Respect Nikki Finke

And yet once again, this is just my opinion. I'm very, very aware that many people don't share it. But in the spirit of Aboud's post below, I think that it's a good thing for me to weigh in with something that, even though it won't be popular, is worth talking about.

Dissent and discussion is the cornerstone of any healthy democratic organization. Arguing with each other is not a sign of weakness. And arguing with each other doesn't mean we're willing to give up our bottom line. So I'm dissenting here.

I've noticed a tendency people have lately to get angry with Deadline Hollywood when something is posted that they feel harms our "unity." But the truth is, Nikki is very, very accurate, almost all the time. When she's not, it's usually because someone has fed her bad information and she hasn't been able to get the other side yet.

I'm personally sure the story of the screenwriters is not a hoax, because I have independent confirmation that it's true. I also think that those screenwriters are very uncomfortable thinking that other writers are going to ostracize them for questioning the leadership. That fear has led them, unfortunately, to choose speaking to each other instead of talking with the leadership or other writers.

There's been a lot of discussion that Nikki has been "had" or "hoaxed," but the reality is that these screenwriters are so concerned about their identities being found out that they're denying having any involvement in the group, or even that it group exists. I hope that they'll chose to talk with leadership and other members about their concerns. But I don't know what will happen.

And it raises the larger issue for me: when we get bad news, or news that makes us uncomfortable (as this did many people) shooting the messenger is just not the answer.

We have to be able to discuss and disagree internally. That's healthy. And we have to remember that Nikki Finke has been the one place that we've consistently seen honest reporting about the corporations and their appalling behavior.

When she starts suggesting that we should get $250 for a year's worth of downloads, then it might be worth getting pissed off. But a little perspective is useful here. She's not on our side or theirs, she's on the side of telling the truth. Sometimes that truth may embarrass us, but ultimately, communication is always a good thing. It lets us overcome our differences and become stronger.


Jake Hollywood said...

Nikki's okay. at least she's reporting on the strike. That's a damn sure more than most of the networks are doing and it's better than the slightly right of center biased reporting of the Times...

I'd buy her a drink anytime.

Fire Fox said...

Nikki is not a journalist, she's a gossip columnist. Her posts are designed to insure click-throughs and the drama that's been conjured in her recent "reports", "updates" and "breaking news" makes for good ratings. Tabloidization is not only the purview of the networks -- Nikki is a good example of that.

Steve Peterson said...

One of my big concerns was that Nikki hears something controversial, posts a news item quickly, but that news item lacks clarification (did they mean any contract the DGA gets? only a good contract? a not-so-good DGA contract but probably the best people can expect?) -- and she can't get clarification any longer because anyone who goes public will be accused of (quoting here from DHD comments):

"That’s basically betrayal and I doubt it’ll be seen any other way."

"Why is it that the more successful a writer is, the less courageous he is?"

"Is it me, or does this seem like an utterly selfish move by the richest among the WGA?"

"That’s disgraceful."

"Good!!! I’m glad someone told these Bennett Arnolds that facts of life. Stop running your mouths off and get with the program."


I like Nikki's blog but I don't like the way she censors which comments she will and won't post. Sometimes my comments are posted and sometimes they aren't posted. I never use foul language and I am never rude. I don't include links or anything that any blog would consider to be taboo. It makes me wonder what other comments she is selectively dumping.

I still have a link to her blog on mine. I just would like her to be more upfront about what she is doing.

B said...

I've never understood the near canonization of Ms. Finke.

jimmy said...

Has there been a serious offer from the AMPTP for a new contract?

Nope. Not yet.

So whatever might or might not be going on behind the scenes according to Nikki, or anyone else, is almost irrelevant until that first fact changes.

Even if the divide and conquer tactic fails miserably, does that mean writers are less worthy of a fair deal?

If the leaders are a little inexperienced and less savvy than the big moguls, does that mean that writers should eat dirt?

lol. no.

The only big mistake that writers need to worry about is if the WGA leaders start to believe their members deserve a crappy deal. So far, that's not the case.

This will not be pretty or fun or anything like the movies many of these writers have created.

