After the Los Angeles Times ran two stories on Walt Disney Co.’s business ties with the city of Anaheim, California in September of 2017, Disney revoked the newspaper from accessing all press screenings, the ABC press site, and other media events concerning Disney. The articles talk about how the city of Anaheim paid for Disneyland’s huge parking garage and how the money generated from the parking garage is going to Walt Disney Co. and the city of Anaheim as well as how an election changed the relationship between Anaheim and Disneyland. Disney thought this series of articles was “unfair,” creating the ban of the LA Times.
What kind of professionalism is Disney portraying here? To me, it sounds more like a little kid getting his feelings hurt by someone and then disinviting them to their birthday party.
In retaliation of Disney’s ban, several other media outlets decided to boycott Disney screenings; in fact, four major critics’ organizations voted to disqualify Disney’s films from year-end awards unless they lifted the ban on the LA Times. Once Disney realized this (literally that same day), they ultimately made the decision to revoke the ban on the LA Times. Nice save there Disney.
After consulting with the LA Times, Disney announced that, “regarding our specific concerns … as a result, we’ve agreed to restore access to advance screenings for their film critics.” The thing that’s especially strange is that there was no other word about the LA Times series on Disney and Anaheim… So did Disney just forget why they banned the LA Times? Or was there something more going on? Or did Disney just feel bullied?
This is not the time for corporations to be banning journalists. As it is, journalists are mostly just berated all over the place for fake news – even if it isn’t. Journalists are good people, and that was definitely shown when the New York Times and the A.V. Club (just to name a couple) decided to boycott any advance screenings of Disney films. Those journalists were standing up for the basic rights all journalists are supposed to have. Alyssa Rosenburg, critic from the Washington Post, added her two cents in on the subject by saying, “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, adding: “I like a lot of movies that come out of the Disney corporate behemoth … but I like journalistic independence from corporate influence more.”
Honestly the press ban was just a pure act of wanting revenge. It was an act of pure childish vengeance. The thing is though, what the LA Times did was nothing wrong. It was an investigative piece on how Disney and Anaheim have extremely close business ties. There must be something else going on for Disney to have reacted the way they did, but then again maybe there isn’t. Hopefully, the most magical place on earth can grow up a little and be able to take articles written about them with more maturity, instead of throwing a fit.