TV Journalistic Rules Of The Road: Illegal Is Still Illegal

TV and film critics need to respect the rules -- most of the time.

Fox News' Roger Friedman (no relation, as far as I know) knew he was breaking the rules in regard to the new Fox Film Entertainment movie "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" when he reviewed a pirated copy of the film, which won't be released until May.

At first one might say that journalistic intrepidness is a positive mark on one's curriculum vitae. Not so. His bosses fired him because News Corp., as well as Fox News, has zero tolerance for anyone grabbing what, as it turns out, is their unauthorized content.

The temptation to get out the entertainment news first is strong. But I'd like to think about those lines we don't cross. Friedman must have known what he was doing.

"I doubt anyone else has seen this film. But everyone can relax. I am, in fact, amazed about how great "Wolverine" turned out. It exceeds expectations at every turn," he wrote.

Everyone can relax?

I'm guessing Friedman was identifying News Corp. and Fox senior executives. I'm guessing Friedman believes journalists -- maybe as part of those rough and tumble guys at Fox News -- should have some leeway. I'm guessing he thinks a positive review would mean a lot.

Snarky critics may wonder whether there would have been a different reaction were this about a competitor's theatrical film. I'm sure Fox executives would be consistent -- an illegal act is still illegal.

Entertainment journalists looking to flesh out a story on pirated content would have a hard time explaining to their editors the need to do the actual deed -- to be fully engaged in the story.

Friedman's move was all about getting the story first -- with hubris, though it may seem his crime was one that many people perhaps commit.

It's good to know Friedman's firing was an obvious move for a big-time media owner to make -- even in difficult economic times, when losing key on-air talent isn't easy



3 comments about "TV Journalistic Rules Of The Road: Illegal Is Still Illegal".
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  1. Arthur Lynch from Creative Communications, April 7, 2009 at 12:48 p.m.

    I give an "F" for the assignment and if they contest that grade to the dean, the dean gives gives them an "F" for the course because accessing content that violates copyright law is against school policies and immoral. When a student fights the issues, I point out that the second word in copyright law is "law".

    I am shocked FOX has the morals to fire someone over this issues but glad to see that on one front the battle against internent piracy, file sharing and law breaking is real and active.

  2. dan johnson, April 7, 2009 at 1:15 p.m.

    He didn't 'steal' anything. Just like the New York Times reporter who walked into a book store and bought a copy of a Harry Potter book that wasn't suppose to be on sale yet. All he did was look at something that was available and was being seen by hundreds of others. That is what journalists do. If would have been different if he had perputrated the crime but he didn't. It is illegal to 'steal' court records too. yet some people do and turned them over the journalists who publish them. Don't blame the messenger for the crime.

  3. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, April 7, 2009 at 8:24 p.m.

    There still is such a thing as honor among theives and you don't take someone's else 20 off their space at the bar. That said, Friedman crossed a fire line. His ego got in the way of future profits including his own.

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