New York post fires reporter for story on Disney ...
March 20, 2002 9:12 AM   Subscribe

New York post fires reporter for story on Disney ... but publishes no corrections ...
posted by magullo (14 comments total)

 
A journalist has no right to bite the hand that feeds her. Let her run her own damn paper. Then she can print whatever she wants.

With that being said, the editor who let it get through to print in the first place probably should have taken the fall as well.
posted by pjdoland at 9:32 AM on March 20, 2002


A journalist has no right to bite the hand that feeds her.

What about informing the public of actual news? The Smoking Gun (.com) could have just as easily broken this story by leafing through court papers. The "hand that feeds" in this case is the leader of the parent global company of the newspaper she worked at is friends with the higher ups at another global company. Not exactly a fair way to control the news if you ask me, but then this story is just one of the many things we'll see as consolidation in media continues.

Let her run her own damn paper. Then she can print whatever she wants.

Thank god for the web
posted by mathowie at 9:42 AM on March 20, 2002


when there are only 3 or 4 "hands that feed" all journalists, and all 4 of them are in partnership would you still say we have no right to accurate information about those companies?
posted by rhyax at 9:59 AM on March 20, 2002


A journalist has no right to bite the hand that feeds her

The hand that fed her was the Post, not Disney. Different companies. She had every right to submit her story to the Post's editors, and the editors had every right to reject it. They didn't. They determined the story was news. Now she's the scapegoat.
posted by neuroshred at 9:59 AM on March 20, 2002


It seems you have a point. They probably should have fired the editor too.

You can't expect a business (and newspapers are, in point of fact, generally businesses) to subsidize and provide a platform for their own criticism.

Take it to the web, or to a competitor who might be more than happy to print it.
posted by pjdoland at 10:42 AM on March 20, 2002


Disney is one of those new-fangled monsters known as "media conglomerates". They are also notoriously litigious -- the era of "kindly old Walt" died with the man himself. Disney is as venal and rapacious as they come, and that's saying something in this day and age.

Carl Hiaasen has written extensively of Disney's more nefarious activities over the years.
posted by mrmanley at 10:48 AM on March 20, 2002


You can't expect a business (and newspapers are, in point of fact, generally businesses) to subsidize and provide a platform for their own criticism.

The paper's parent company is owned by Fox, who isn't implicated in the alleged destroying of documents, Fox is merely trying to please another media conglomorate Disney for future hopes of working together. This isn't a case of a reporter off on some subsidiary holding decrying the practices of its own parent company, this is Rupert Murdoch at Fox calling in a favor for his pal Michael Eisner at Disney

When a handful of corporations control the better part of media, the objectiveness of news reporting is entirely lost.
posted by mathowie at 11:05 AM on March 20, 2002


How much of the spin came from Finke and how much from her editors? Finke's attorneys say the Post asked her to investigate the newly released court documents, which formed the basis of her reporting. But after she filed the stories, they say, unnamed editors made adds and cuts to her text that she never saw or approved.

The whole damn paper should be fired. Believe the article when it talks about the Post's editing process. The relationship there between what a reporter turns in and what makes it to the paper is so remote that the reporter is more of a researcher than a reporter. Just like the old days: call in the facts and let someone on the copy desk put the story together. The rewrite desk is alive and well. The Post's process is the most efficient way to guarantee the content of a newspaper takes a monolithic viewpoint on the news.
posted by Mo Nickels at 11:11 AM on March 20, 2002


sources say business editor Elsen was pleased with her [Finke's] work and twice offered her a job on staff .... after giving Finke the assignment to write about the Pooh contract dispute, Elsen turned one of her two stories over to the news desk ...

She may have been a freelancer, but she was assigned this story. This isn't a case of someone biting the hand that feeds them -- quite the contrary. This is a case of someone doing what they were told to do, and then getting shitcanned for doing it.
posted by Shadowkeeper at 11:13 AM on March 20, 2002


Surprise, surprise, not the first time the Murdoch Empire has done something like this.
posted by hincandenza at 11:55 AM on March 20, 2002


I know this is the post we're talking about here, so maybe I shouldn't mention journalistic integrity. But, ahem, the mission of most newspapers is to provide relatively unbiased information on topics that are relevant to society, government, etc.
Good newspapers take potential conflicts of interest very seriously. Papers like the Washington Post, the New York Times, the LA Times face justified criticism when they fail to disclose conflicts of interest in there reporting. This means that an opinion article written by someone with a vested interest in a particular point of view should include a disclaimer about that person's background. It also means that when a newspaper reports on anything having to do with its subsidiaries or its parent company, it should make this information known to the reader and it should still endeavor to provide unbiased reporting. In real life newspapers, biases are unavoidable. The Wall Street Journal is not about to start publishing articles saying "hey maybe these socialists are on to something." The Washington Times is not going to choose to put a scandal involving a republican on the front page over a scandal involving a democrat. And we're all familiar with accusations of liberal media bias. Despite these biases, however, most reporters and editors I have known still endeavor to acheive some level of integrity. When this journalist was fired because she didn't shill for her corporate masters, the post proved yet again that it is many things, but a credible source of news is not one of them.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 12:09 PM on March 20, 2002


Kindly old Walt was never any such thing. He was front and center at McCarthy's House Unamerican Activities Committee extravaganza, union-busted with the best of them, and royally screwed Florida harder than you can imagine regarding political control of the Disney World region.
posted by NortonDC at 12:35 PM on March 20, 2002


I know this is the post we're talking about here, so maybe I shouldn't mention journalistic integrity. But, ahem, the mission of most newspapers is to provide relatively unbiased information on topics that are relevant to society, government, etc.

I agree this *should* be the goal of newspapers, but you've got to remember two things: 1) News objectivity is a relatively recent idea. 2) Most newspapers in the world do not operate this way, nor see a need to.

American newspapers' attempts to claim objectivity have, in fact, backfired over time, turning the public against them when the papers cannot achieve a goal which turned out to be impossible. Objectivity, I repeat, is impossible, and as much as I despise the New York Post, the best that can be said about its editorial policies and biases is that they are generally *known* and, therefore, can be filtered for. There's also no such thing as "nearly objective," so forget that as an acceptable substitute.

What a paper should strive for instead of objectivity, in my opinion, is verifiable fact. No anonymous sources. At least two sources for every potentially debatable bit of information. Longer headlines to prevent that short-circuiting of truth that happens when trying to cram a complicated concept in a tiny space. More subheads, too, that are readable from a newsbox or newsstand. Lots of cites and documentation: the details on URLs, bibliographies, government agencies and conduits which were used for the story and can be used by the reader for more information. (We should never see a news story that mentions a web site but never gives the web site address, for example, or mentions a book without giving the publisher information). I've got more ideas on the subject of the next generation newspaper, but that is for another day.
posted by Mo Nickels at 1:11 PM on March 20, 2002


What a paper should strive for instead of objectivity, in my opinion, is verifiable fact.

You need a higher standard than that, though -- something along the lines of providing the whole story. Simply selecting the facts you report leaves plenty room for promoting your own bias.

Given that hardly any news stories are likely to report the whole truth, however, the best a publication can do, I think, is strive for it and at the same time openly declare its own views on the subject, so that, as Mo says, they can be filtered for.
posted by mattpfeff at 3:36 PM on March 20, 2002


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