Check In: The Sony Hack And Privacy In The Digital News Cycle

Five months ago, the world media was greeted by the news cycle that simply wouldn’t end. The media savagery over Sony emails lead to Sony Pictures Entertainment co-chair Amy Pascal leaving the studio following the hack.

After three weeks of butchery between sites to find gossipy worthy stories from the seemingly endless amount of stolen files from Sony Pictures, Aaron Sorkin published an article entitled ‘The Sony Hack and the Yellow Press’ in the opinion pages of The New York Times. The article called out the media for helping the hackers.

Three months after Sorkin’s article the topic settled down, Hollywood took a breath and we hoped that history wouldn’t repeat itself. However, from the moment that Wikileaks published its database of private and confidential Sony data and communications, media outlets jumped at the chance to redirect their audience to the site with articles galore across sites including The Hollywood Reporter and Indiewire.

Sites including Salon went further publishing excerpts from private studio emails detailing some of the problems that have arose on productions. The emails from Sony executives like Amy Pascal contain confidential information regarding Amy Adams, Emma Stone, David O Russell, Bradley Cooper and others. One of the few remaining outlets not to exchange integrity for a story, Deadline Hollywood was congratulated by Harvey Weinstein saying “Mike Fleming at Deadline didn’t go for the game of having Deadline publish these emails. He’s a rare journalist that stood by ethics and integrity” the comment was made at his recent ‘In Conversation’ event at the Tribeca Film Festival.

In the last week, following Wikileaks’ disregard for privacy, Harvey Weinstein commented on the Sony leak at the Tribeca Film Festival saying “The emails are private property.”

Until the Sony leak, one of the most prominent stories involving privacy in Hollywood involved the leak of Quentin Tarantino’s script for his next 70mm feature The Hateful Eight by a site that disregards any legal or privacy concerns and publishes anything that’s trending, known as Gawker Media. In the digital news cycle all the media is beginning to be painted with the same proverbial brush as Gawker. Its not a hidden fact that the media is conforming to Gawker’s standards with Wikileaks publishing a database of 30,000 documents and 173,000 emails from a terrorist attack on a Hollywood studio and The New York Times printing headlines, containing data gathered from confidential emails, including one headline ‘Sony Hack Reveals Email Crossfire Over Angelina Jolie and Steve Jobs Movie’.

The media and Wikileaks have made claims that the information is in the public interest The New York Post called “Jolie a ‘Spoiled Brat’ From ‘Crazyland’,” The Daily Beast said “Shocking New Reveals From Sony Hack,” and The Huffington Post said “Sony’s Hacked Emails Highlight Hollywood’s Problems With Diversity”. None of which sound to be in the interest of anyone other than tabloids and on the side of the informed public Sorkin says “You’re Giving Material Aid to Criminals”.

In this new age where an advertising dollar is worth printing any story again and again, month after month — even those that violate another’s privacy. Has the digital news cycle become more of an advertorial and a haven for permanently repeated stories frozen in time by the internet. Only time will once again tell.

About the Author

Editor-in-Chief of Tastic Film Magazine James Rush.

Posted in Check In, Media Desk, Movies