In an interview published yesterday with Barron’s, Disney CEO Bob Iger provided a rather interesting quote:
The quote seemed to be referring to Expedition Everest at Disney’s Animal Kingdom as “some nondescript coaster somewhere, that maybe is [themed like] India or something”. This quote and others in the story that seemed to disparage the creation of attractions not based on existing franchises (or IPs), enraged many Disney Parks fanatics on twitter and other social media outlets over the last day or so.
After hours of Disney fans taking to social media to defend Expedition Everest (including Imagineer Joe Rohde who headed up that Animal Kingdom project and his seemingly passive aggressive post) and voice their displeasure with the current direction of the Parks and Resorts, Mr. Iger took the time to reply to a single tweet (something his does incredibly rarely):
Mr. Iger certainly could have meant something else, and whether he did or he did not, he felt the need to defend his quote. Things, however, have gone a step farther…
Today, Barron’s went so far as to alter the quote in their story:
The quote was changed from “some nondescript coaster somewhere, that maybe is [themed like] India or something” to “some nondescript coaster somewhere”. If just the words in the brackets had changed, that might be understandable as those were created by the author, but the words “India or” also vanished. Not being in parenthesis, the story indicated that these words were without doubt spoken by Bob Iger in this interview.
I’m sure some of you are asking why this matters. Well, altering a quote is extraordinarily unethical in the world of journalism, unless the quote was made up or dubiously altered by the author. If the quote from the person being interviewed was made up by the author, well, you typically would relieve that writer of their duties for making such an unethical decision. What actually happened here is anyone’s guess, but the sensible line of thought would be that Disney asked Barron’s to alter the quote to combat the backlash that it was receiving. This tells us that someone in the Disney organization was upset with what was said.
Mr. Iger should know that this is “a big no-no” in the industry as he attended the Roy H. Park School of Communications at Ithaca College. I’m sure the Media Law and Ethics classes at Ithaca College are based on the same principles as those taught anywhere else, but I can’t speak from experience.
So, what happened? Did Disney pressure Barron’s to change the quote? Was Iger misquoted? Did Iger accidentally indicate that an IP-based overlay (similar in concept to California Screaming’ becoming the Incredicoater) is coming during the upcoming, unannounced refurbishment of Expedition Everest? Or did Iger just say something nasty about an attraction based on an original concept at a Disney theme park? We’ll probably never know.
Well, what do you think?