“Never pick a fight with someone who buys ink by the barrel,” Mark Twain reportedly said, by which he presumably meant that one should think twice before making a writer or journalist mad. In Hollywood, the writers who create most of our TV shows and movies (and yes, I’m including Canada in that) are definitely mad, and they are showing it by doing what they do best: writing.
Some are writing opinion pieces for traditional media such as the New York Times and Newsweek, while others are taking their case online. Thanks to the Internet, writers can not only whip together and publish a blog for virtually nothing, but can also create and upload video to promote their case against the big studios and TV networks.
On the Web, in other words, ink doesn’t just come by the barrel; it’s virtually unlimited, and almost free. And it gives the writers a powerful platform to advance their case that they didn’t have during their last strike in 1989.
It’s more than a little ironic, in fact, that the very tools content owners are using to generate new revenue — which the writers say they are being denied a share of — are the same tools writers are using to get their message out. One of the central gathering points for strike information online is UnitedHollywood, a blog created by several union organizers with the Writers Guild, which keeps track of commentary both online and off about the strike, including videos and photo galleries.
The site features a video by the writers of The Daily Show, the popular satirical news show, in which the writers put on a version of the show from a desk set up in the middle of a picket line. Another video from the writers of The Colbert Report is a hilarious satire of a studio executive.