.
But, why? Disney KNOWS a huge population of people rely on the Los Angeles Times for movie reviews.
It turns out; the mass media giant wasn’t a fan of the LA Times’ critical coverage of Disney’s business dealings with the city of Anaheim. After a two-part investigative piece was published by the newspaper questioning the relationship between Disney and its hometown of Anaheim, Disney officially banned the LA Times from attending pre-screenings of Disney films, barring them from writing early movie reviews.
“…The L.A. Times showed a complete disregard for basic journalistic standards by moving forward with a biased and inaccurate series, wholly driven by a political agenda…”
This excerpt from Disney’s official statement sparked overwhelming backlash from media outlets across the nation. Even I, an avid Disneyland-goer and Disney pin-trader, was disappointed by its decision to “retaliate” (not a very magical move).
In addition to disqualifying Disney Films from their year-end awards, the following media outlets announced earlier this week that they would stand with the LA Times by boycotting Disney’s advanced screenings and not publishing Disney reviews before the films were out in theaters:
Director Ava DuVernay, whose film, A Wrinkle In Time, is being released by Disney in March 2018, also tweeted that she was “saluting the film journalists standing up for one another.”
“A powerful company punishing a news organization for a story they do not like is a dangerous precedent and not at all in the public interest,” stated the New York Times in a statement.
Immediately following the media “boycott” that quickly developed, Disney announced earlier this week that it would reverse its decision and lift the ban on the Los Angeles Times.
“We’ve had productive discussions with the newly installed leadership at the Los Angeles Times regarding our specific concerns,” Disney said in its follow-up statement. “As a result, we’ve agreed to restore access to advance screenings for their film critics.”
As PR pros, we engage with journalists all the time. Although we may not always agree with a certain article or viewpoint, our professional relationships don’t need to take a hit because of it. Let’s learn a lesson from Disney’s approach, and instead of retaliating in these situations, do our part to effectively communicate and find a resolution, which is what we PR people do best!