Nikki FinkeThe bitter rivalry between Hollywood journalists Nikki Finke, creator of Deadline Hollywood, and Sharon Waxman, Editor in Chief of TheWrap, reads like the script of a movie -- and the plot just got thicker.
This week Finke slapped TheWrap with a cease and desist letter, accusing it of stealing content from Deadline.com and posting it without properly crediting the source.
After reading through the letter posted on the site, it seems that Finke may have a point here. But why single out TheWrap beside the fact that she has a long-standing feud with Waxman? Isn't this exactly how countless other blogs and websites "cover" the news?
Finke doesn't seem to be frustrated generally with blogs and websites lifting content without credit and/or linkback (although I'm guessing she would prefer this didn't happen). Rather, she's concerned with a very particular offense -- namely that TheWrap doesn't take as much time as Deadline does to report or write the stories they post. She wrote:
...merely calling a studio or network and saying, "Is this correct?", then copying Deadline's post often word-for-word and slapping a different byline on it, does not constitute reporting in my journalism playbook. Nor should it for you readers.
This would be fine and dandy if it weren't for the fact that so many other blogs and websites are guilty of the exact same offense. In other words, it seems Finke's motivation for the letter lies not in improving the integrity of entertainment blogging but rather in shutting Waxman down.
And who can say for certain that Deadline itself has never acted in this way? Here's journalist Kevin Roderick, who launched the LAObserved.com website, weighing in on the situation:
Finke certainly has no claim to purity on this topic -- I've had stuff skimmed off by both her and by Waxman's people through the years without a fair level of attribution, so I can watch this with some amusement.
Personally, I don't know why Finke would bother with this in the first place. Readers can tell when news has been regurgitated, and they don't have a lot of patience for it in the long-run. If, in fact, TheWrap is consistently stealing content from Deadline (we don't know for sure because specific examples of violations have not yet been given), then the readers will stop coming, plain and simple.
But Finke's parent company Mail.com Corporation has experience battling it out over content rights in the courts: It brought lawsuits against DeadlineHollyweird.com and BoxOfficeWorld.com in 2010, which both resulted the websites shutting down.
So who knows how the Finke-Waxman drama will end?