Nikki Finke/Deadline Spat Tarnishes Powerful Media Brand

Deadline founder Nikki Finke is unquestionably one of the most powerful trade reporters in showbiz. She’s like Mashable for movies and TV: she always gets the scoop, and while publicists have learned to both love and fear her, they turn to her first to get breaking news out.

She’s also spent much of the past year in a very public disagreement with her publisher, Jay Penske—and it may have damaged the value of her brand. According to The New York Times, some film studio execs have even “pressed Mr. Penske to resolve the matter” so Finke can return to covering the industry with the “truthful and brutal” style that has become her signature rather than being distracted by internal disputes. In this case, the journalist is the brand, and that brand has as much, if not more, value to business insiders than to the general public.

Finke wants to either buy the site back from Penske or break off and form her own media entity, but her contract prevents her from doing so until 2016. It’s made for an interesting PR back and forth, with Penske’s spokespeople telling all who will listen that Finke isn’t going anywhere while denying her claims that she hasn’t received the resources promised.

Will Hollywood publicists continue going to Finke first, no matter where she lands? Do they really have any other options?