John Walker's Electronic House

The Writers’ Strike

by on Nov.24, 2007, under The Rest

I’ve not written about the writers’ strike in the US, um, out of support? Wait, no, confusion and laziness.

However, I wish to publically express my support, and while I’m obviously upset that this years’ TV shows are looking likely to never finish their runs (ie. we’ll never see an end to Battlestar Galactica, Pushing Daisies, Chuck, etc), I think it’s worth it if the writers can get paid a fair wage for their work being redistributed online. (In fact, I’m still shocked that the Writers’ Guild dropped the campaign for a fair cut of DVD sales).

My sympathies are rather personal. While freelance, the majority of my work is for Future – a company that pays us once for work (at fees that haven’t been raised in a decade), and then reprints it in magazines all around the world, and puts it online over at least three different websites, and doesn’t pay us a penny more. A laughable minority of the journalists at Future are unionised, and freelancers are left in the cold. I’m jealous of the support and unity shown in America right now – the idea that the employees of Future might strike in support of each other seems fantastical, and unlikely.

Anyhow, here’s a video created by striking writers from The Colbert Report that pretty much gets all the points across:

13 Comments for this entry

  • Mark H Wilkinson


  • Graham

    Accepting reality TV writers into the WGA isn’t as simple as opening the doors. The WGA has a contract with the networks, and the networks claim that reality TV writers aren’t covered under that contract.

    Part of these new contract negotiations is about changing that, and bringing reality TV writers into the WGA. There’s a story on it here:

    I’m also not sure the Guild makes life more diffiicult for new writers.

  • pharoahe_monch

    “his years’ TV shows are looking likely to never finish their runs (ie. we’ll never see an end to Battlestar Galactica, Pushing Daisies, Chuck, etc” Does it really mean that all the ongoing series are just going to end and we have to wait the next season? My mind just can’t comprehend it.

  • John

    It’s more than that. Battlestar may never finish ever – everyone’s contracts expire at the end of the season.

  • pharoahe_monch

    do you mean that there may be an abrubt end to the shows whose makers’ contracts expire at the end of the season? you sounded much more pessimistic before. i mean, surely most of the producers want to continue their shows and make new deals with writers?

  • John

    In the case of BSG – that’s it. It just ends this year, the staff move on, the show closes down forever.

    Perhaps some TV movies could rescue it, but otherwise we’ll just never know what happens.

    Other shows will have their full season planned out. So we’ll have to wait until Autumn next year before we find out if the shows are picked up again, and see any resolutions to those hanging stories. Which will mess up every show’s plans.

  • Nick Mailer

    You should be paid a fair wage for your work at commission, whereafter it may be used without a problem. It’s the attitude of these writers that has led to the bloody DRM in the BBC’s iPlayer and so on.

  • Tedi Worrier

    hmmm? awoooga!! awoooga!! warning! warning” – technobabble alert

    Now, would that be:
    * Digital rights management
    * Data Reference Model
    * Data Resource Management
    * Digital Radio Mondiale
    * Direct Rendering Manager,
    * Distributed Resource Manager
    or perhaps
    * Dynamic Rich Media
    * Deese-Roediger-McDermott-Paradigm,
    or perchance
    * Desmin Related Myopathy
    * A Japanese girl group
    * Design reference mission
    * Detrital Remanent Magnetization
    or peraventure
    * Deutsche Rennsport Meisterschaft
    * Direct revelation mechanism
    * Direction du Renseignement Militaire
    * Disability rights movement?

    Aha! in the BBC huh? must be the last definition then

  • Thomas Lawrence

    Nick Mailer:

    What’s a fair wage for a script, in advance of knowing all the things that will be done with it, how successful it will be, how much money will be made, and, to be blunt, how good it is? It’s not easy to tell the difference between a blockbuster movie and a flop at the script stage.

    Due to this risk element with writing, writers in film and television are typically paid low wages, with residuals making up the difference, at least in theory (and hopefully giving incentive for writers to create good, or at least successful and marketable scripts).

  • Jonty

    Yeah, but fair rate at commission would be tied to what you think the writing is going to be worth. That’s almost impossible to predict – a writer could get paid beans for something that goes on to be massively popular and never see another penny for it, or get a massive cheque for something that dies immediately and takes the commissioning producer down with it. Compared to that, reuse rights are far more preferable for all concerned.

  • Nick Mailer

    Well, Jonty et al: tough. It’s up to the commissioner to take that risk, and pay what the market requires he pay. That’s what markets do, when they work properly.

    “Hmm.. I don’t know whether it’s worth paying that plumber 250 quid to fix my toilet. I’d prefer to pay him very little, and then per successful flush thereafter”.

  • Leo


    What a cop out. He better write a fucking book or something. I didn’t steal all those episodes just to end up unsatisfied!

  • Tedi Worrier

    I used to get £80 for 1000 words in 1987 … no idea how that equates to real money now.
    That was just for features and reports on PCW-type Shows – reviews were done for the glory of seeing one’s name in print and to keep the software … these days the software comes with an armed guard and is worth more than the article’s fee. … then the blank cassette was usually worth more than the game. …. but I had it easy since my publisher took no advertising from software houses … I could say whatever I liked.

    Software was worse … I got £27 for the BASIC listing of “Warlock” … it was republished in 10 magazines and again in a number of other countries … and I didn’t even get a T-Shirt