Just don't let Nikki, or anyone else, change your focus.

It's about the deal.

And its absence.

VDOVault said...

dny loves criminal minds and I have both had reasonable comments either not be posted in the first place or worse be deleted after they were approved. So I can vouch for that happening.

Also Steve Peterson has a valid point in that posting the story first is not always preferable to waiting a bit and posting the story in its most accurate version. I assume that Nikki tries to post first as often as possible because in both the mainstream media and the blogosphere the 'victory' is often awarded to the source that gets there first.

That said Nikki is one source among many I follow in the strike news blogosphere and potentially share with the readers over at http://community.livejournal.com/wga_supporters/ with our 2500 members.

I am always in favor of more sides to the story.

Richard Cosgrove said...

I'm no Hollywood insider, but I'm worked in consumer journalism for coming up to 10 years now. And I know the difference between good and bad reporting.

Nikki's blog is good reporting.

In fact, it's very good.

So Deadline Hollywood Daily is a blog. So what? Would she be more authoritative if he pieces ran on the front page of THR or Variety? No. It's the reporter's work that counts, not where the report appears.

She posts stories before getting the other side's opinion. So what?

A story breaks and Nikki publishes the information that she can get at that time. And as the story develops, her reports are updated with the new information and clarifications.

These days every rolling news outlet around the world do the same thing - whether it's BBC News, Murdoch's Sky News, Fox News (OK - maybe that's a bad example of a news channel), Reuters and (even if you loath it) Al Jazeera.

The only difference is Nikki uses text, they use video.

And rolling news reporting is nothing new - CNN started it back in 1980!

Does she express her opinion? Hell yes. And that's valuable about DHD.

Nikki's been reporting on the business of showbusiness and Hollywood for a large portion of her career - well before she started DHD - so her analysis and opinions actually count for something.

Unlike the opinions spouted by the well-coiffed and bleached-and-shiny-toothed rent-a-quotes that populate TV news and chat shows these days.

Unlike the rants of an anonymous PJ-clad bedroom bloggers who've no inside knowledge, or contacts, in Hollywood. (I'm not saying Nikki doesn't do her best reporting in her PJs from her bedroom though.)

She's not an 'objective' reporter you say? He's a bombshell for you - the 'objective reporter' is a fiction.

They do not exist.

The best a journalist can do is avoid bias. (Or at least avoid as much bias as their publication allows them to.)

And Nikki's called out every side in the strike: WGA, AMPTP, news media, writers, Fi-Cores, stealth committees in the unions. And done it honestly. She doesn't make sneaky comments - she comes right out with her criticisms.

So she's removes comments from the blog? I've had more comments dropped from her blog than accepted, and I don't give flying f... you know.

I've seen plenty of posts that criticise Nikki's reporting, her stance, her perceived lack of neutrality, and her abilities appearing in DHD.

But all the comments she let stand - including those criticising her - are intelligently written and add to what she's reported, debate what she's written, or give an insight into what people in the strike are thinking.

And to suggest that she's editing out comments to promote one side or the other is laughable.

She has nothing to gain in the strike, so why should she take a side and harm her respect she's developed on all sides in the Hollywood?

Nikki's doing a damn fine job on DHD, and she should be praised for it.

I'd hire her to work on my magazine in a heartbeat. Because reporters like Nikki are a dying breed these days.

Nikki - if you read this - you are doing an excellent job. You should be proud of yourself, because they are plenty of people around who are proud of what you're doing.

One last thing: It'll be interesting to see if there seem to be more comments by anonymous commentators are appearing on DHD - and now here - that imply that Nikki is censoring comments in her blog for self-serving, or even malicious, reasons.

If I was paranoid I'd think it's a sneaky attack by AMPTP PR trolls to discredit her at a grassroots level, after she won that New York Observer Media Mensch of the Year award.

But I'm not. So I'll just put it down to people with thin skins who've been insulted that Nikki would stop the world reading their comments, which I'm sure were always masterfully written and cuttingly insightful.

Fire Fox said...

Wall of text from a DHD apologist.

