Week Four

A Deeper Look into Variety’s Story on Disney’s Rebranding of Fox

One of the biggest stories in the world of entertainment business over the past few months was the rebranding of Fox under Disney. Disney acquired Fox’s movie division, and Disney has gone straight to work in converting all of Fox’s properties into their own. One of the biggest moves they’ve made is dropping the “Fox” name in favor of “Searchlight Pictures” according to Adam B. Vary’s article on Variety’s website titled ‘Disney Drops Fox Name, Will Rebrand as 20th Century Studios, Searchlight Pictures.’

One thing that I think would instantly throw somebody checking to verify this story’s accuracy would be the fact that the story says, “Variety has learned.” Let’s say, hypothetically, we were looking at a political story that said, “United States President Donald Trump hates dogs, New York Times has learned.” I think I’d be a bit skeptical. Who told New York Times that Donald Trump hates dogs? Why is this news? What reason does the New York Times have for keeping its source’s identity a secret? In this case, I don’t really need Variety to expand any further. Knowing Variety’s history as one of the most accurate and successful entertainment journalism outlets in the country, I have every reason to believe this is correct. Based on Variety’s history of connections in the entertainment industry and Adam Vary’s author page, it seems as though this story is well thought out and well informed. I’d guess that Variety has sources who send out credible information to different outlets from inside studios, as it mentions that email addresses are being changed. If a lower level employee informed Variety of this change, it might not even make a difference to identify the source by name. If Vary wrote that Eric Smith, the 21-year-old intern who brings lunch to Disney C.E.O. Bob Iger, was the source of this information, it wouldn’t make much difference to me. I don’t know of this theoretical Eric Smith. I know of Bob Iger, so it would probably be important if the information came straight from him, but it likely didn’t, so I don’t think it makes much of a difference.

It doesn’t make much use of web-based tools to improve the story, but I think the background it gives is enough. It explains the purchase of Fox’s movie division by Disney, including that the sale occurred in March of 2019 for $71.3 billion. It does, however, provide hyperlinks to other stories about Fox and Disney, which could lead readers to other stories about this major acquisition. I’ve also always liked how interactive Variety’s website is. For example, there’s a comment section with active engagement, there are related stories and there is a section going over current general movie news. I think it does enough keep audiences clicking on the site and facilitating conversation about the topic.

I also couldn’t find any evidence of bias from the writer’s perspective. He does mention that Fox’s news channel will remain a part of Fox Corp., which could absolutely provoke opinions (as evidenced by the comment section), but it comes across as more informative than anything. I remember when this story broke, and I wondered what that meant for the television network, the news network and the sports channels. While I might have liked for this article to answer a bit more about the sports channels, I understand the basic premise of what is going to happen to the television channel and the news network. If I were to give this story a letter grade, I’d probably give it an A-minus. It has voice, and it’s informative enough for me to know exactly what is happening. While it doesn’t name its sources, I trust Variety, especially with a story revolving around something like a rebranding. I don’t see a reason for this story to be false, but I see every possibility that Variety has sources inside Disney and inside Searchlight Pictures who could transmit this information, and their names are mostly inconsequential to me. I think this is a good story, and I always look forward to more like it from Variety.