Following a dispute between The Walt Disney Company and the Los Angeles Times that resulted in Disney banning the newspaper from press screenings, Disney has officially overturned its decision. Disney came under immediate pressure from various media outlets, such as the A.V. Club and The New York Times, on the subject of freedom of the press, and Disney ultimately yielded.
The LA Times had been investigating Disney relationship with the city of Anaheim, CA (where Disneyland and California Adventure are located). As a result, Disney reacted defensively, claiming that the newspaper “showed a complete disregard for basic journalistic standards,” persuading the company to wipe their hands clean of any working relationship between themselves and the publication. The newspaper insisted that Disney never requested changes or corrections to the articles they had released, but Disney still remained steadfast in their decision. That said, the backlash has now persuaded Disney to overturn their decision.
In an official statement, according to The New York Times, Disney stated:
“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.”
Following Disney’s initial banning of the newspaper, and prior to their ultimate change of heart, various news outlets, as well as various celebrities, stood up in favor of The LA Times. Ava DuVernay (Selma), who directed the Disney adaptation of A Wrinkle in Time due out early next year, tweeted that she is standing with journalists, despite her personal connection to the company. The New York Times added:
“A powerful company punishing a news organization for a story they do not like is meant to have a chilling effect. This is a dangerous precedent and not at all in the public interest.”
Other news outlets were prepared to boycott Disney as a way to stand up for journalistic freedoms. Various critics organizations, including the National Society of Film Critics, the New York Film Critics Circle, the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, and the Boston Society of Film Critics, also joined the cause. The groups stood in firm support of The Los Angeles Times, threatening to disqualify Disney from potential award consideration. The groups joined to vote the decision into order if Disney refused to repeal the ban. The outrage ultimately gave Disney a change of heart.
Here is the official statement from the various critics groups who banded together, vowing to disqualify Disney from award recognition:
Source: The New York Times
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