In Slate, Edward Jay Epstein looks at the entertainment industry’s habit of ‘pushing the reality envelope’ in its dealings with the press. Well, pushing the envelope is kind of a euphemism. Consider:
On Sept. 4, 2005, the New York Times printed the following intriguing correction:
An article last Sunday about film piracy included incorrect revenue data supplied by the Motion Picture Association of America. Hollywood’s global revenue in 2004 was $44.8 billion, not $84 billion. Of the total, $21 billion, not $55.6 billion, came from sales of DVDs and Videos.
The correction was the result of a Times reporter, Timothy L. O’Brien, asking the Motion Picture Association of America to urnish the combined global take of the major studios in 2004… Instead of supplying the New York Times with the actual numbers, the MPAA sent bogus figures. Hollywood’s DVD revenue alone was inflated by more than $33 billion, possibly to make the MPAA’s war against unauthorized copying appear more urgent. Of course, the reporter had no way of knowing these impressive-sounding numbers were inaccurate and published them in an otherwise accurate story on film piracy.
According to Epstein, stuff like this happens all the time. Imagine! Do any of you entertainment reporters have similar stories about being misled? Let us know. Anonymity guaranteed, if you want it.