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Thursday, May 19, 2011

Comcast vs. Reel Grrls

Posted by on Thu, May 19, 2011 at 4:49 PM

There's some giant-corporation-on-adorable-nonprofit violence going on today, involving Seattle's very own Reel Grrls. Metafilter has a handy play-by-play (click through for all the links):

Just your classic corporation-meets-social-good, corporation-funds-social-good, corporation-dumps-social-good story. Cable giant Comcast meets ReelGrrls, a Seattle-based nonprofit dedicated to supporting young women in becoming filmmakers. Comcast funds ReelGrrls. Comcast buys NBC, giving their cable network (presumably cheaper) access to NBC's vast back catalog of content. FCC approves the union. FCC head Meredith Attwell Baker leaves and becomes head of Comcast. ReelGrrls tweets about her career move. Comcast yanks funding for ReelGrrls. ReelGrrls says, "OMG, you broke up with me over a tweet?"

Here's a video response by some of the Reel Grrls summer participants:

Reel Grrls's official response is after the jump, followed by Comcast's sheepish and abrupt capitulation.

Reel Grrls says:

As an organization that works in the media field, Reel Grrls has been following coverage of the recent hiring of former FCC commissioner Meredith Attwell Baker. Based on your interest in this and other media issues, I wanted to inform you about a recent punitive decision Comcast has made in reaction to our organization’s social media outreach on this issue. As a result of our organization expressing an opinion about the hiring on Twitter, Comcast has decided to pull funding from a local youth program they have supported for the last four years.

Our nonprofit organization, Reel Grrls, offers a media production summer camp for teenage girls that includes a wide variety of courses ranging from documentary filmmaking to video production to film animation (http://www.reelgrrls.org/programs/daycamp). Lessons taught by professional women filmmakers not only provide specific skills to these young women, but also offer the mentoring and support most critical during these developmental years.

Like many media organizations, we followed the news of the Comcast hiring closely and considered the important debate this issue presents on media policy and corporate influence over our political process. As an independent nonprofit focused on media issues, we chose to express our concerns with others interested in this issue in our community on Twitter.

As a result of this opinion being voiced, Comcast informed us via email (included below) that they would no longer be supporting our summer program for young women.

We were saddened that Comcast’s reaction to this debate over ideas was to punish local youth by defunding a program that offers young women in our community an opportunity to turn their summers into life changing experiences.

In a society that values free expression and earnest political debate, it is troubling that a corporation would expect that any organization they partner with would limit their publicly-expressed opinions to only those that are favorable to the corporation or risk crippling punitive measures. Comcast’s overreaction to a simple tweet is particularly disheartening because, until this event, they have been a strong philanthropic partner to our organization.

Reel Grrls hopes that Comcast will reconsider their decision making moving forward in partnerships with other members of the community and choose to support worthy community efforts and the free expression of political ideas in the future. We are not asking Comcast to restore our funding. We are simply asking that when faced with similar decisions in the future, they consider whether it is appropriate to expect to be beyond reproach by any who choose to work with them. Particularly given the increased power they gained over American’s access to information as a result of the recent NBC merger, we believe they have a special responsibility to avoid the stifling of free expression.

A copy of the email informing us that Comcast would be revoking support based on the opinions expressed by our organization is below. As you continue to cover the Comcast/Baker issue, I’d love to speak with you about our situation and the wider trends about corporate reach and free speech that the company’s reaction to our tweet speaks to.

Aaaaaaand Comcast responds:

“We are in the process of reaching out to ReelGrrls in Seattle and let them know the funding the organization has received from Comcast is not in jeopardy and we sincerely apologize for the unauthorized action of our employee. This is not the way Comcast behaves toward its nonprofit partners.”

Okey dokey!

 

Comments (8) RSS

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The Wretched Harmony 1
9,000 words about a tweet and you don't tell us what the tweet said?
Posted by The Wretched Harmony on May 19, 2011 at 5:38 PM · Report this
LogopolisMike 2
When I moved three blocks, Comcast made me change my phone number through them (because it was a different zip code) and when they were to come out to do an install (scheduled at the same time they made us change our phone number), they didn't show up because they couldn't get a hold of us -- because they kept trying to call us at the old phone number -- so each group wasn't able to communicate at all with the other.

So it's pretty easy to imagine that one side of corporate couldn't do the same thing.

It pains me to defend Comcast at all, but in this case, it really seems like they're in the process of fixing it. That said, Reel Grrls should make the mistake as public as possible. In other words, it seems like, as broken as the system is, it's working here.
Posted by LogopolisMike http://logopolis.typepad.com on May 19, 2011 at 5:56 PM · Report this
watchout5 5
"we sincerely apologize for the unauthorized action of our employee" - read

IT'S TOTALLY OUR POLICY TO TREAT ANYTHING AND EVERYTHING LIKE WE'RE BETTER. WE FORGET SOMETIMES THAT OUR 'CLIENTS' OR AS WE LIKE TO CALL THEM, SHEEP, HAVE MINDS OF THEIR OWN AND SOMETIMES ACT AS IF THEY HAVE FREE WILL. WE HAVE WORKED QUICKLY TO MITIGATE THIS SITUATION, AND ASSURE OUR SHAREHOLDERS WE HAVE GIANT FUCKING BALLS AND WE WILL TEABAG EVERYTHING FOR AS LONG AS POSSIBLE. Love comcast.

Monopoly was the name of the game. What are we going to do if we don't like comcast? Tweet about it? PLEASE. They monitor all tweets, next they'll start fucking people over for pre-tweets. I SAW YOU HALF WRITE THAT TWEET AND HIT X YOU'RE GOING DOWN BUDDY.
Posted by watchout5 http://www.overclockeddrama.com on May 20, 2011 at 2:26 AM · Report this
6
4 is correct. She did not become head of Comcast, she became a lobbyist for them. I think this is equally as unethical but it should be noted.
http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/entertai…
Posted by Root on May 20, 2011 at 7:32 AM · Report this
7
Here's the tweet (via @reelgrrls) OMG! @FCC Commissioner Baker voted 2 approve Comcast/NBC merger & is now lving FCC for A JOB AT COMCAST?!? su.pr/1trT4z #mediajustice
Posted by mailemae on May 20, 2011 at 8:23 AM · Report this
8 Comment Pulled
9
@5 can you really monitor a pretweet? You should see some of the pre-comments I write on Slog before I hit cancel!
Posted by subwlf on May 21, 2011 at 9:00 AM · Report this
10
Yo, Lindy West, my fave Goddess, when you mentioned Meredith Attwell Baker, you should have also mentioned that she is the frigging daughter of James Baker, the lifelong consigliore to the Bush Crime Family, and was advisor to President Geo. H.W. Bush, later his secretary of state.

Baker also occupied an office in George Weasel Bush's White House in order to defend Saudi Arabia against lawsuits after 9/11/01.

This is important info, and if you'll ever truly achieve Junior Cub Reporter Status, you should follow up on things like this.

End of lecture. And GET OFF MY LAWN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Posted by sgt_doom on May 25, 2011 at 11:36 AM · Report this

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