Bonnie said...

Because Nikki purports to be an insider doesn't mean we have we have to regard her as one. Nobody died and left her in charge. She's done a terrific job. I have nothing but positive things to say about her. Call her a journalist, a columnist, a blogger, whatever. Apparently some people have chosen to accept her as gospel. That's profoundly naive. What not focus the actuality rather than the speculation.

Bonnie said...

Corrected post -- Because Nikki purports to be an insider doesn't mean we have we have to regard her as one. Nobody died and left her in charge. She has done a terrific job. I have nothing but positive things to say about her. Call her a journalist, a columnist, a blogger, whatever. Apparently some people have chosen to accept her as gospel. That's profoundly naive. Why not focus the actuality rather than speculation? When something happens, we'll find out. We won't need Nikki to tell us.

Brian Scully said...

I think Nikki Finke is an opportunistic hack. Just look at how often she leads with some teaser telling everyone that the details will have to come later. The post she did on Christmas Eve about how "Grim" things looked was unforgivably cruel and just plain mean. She is not to be admired. She is just another media hack who will do anything to make it look like she owns this story.. she doesn't... WE own this story. I hope you will post this as it is not possible to get her to post an honest criticism of herself on her OWN blog.

azuckerborneveryminute said...

The Katzenberg story was dubious. A biased source who wants the strike to end favorably for the studios releases the implausible scare tactic that the AMPTP is happy to eradicate the industry and next thing you know Alec Baldwin is peeing his pants. The moguls want to lose Upfronts as bad as they wanted the Golden Globes to go away and whispered Thanks WGA under their breath. Not credible. No companies want out? The WGA would be foolish to agree to anything until they get closer to sinking pilot season and the Oscars.

And why follow a DGA deal that doesnt yet exist instead of a SAG deal? As long as all the companies negotiate as a block, perhaps all the unions should do so as well. After shutting down the town completely of course.

H said...

Those of you claiming she filters comments -- I think you might be imagining insidious motives where, in reality, there aren't any.

For instance, I've written relatively benign comments that either don't get approved or get deleted after the fact. I don't think she's doing this maliciously -- instead, I think it's an accidental byproduct of the heavy editing she does on her posts after publishing them and technical hiccups due to the traffic load on her site. She gets a TON of comments (and spam, I'm sure), and she often waits to moderate comments until she's finished posting news items for the day. I notice moderation tends to happen in random batches. Yeah, it's not always timely, but really, I'd rather her post news items than play forum moderator.

I think you should give her the benefit of the doubt. You can see many opposing viewpoints (and indeed, many obvious trolls) posting over there, so if she's secretly trying to shape public opinion (hint: she's not) she's not doing it very well. Most importantly, I sincerely believe her MO -- as a journalist -- is to expose what others would sweep under the rug. I also think she's the kind of person who appreciates and encourages all kinds of voices, whatever their message. You can accuse her of a lot of things, but censorship really isn't one of them.

Besides, she only opened her news entries to comments recently, with the start of the strike. She's doing us all a favor by creating a public forum. No, it's not perfect. But it seems like it was done in good spirit.

Fobok said...

I read DHD because the news is posted. Period. Where else can such news be seen? I've looked at other websites and they're either blatantly wrong (like one I saw that claimed the WGA walked away from the table), or obviously aren't even really paying attention (like one web site at Christmas still mentioning the 4 cent raise on DVDs as being the major issue).

m.o.i.@ warrior ant press said...

Who, outside of Guild members, would know about the strike, if not for Deadline Hollywood Daily? Think of the thousand, er millions, who have been drawn to UH because of the reach her blog. Blogs begat blogs begat news stories begat more news stories begat more blogs and more news stories...on and on. No one was bitching when Speechless premiered at DHD, became viral, and brought attention to the strike.

Controversy sells stories, scripts, television, the movies, defines Hollywood, and if you're lucky enough, the controversy around not having actors at the Globes (or the Oscars) might even help sell an end to your strike.

SuIoh said...

Nicky Fink is a loser and a hack.
Nikki Finke on the other hand is still a loser and a hack.

