Journalists Boycott Disney Films After L.A. Times Snub
The L.A. Times is currently barred from attending advance screenings of Disney movies.
On Monday, culture site The A.V. Club and entertainment site Flavorwire joined a Washington Post writer in pledging solidarity with the Los Angeles Times until Disney drops a temporary ban on access for the newspaper.
"The A.V. Club will follow The Washington Post’s lead and — effective immediately — we will refrain from attending any press screenings of Disney movies, at least until the company rescinds its ban on The Los Angeles Times," read a post by A.V. Club film editor A.A. Dowd.
The New York Times joined the boycott movement on Tuesday, saying in a statement that the company will not attend Disney preview screenings until the Los Angeles Times can too. "A powerful company punishing a news organization for a story they do not like is meant to have a chilling effect," the company said. "This is a dangerous precedent and not at all in the public interest."
The tiff came into public view on Friday, when the Times publicized the situation in a note to readers and Disney put out a statement accusing the newspaper of showing "a complete disregard for basic journalistic standards" in a recent series of stories about the company's business relationship with its home in Anaheim.
"For as long as Disney locks out the Los Angeles Times, this outlet will withhold the only thing we have of value to that studio: the free advertising provided by not only reviewing their films, but write-ups of their trailers, production announcements, casting rumors, and so on," Flavorwire film editor Jason Bailey wrote. "We will not cover any Disney releases, nor those of subsidiaries Marvel or Lucasfilm (no, not even that one) as long as the Times ban stands."
Alyssa Rosenberg, who writes about movies and television as a pop culture blogger for The Washington Post, announced that she won't attend screenings anymore. "As long as Disney is blocking the critics from the Los Angeles Times from press screenings, I can’t in good conscience attend similar showings or write reviews in advance," she wrote.
As a result, Rosenberg said she won't be writing about Disney movies until after they debut, which she called "a seemingly counter-intuitive decision," considering that journalists race to compete to get to the top of Google's search results by writing reviews as soon as possible.
"As a critic-at-large operating out of the opinion section, I have a large amount of leeway in deciding what to cover and when I cover it," Rosenberg said. "And what feels best to me is to show solidarity with the critics at the Los Angeles Times and to see movies under the same conditions that they do."
Boston Globe film critic Ty Burr on Monday told Business Insider that he will not attend any of Disney's advance screenings until its ban on the Times is lifted. "Whether we decide to review at all will be handled on a case by case basis," he added.
Asked on Monday whether other Washington Post journalists who cover Disney films have taken a similar stand, a spokeswoman said, "Our newsroom critics continue to cover their beats as they normally do."
Journalists have made other public gestures of support for the Times. "I just took out a subscription to the @LATimes in honor of Disney boycotting the newspaper because it engaged in journalism," CNN anchor Jake Tapper wrote on Twitter. "Join me!"
Nov. 6, 3:15 p.m. Updated with a statement from The A.V. Club.
Nov. 7, 11:15 a.m. Updated with a statement from The New York Times.