In the Battle of Disney vs. The Press, The Press Won

Headline from LA Times about Disney and Anaheim.As I mentioned in yesterday’s blog post, Disney recently entered into an ill-advised battle with the Los Angeles Times because the media conglomerate didn’t like how the newspaper was covering the company’s business relationships with the city of Anaheim.

Disney (aka The Mouse) retaliated against the paper by banning LA Times critics from attending the studio’s movie press screenings. (These screenings are so critics can publish reviews on the day that movies are released.)

But this afternoon Disney backed off from that ban after  movie critics and pop culture writers across the country responded by standing with the Times, refusing to attend early screenings or consider Disney movies for end-of-the-year awards until the ban was lifted.

The Walt Disney Company, in a statement, said:

“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.”

The company said nothing about responding to pressure from the press across the country.

Among the early writers to stand up for the LA Times was Washington Post  pop culture blogger Alyssa Rosenberg:

As Rosenberg later emphasized, this was her decision alone, not that of the Washington Post as a paper.

But Rosenberg wasn’t standing alone in her support of the LA Times. Joining in the boycott were The A.V. Club and the New York Times. Four of the big critics groups also announced they would not consider any Disney films for their annual awards if the LA Times ban stood:

And then the Television Critics Association weighed in with criticism of Disney as well.

All of this only served to promote the story about Disney’s sweetheart relationship with Anaheim that the media conglomerate so desperately wanted suppressed.  But this, of course, is among the first lessons in public relations – Don’t give the press an excuse to write about the story you want to go away.  As Vox’s Todd VanDerWerff tweeted:

Or as Variety’s television critic Mo Ryan wrote:

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