Bonnie said...

It won't make me popular (luckily, that's not my goal), but I've been saying that Nikki has a few new "sources" that have ingratiated themselves as such over the past nine weeks, and their mission has been to take hold at this moment and sell her shit to post that just isn't true.

Also, as much as I do enjoy Nikki as a source for good info, I believe she would truly be everyone's favorite landing pad if she would just use less of the "I've been told" and "as I predicted" crap... especially when it's stuff that all have been told, all have predicted.

Nothing wrong with being first to break the story... but who CARES that you SAY you were scooped? That you had an exclusive? That you were the insider (or insider-adjacent) in the big story?

No one. Leave it.

Just say it and admit when you're wrong as well. It's good karma.

Go writers. Keep kicking ass. And thank you for the reporters, bloggers, and supporters too. All. That's the big pic.

Rick Ellis said...

Even in the best of circumstances, reporting about a strike in a company town is problematical. Most of your sources won't go on the record, you're never in the room when the best conversations take place, and people you admire often have no difficulty lying to your face.

Nikki certainly isn't perfect. But honestly, I don't see how you can cover the strike and not make some missteps. There are just too many differing opinions, and so many people spinning the stories that it's often impossible to get the complete facts.

Yes, her blog is sometimes a bit shrill and sensationalistic. And there are times when I think she's so pleased to be getting the "inside" story that she isn't as skeptical as she should be. But she's a fine journalist, and if I was able to cover this story 24/7, I'd be thrilled if I was able to reach her level of journalism.

And I'm also mindful of just how easy it is for the people she's covering to muddy the waters publicly by spinning a different story than the one they tell her in private. A few years back, I broke some stories about MSNBC, and had to wade through about a week of having some of my sources deny the story and imply I was a liar in public before other reporters were able to confirm the story. So I'm willing to give her a lot of leeway.

I do wish she would hire some intern to wade through the comments quicker and there are times when she would be well served to link to other people's reporting. But in the end, that's just my own quibbling.

Rick Ellis

Ben said...

Nikki's tendency to pat herself on the back is incredibly annoying. Her latest "OMG! Letterman mentioned me!" type post is exactly the self-congratulatory famewhoring that makes me cringe. She should just sign up for one of those reality shows she professes to hate so much and get it over with.

Yes, she occasionally has good information, but it's overshadowed by eagerness to be "the first", even when being "the first" means publishing nothing more than a teasing headline with no context.

She's borderline TMZ.com.

Respect Nikki Finke? Not a chance.

Richard Cosgrove said...

> Fire Fox said…
> Wall of text from a DHD apologist.
You wound me with your words sir. Or ma'am. Or child. Kind of hard to tell when you post anonymously. But I'm leaning towards child.

> Brian Scully said...
> I think Nikki Finke is an opportunistic hack. Just look at how often she leads with some teaser telling everyone that the details will have to come later.

You mine like how mainstream news sites use "Breaking News" alerts to say a story has appeared, and that full details will follow later?

Yeah. That makes Nikki an "opportunistic hack" all right…

> Brian Scully said...
> The post she did on Christmas Eve about how "Grim" things looked was unforgivably cruel and just plain mean.

Nikki is not a propaganda outlet for the WGA. She's a journalist with a job to do. When you're handed a big story you publish it - you don't sit on it.

It's a journalist's job to report the news at the earliest opportunity - not to sanitise it, or to sit on it so that it doesn't ruin your day.

The timing for that story was down to the source, not Nikki. So blame the source.

And as a rule, if you don't want to be depressed at Christmas, don't read the news.

> Bonnie said…
> Nikki has a few new "sources" that have ingratiated themselves as such over the past nine weeks, and their mission has been to take hold at this moment and sell her shit to post that just isn't true.

Being played by a source is a risk that all journalists face. It's not Nikki's fault if a source plays her.

And journalists can't go around telling people their source lied to them. Do that and the source might cut you off - no tip-offs, no confirmations of facts, no interviews, and no new stories.

Information is a journalist's life blood. If they don't have it, they can't do their job.

