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Striking writers

No, I don't mean attractive people who write. I mean writers who are on strike.

I did a Google News and Google blog search on the strike and saw a whole gamut of opinions. Some bloggers pleaded with writers to quit striking so they (the bloggers) wouldn't miss their favorite shows. I'm sure that's what the striking writers want; the strike makes clear that sitcoms and dramas need writers to create them. And some people assume because writers like Joss Whedon can get rich creating shows, that all Hollywood writers are rich—far from the truth. I saw pro-writer postings and even a blogger who speculated whether this would be a chance to break in to TV writing, presumably as a scab.

The strike points out an interesting dichotomy among writers. People who write for a TV show or (in some cases) a newspaper or a magazine are salaried employees. Once they sign on with a publisher or studio, they know approximately how much money they will make, just like a plumber or a lawyer. Novelists don't have a clue. Their "salary" is defined entirely by the marketplace. No one buys the book, no royalties beyond the advance. And good luck selling the next one. Of course, if it's a best seller, and they had a decent deal, novelists can rake it in, too.

Which explains why so many novelists have a day job. In fact, according to one post, some of the striking writers have taken on writing comic books as a sort of "day job," as that medium is not the subject of the strike.

So what are they striking about? Wikipedia had a decent write-up of the issues. Apparently, the Writers' Guild and the studios have a contact that sets a minimum wage, and the writers want that to include better residuals for DVDs. These aren't covered well because the old contract was put in effect when videotape ruled. In fact, the writers and the studio are also arguing about newer technology like streaming video and downloads. The Wikiepdia entry mentions that WGA is trying to get reality shows covered by their contract (does anyone think they're truly spontaneous?) and more animated shows. And the entry lists where various TV shows are in terms of episodes filmed. You can look up your favorites, if you're worried. I have my fingers crossed that this won't kill The Big Bang Theory.

Meanwhile, America waits, finger on the remote, to see what will happen. As one blogger suggested, maybe folks will watch TV less? Maybe they'll read more?

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