Variety “Boycott” – Follow up

Hey there guys. First of all, if you haven’t already, I’d suggest reading THIS POST before reading this one so that you understand the context. In short, Variety has been caught several times getting stories from other websites that broke them, reported on the story then themselves and have never acknowledged where they got the story from let alone provided a link back to the originating source. These are common practices for websites to engage in. As a result, many of the major online movies sites have decided to stop linking to, and in some cases crediting Variety until they start doing the same. I agree.

Now, I’m posting this follow up because of some common objections I’ve seen popping up, and I thought instead of just posting these in the comments area and have to answer the same questions 50 times (seriously folks… read through comments to see if a question you have has already been answered :) ), I thought I’d do this follow up post to address them and explain why I don’t consider the objections valid and decided to join with the other websites in this “action”.

Point #1: “But John, Variety isn’t like a blog. They have paid staff that go out and get stories”
True… but totally irrelevant. Do you not think that ComingSoon has paid staff? CHUD? Collider? IESB? Many many movies news sites have paid staffs that they fly out to cover junkets, roundtable interviews and to break stories. Yes, Variety is bigger… but the principle is the same. Being “bigger” doesn’t pardon you from acting with common sense.

Point #2: “But John, don’t you think other websites have done the same thing to Variety before?”
Absolutely. But all movie websites are not 1 entity. Collider has NEVER taken a story from Variety in the past without credit. Nor has CHUD, nor has IESB etc. etc. And TRUST ME… the online community does discuss this when other sites do the same thing (just see this post by Devin at CHUD. I don’t necessarily agree with everything he says in the article, but it shows you that this is not only something the online community deals with when it’s Variety.)

Point #3: “But John, Variety gets most of the stories out there. Shouldn’t they be given some special treatment for that?”
NO! The fact that they are the biggest only makes it more important that they CREDIT WHERE THEY GOT STORIES FROM if it didn’t just originate with themselves. ALSO… have you ever heard of CNN? The New York Times? The USA Today? I often read on their sites stories that begin with something like this:

“KBLA in Los Angeles is reporting today that…”

Or something else along those lines. CNN will give links at times too. If they can do it… why can’t Variety?

Point #4: Times have changed, news breaks all over the place now
Variety is no longer the defacto source for all movie news anymore. Now, much of the news variety gets they get at the same time as many online sites that attend the same junkets and roundtables as they do. Many online sites talk and are in communication with the same Press Relations people that Variety communicates with and news stories now often get “broke” through online channels (wich Variety then just takes and doesn’t credit anyway). Yes, Variety is still the biggest player in the game… but if variety were to disappear over night, the movie news would still get out there… because times have changed. Don’t believe it? Go look up Variety’s circulation and subscription numbers. Hell, Robert at IESB breaks some of the biggest stuff.

Point #5: Only doing what Variety is doing
Please keep in mind that the movie sites that are taking this “action” are only doing what Variety is doing. No more, no less. Variety is finding stories through other online movie news sites, printing their own version of it, and refusing to acknowledge or give credit to where they got the story from let alone give a link. Ok. Then if that’s all the online community does back… is that not fair? In principle, Variety is saying “giving credit or links is unnecessary”, then they should have no problems with others not giving credit or links. It’s a simple principle.

In the end, this is juat a matter of Variety saying “we think things should be done this way” and then other online sites saying “Ok, then we’ll do things that way for you”.

Point #6: “But John, you don’t really expect this to accomplish anything do you?”
Anyone who understand how the web works, and the value of thousands of monthly incoming links and millions of incoming hits per month from those links would never ask that question. However… even if this fails to make Variety budge on its position, it doesn’t matter. It takes zero effort to not put in a link to variety on a story. This is just a matter of fairness. If Variety insists on being an online site that doesn’t credit or link, then other sites are completely justified in to doing the same in return. It’s not a matter of quantity, it’s a matter of principle.

Look, I certainly don’t hate Variety… as a matter of fact i didn’t really support this “action” by the sites at first. However, Variety has to act with a certain level of online decency. If someone else puts in the effort, pays the expense and breaks a news story with their work, then you acknowledge it and not pass it off as your own. This isn’t an advanced concept. This isn’t some rule we just made up… it’s just common decency and common sense.

Personally, I think Variety is just fearful of their declining readership and the emergence of the online world and refuse to do anything that might acknowledge that the world is changing around them… but that’s just my opinion.