VDOVault said...

The comments of mine that were removed after being posted to DHD cited another journalist/blogger (Alex Ben Block) who is over at a site called HollywoodToday.net. That site has also been covering the strike, presumably cultivates a lot of the same sources that Nikki does and comes to a lot of the same conclusions that Nikki does.

However absent firm evidence from Nikki that HollywoodToday.net plagarized her work plus having my comments removed from her blog that merely pointed out additional coverage of the same issues she covered smacks of a kind of self-promotion that should ideally take a back seat to reporting the stories plus it detracts from what Nikki wants to be known for which is the 'best' reporting on the strike. I don't like to hear about journalists censoring anything but it's worse when you've been the victim of such censorship. So some of us are understandably a bit less enthusiastic about Nikki's good coverage.

Nikki has room for improvement as a journalist is all I'm saying. Not that she's not already good, but that I see ways where she can be better. One of those ways is to acknowledge that she has competition in her niche and then work a little smarter to show her superiority and difference and not to try to censor the fact that they exist from her readers.

If some of you choose to see constructive criticism genuinely offered to help Nikki improve her commanding lead as shilling for the AMPTP, well I don't know how to help you with your confusion.

Harold said...

"Arguing with each other is not a sign of weakness. And arguing with each other doesn't mean we're willing to give up our bottom line."

A - frickin' - men.

UH does allows some dissenting opinion - except when it is "foaming at the mouth" anger, and I have been foaming-at-the-mouth angry at times - and that is appreciated.

What is annoying is the idiotic "troll hunting" (e.g., "You're an AMPTP troll." "No, you're a frickin' AMPTP troll." "No, you are." etc.).

AMPTP just doesn't give a crap at the moment.

Troll hunting season can resume after the DGA deal. It's a certainty that there won't be much AMPTP interest in WGA until then.

There may never have been any AMPTP interest to begin with. The prelude to the DGA negotiations may have only been to make the WGA appear as unreasonable as possible to assist in imposing the DGA deal on the WGA.

And Nikki Finke? A great journalist with awards and recognition that confirm it. It's not as if she just started reporting when the strike began.

B said...

It is hard for me to respect someone who - in the midst of a strike that is an enormous financial hardship for thousands of people - takes great glee in the fact that she was mentioned on DL. NF profits from the strike. I for one will not visit her site again.

Brian Scully said...

To Richard Cosgrove.
Nikki Finke is a "journalist"? Please. Woodward and Bernstein were journalists. Walter Cronkite was a journalist. Nikki Finke is as much of a journalist as Perez Hilton. I'm sorry, but if that is the current definition of journalism... touting and teasing people into "refreshing for updates" to increase the count on her website, then, I think we're setting the bar a bit low for journalism and doing a disservice to people that are the real deal. Nikki Finke is, at best, a gossip monger from a local newspaper that no one has to pay to read... and as soon as the strike ends, and it WILL end, she will go back to being just that. Enjoy your 15 minutes, Nikki. And watch the number of hits on your website plummet.

Richard Cosgrove said...

Brian Scully said...
I'm sorry, but if that is the current definition of journalism... touting and teasing people into "refreshing for updates" to increase the count on her website…

That's how it works on news websites. Story goes up and gets updated with additional comments as the developments occur. The big outlets do it, not just journalists who write for blogs.

"Nikki Finke is as much of a journalist as Perez Hilton."
That's the best insult I've heard in a while.

b said…
"It is hard for me to respect someone who… takes great glee in the fact that she was mentioned on DL."

Hell, if I got a shout out on Letterman's show I'd run outside and stop everyone in the street to tell them - let alone put it up on a blog.

And re-read the Letterman post (it's between the ones about the Leno Monologue and the WGA's deal with UA). Does saying "Very cool. Much thanks" really count as taking "great glee"?

And you'd be right to say that's not journalism. It's marketing and promotion. Something every major publisher uses to get people reading their journalist's reports. Hardly evil.

DpPaul said...

Nikke Finke's site is one big billboard for the AMPTP to promote their films during the current award season. Am I the only one that sees that????