As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Sunday, November 18, 2007

The Power of Bottom-Up Media

The studios are going back to the bargaining table with the WGA after the Thanksgiving holiday. TAPPED has an interview with the union leaders, and there's this really interesting note:

TAP: A lot of the organizing around this is going on through new media, through blogs, Facebook – the very new media that you're working to get a piece of.

PV: [Writers and actors] can get together and actually do media without these guys and get it delivered. It goes back to this quote from Frances Coppola about 12 years ago, where he said that he wasn't going to make the next Godfather, it was going to be some 7-year-old girl with a digital camera. But how was she going to distribute it? Well, now we have the answer. We now have this distribution model that really seriously impacts the ability of the conglomerates to control production and distribution. What can help them survive in that brave new world is collaboration with the content providers, and yet it seems as though a routine has developed where they would rather try to find the cheaper way or the non-union way, or an approach that cuts us out.

There's no doubt that the embrace of new, bottom-up media by the writers has directly led to the AMPTP going back to the negotiating table. The studios are actually MAKING money at this stage of the strike. There's no production happening, which lowers the budget. They've terminated a lot of long-term contracts with some of the showrunners who have honored the strike, saving them more money. The strike wouldn't affect their bottom line for a few months. Beginning negotiations now is counter to their strategy of bleeding the union dry and dividing them through bringing certain shows back (like Conan, who's apparently under a lot of pressure). The ONLY reason they're coming back is because they're losing the media war. And this is really interesting, because the top-down media, in newspapers and even television, is supporting the AMPTP position, at least implicitly if not explicitly. But United Hollywood is a great organizing tool, the use of YouTubes has been brilliant, and it has not only kept the members unified and made them part of a movement, but it's increased public awareness of their issues, to the extent that polls are showing enormous sympathy for the writers.

This is really powerful for the future. Other unions can learn from this new model of organizing and leveraging the online space to push the message. Obviously a bunch of professional writers are going to have innovative and creative ideas to do this. But it can be replicated.

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