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12 thoughts on “Variety “Boycott” – Follow up

  1. It’s HORRIBLE that ANY journalist or media outlet would engage in illegal copyright violation and PLAGIARISM then be so damn dismissive about it. I guess Variety believes y’all can’t get a firm to take this on a win contingency basis therefore they’re safe from any measureable civil damages. I wish that someone had the green to push this into motions and proceedings and drag it out long enough for Variety and its parent corp to be hurt. I recall the good ol’ days of Fox legal sending cease and decist (sp?- sheesh)letters to any site that had content even remotely considered theirs. *sigh* Anyway, I guess I prefer legal action, presumably very public legal action, however costly it may be, to boycotts.

  2. The cliche in main stream media is that all blogs do bad reporting and just ripe off mainstream media stories without giving credit. They would in a sense be living out the cliche. Also, I think that John should try to be above these guys and not wallow in the mud with these Variety clowns

  3. “so that at the end you are left blameless”

    Why should they care if they’re blamed or not? It’s not illegal, they can’t get in any trouble from doing this. I fail to see your point.

  4. Rodney, I have to say I respect you. I think its kind of a bad idea to go out and simply to do others what they are doing to you. In the end it can’t go well. You guys in this time need to act in a manner that is above what Variety is doing, so that at the end you are left blameless. Don’t just prove the point that all blogs don’t give credit. Also, if Variety wants to keep up the illusion that they are the only relevant source. I think you need to show everyone just how irrelevant they really are.

  5. i read a very popular gossip site. and they have complained constantly that people magazine, cnn and other majors, when reporting the stories that they break do not give credit. so on my part i am inclined to believe that the majors, all have this rule about unaffiliated websites. for the record people now, gives credit i guess boycotting and telling everyone worked for this other website. and i hope it works for you.

  6. Thanks for answering my question in the other thread John. I did honestly feel that maybe they had the same source and so credit was not necessary. The detail nut in me wants to know how it was proved that they were stealing stories and how they were confronted. Sadly I am not surprised. Major news sites tend to be very dismissive of blogs and the internet in general and it is bullshit that they act the way that they do. But I must ask, does journalism even have integrity anymore? I don’t think I could claim that.

  7. Blogging is not “a cesspool” eliminating the integrity of Journalism.

    Not all stories are broken by the big boys. They just like to think that if they want the news out they will call Variety first. Variety KNOWS they dont have all the stories first… but they like to pretend they do to maintain that illusion.

    The issue is the ORIGINAL stories that are broken by some of these sites. There is movie news that comes out FIRST from sites like ours and that is what Variety is stealing and saying they broke the story… days after its published on Latino Review or other sites – without credit.

    I have personally received emails from PR people offering our site the story first, and I am sure other sites are getting the same opportunities. Variety needs to lie to keep up their status quo. If they give the online community credit for breaking a story they are admitting that they were not called first or that their investigative reporters dropped the ball.

  8. Hey Devonroy,

    The Movie Blog is NOT a news site. Nor is ComingSoon or Collider or IESB blogs.

    Blogs aren’t trying to do journalism. I don’t report news, I just give my commentary and opinion on the news that’s out there. I don’t break any stories or even try to.

    But not all online movie sites are blogs. Many of them are news sites and do things differently. And I have to disagree with you… I find the “reporting” that Frosty does over at Collider to be every bit as good (or better in some cases) as Variety. He’s not as smart or charming as me… but hey… who is? :P

  9. Within the blog community everyone seems to steal from everybody, and no one is really reporting anything. Blogging is sort of a cesspool eliminating any integrity journalism once had. I think Variety is just trying to separate themselves from these kinds of sites. I go to say Themovieblog for quick reads, then Variety for more indepth journalism. Its difficult and lines get blurred sometimes, but if you are getting your stories from publications that have already reported on something then your not really breaking any news. And this is something Variety will do more of then sites like Themovieblog, which does separate them. I guess when you play in the same park your bound to be on the same slide at some time.

  10. I agree with everything John has layed out here, to consider online movie sites not credible enough to credit, but credible enough to steal from is a catch 22 and it must be stopped. Great work.

  11. As one of John’s writers I have to back him on everything save one thing… ” Only doing what Variety is doing”

    Two wrongs don’t make a right, but I also don’t have to find my stories on their website, or write about stories that others found on that site.

    I am boycotting Variety on principal, but I wont use their resources and not give credit. SOMEONE gets credit in all my posts because I got the story from somewhere. However, that somewhere wont be Variety.

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