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NY Post Reporter Fired, Possibly for Reporting on Lawsuit Against Disney

This week's Village Voice reports on the firing of NY Post entertainment reporter Nikki Finke. She was shown the door shortly after writing an article about the 1991 breach-of-contract suit against Disney by Stephen Slesinger Inc.. The suit alleged that Disney did not pay the correct amount of royalties to Slesinger, the company that holds the copyrights on Winnie the Pooh and related characters. The Village Voice article says, in part, "The news hook was the January 18 disclosure of court documents revealing that a judge fined Disney $90,000 last year for destroying documents that might or might not have been relevant to the case. The disclosure resulted in a spate of bad publicity in the days following."

The article asks whether the journalist was fired for factual errors in her stories, as the Post and Disney both allege, or because News Corporation, owner of the Post, caved into pressure Disney, an important business partner? Our question is, was the disclosure of the mere existence of the Winnie the Pooh case so damaging to Disney's public image that it would feel the need to pressure a major U.S. newspaper to fire a reporter?

FWIW, we started following this situation because some of our readers are intrigued by Disney's business and were not aware of the fact that they did not own some of their major characters outright. This was why we originally posted a story about the NY Post articles that started this controversy.

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