OLD Media Moves

Hollywood Reporter faces questions about ownership interference in coverage

May 12, 2020

Posted by Chris Roush

Alex Bhattacharji of Los Angeles Magazine examines The Hollywood Reporter, an industry publication that has drawn criticism for editorial interference by its owners.

Bhattacharji writes, “The troubles at THR exposed the reality faced by all media outlets that cover the industry. The publications survive thanks to the ad dollars of the companies they cover; their writers depend on show business executives as sources. Studios and the trades ‘need and feed each other—maintaining editorial integrity is a delicate balance,’ says one high-ranking insider who’s worked at multiple trades. ‘An outsider coming into this can end up being a bull in a china shop. You have to appreciate the nuance.’

“MRC’s recent staff cuts purged the magazine of some of its most prolific writers. Valence insists the cuts were spurred solely by bottom-line concerns. Aggressive reporting is time-consuming and costly. Complicating any reckoning, insiders say, is the fact Valence offered free advertising to MRC and partners—including numerous pages to Lionsgate during awards season to promote Knives Out. According to sources close to the company, MRC execs would dangle the promise of free advertising to help close production and distribution deals, like a gift with purchase (sources at MRC deny this.)

“More troubling than their attempts to tame THR is the possibility its parent company might point the magazine’s fangs at its corporate rivals and foes. Wiczyk has previously pushed information to editors that could be seen as an effort to drive negative coverage. Notably he gave staff detailed, highly academic presentations about Netflix’s lack of transparency in the platform’s viewership reporting.”

Read more here.

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