Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Muddled thinking on the strike

As the American writers' strike continues, some commentators just can't bring themselves to sympathise. Their arguments, an uninspiring mix of the inaccurate (All Hollywood writers are rich) and the defeatist (We're all going to be victims of the internet) are neatly encapsulated by Emily Bell who, as director of digital content for Guardian News and Media, surely ought to know better.

I'll leave it to American writers and bloggers John August and Craig Mazin to explain just why the writers' cause is worth striking for. And, if that doesn't make it clear enough, here, via Craig's Artful Writer blog, is a short video...

Update (14/11/2007): The WGAw have got a new-look website with loads of strike info. And Variety is reporting the WGGB's support for the strike, and our upcoming Awards (or "kudosfest" as they call it).


  1. Will the WGGB be expressing its condemnation of Emily Bell's article to Broadcast itself?

  2. Good question, I hope so - I've emailed them, and the more people that speak up and complain about it, the better. Her bias is bad enough, but the factual errors are just shameful.

  3. The combination of the internet and broadcast-quality PVRs has already begun to undermine the broadcasters' traditional business model, and to pretend that we're not hurtling toward a digital, downloaded pick'n'mix system of distribution is naive in the extreme. What we're witnessing is an industry doing its damndest not to adapt.

    You'd think a 'director of digital content' would have more of a clue. Part of the problem, I suppose.

  4. I've written, too. I emailed Will Strauss, the website editor.


    Goodness, that article from Emily Bell has made me cross! Has she not heard of royalties? As Tony Hancock said, did Magna Carta die in vain? If writers' work is shown on the telly, Internet, mobile phones or Hoover, the WGGB makes sure writers are paid. Unlike our striking American colleagues, we already have agreements for all of the above. Okay, I exaggerated about the Hoover. But a writer has the right to be paid for his or her work wherever it's used and for as long as it's used, as long as it's in copyright. Or is it proposed that right be taken away as well?

    I honestly believe that the digital age will provide more income for writers than ever, not less. Our work will be accessed by more people in more countries than ever thought possible. That potential audience should make any sane writer salivate, not complain.

    As for all Hollywood writers being rich... only a favoured, talented few,I'm afraid, the same as in Britain. And yes, Em, you should get paid every time your article is downloaded; in the same way ALCS makes sure you're paid if your article's photocopied or scanned. Lots of writers and writers' organisations work hard to secure our rights and future incomes. And you know what hurts most, Emily? You didn't even say thank you!

  6. Just to say I also wrote the above in rebuttal to Broadcast. We're not going to ignore this one!

  7. I've just heard that the Montreal meeting of affiliated Writers' Guilds has announced an International Day of Solidarity for November 28th.

    As I live far from London and deep in the sticks and my daily routine is such that any suspension of work would pass for business as usual in the eyes of the world, I'm trying hard to think of some practical way to show my support.

    At the very least I shall blog with a much grimmer expression than usual.


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