11/24/2007

Astroturfers, Sock Puppets, Conglomerate Plants: A Troll by Any Other Name



I want to take a few moments to point out something that some readers of this blog may not be aware of.

There are people on the Internet who have a very interesting job: They get paid by large companies to sit in rooms all day (in shifts, so they have 24 hour coverage) and read blogs and news sites. Then, they go into the comments sections of those sites and try discredit or defuse anything that might be seen as negative to their employers. They always pretend to be ordinary people, and never admit that they are writing as paid advocates. They act as if they are regular folks, just responding honestly to what they've read.

But they aren't. These people are professionals, and they're known in the PR industry as "astroturfers" (because they pretend to be grass-roots, but they're fake), as "sock puppets" (that one kinda speaks for itself) and, most famously, as "trolls."

I was just reading the comments on the Chris Williams story -- the boy who has chosen to join the picket lines, and wrote a story and drew a picture about his experiences. A few people (most conspicuously, of course, an "anonymous") went to great lengths to heckle, demean, belittle and insult this kid.

They even questioned his existence, saying that he was a PR stunt made up by the WGA, or a "plant."

When the woman who met Chris, who sent in his story, responded in the comments section with an offer to prove he was real and not a plant, "anonymous" promptly said that he'd called the number she gave for verification and it was a strip joint.

Yeah, it's not a strip joint. The 7th grader isn't a plant. Sorry.

But that's what trolls are hired to do -- at all costs, turn attention away from anything their employers don't like (for example, a true story about a kid who walks the line with us.) Call people liars, insult little kids, whatever it takes to win. Keep people from paying attention to the actual issues.

And we've got a lot of trolls here. Kinda like we're infested with weevils, except that the weevils are making a hell of a good living off the strike. So actually, they're a little more like parasites.

Because we're a volunteer organization (we aren't paid for this, we're a collection of strike captains and other writers working together because we want to), we don't have the resources to battle the paid hecklers the AMPTP sends out into the blogosphere. So the trolls will continue to show up here, and continue to pretend to be people they aren't. They'll lie and insult and try to manipulate. Why? Because it's the only strategy the AMPTP has. The truth is not on the conglomerates' side.

A lot of people reading this post will already be aware of everything I've written about. But as you may remember, my yardstick will always be my 91-year-old Omie in Blanco, Texas, and she sure as hell had never heard of trolls. So for everyone wondering where all those shrill, angry people in the comments sections came from -- chances are they're hired guns, who lie for a living.

83 comments:

survivor of the fan wars said...

Oh, we've noticed the trolls. What they don't understand is that so many of us have dealt with this kind of behavior on message boards for years. We've seen the signs before. We know not to give them any weight.

When all of this is done and the writers (God willing) have a fair contract, the trolls can go help out in the accounting department. They'll need the extra hands when all the Federal Government audits start.

Anonymous said...

The bizarre thing is that some of these people actually think they will somehow benefit from what they do. Some think they are seen as valuable to the corps.

The reality is that they're cheap labor for which there is no health insurance expense. The corps for which they write (poorly) could care less about them. They'll all die horrible deaths from cancer tumors the size of soccer balls.

Have you heard of those socially alienated people that play World of Warcraft 12 hours per day? Sort of like CHUDs except not as attractive?

They're the ones that are hired to do this stupid crap. The poor logic (because it's primarily based on video game causality), the poor demeanor (because they rarely see people), and the subtle self-hate (hey, I would hate myself too if I was one of these anti-social shits) are all there in their posts.

Anonymous said...

Does the IA pay into the WGA health benefits?

Anonymous said...

what a load of crap.
While Im sure that there are "trolls" out there..in the process you are trying to discredit genuine people out here who just disagree with what you are doing.

This is just a case of the rich trying to get richer....from both the producers end AND the Writers end.

The average working writer in this business makes well over $200,000 per year....and yet nobody even cares about any of us other crew members who are all out of work, (right before the holidays) who live paycheck to paycheck.

The writers may very well end up getting everything that they want in their new contract (good for you).
The producers might actually end up loosening their pocketbooks and start sharing the wealth (its about time)....
But who between you in going to help with all of the families out there who can't afford Christmas for their kids, who can't pay their bills, who might lose their homes because they can't pay the mortgage?
I guarantee you that it will not be the producers or the writers....because that means that they would actually have to start caring about people other than themselves.

Laughing Muse said...

Ah, yes - the joys of dealing with trolls. Been there, done that. (Skipped the tee-shirt.)

When you can't beat 'em, denigrate 'em.

Anonymous said...

To anonymous at November 26, 2007 7:21 AM claiming to be a "crew member":

"1) I.A.T.S.E., IBT Local 399, Studio Utility Employees Local 724, IBEW Local 40, Plumbers & Pipefitters Local 78, and the Plasterers & Cement Masons Local 755... ALL RECEIVE RESIDUALS.
2) These residual payments go directly into their PENSION AND HEALTH FUND.
3) RESIDUALS earned working on shows CONSTITUTE 55% OF THEIR P & H.
4) If there are funding surpluses from residuals, retirees receive a 13th and a 14th check in that year, instead of the normal twelve.

We’re talking $339 million in residual contributions to the funds in 2006, and a projected $351 million this year.

If any other Union or Guild negotiates as part of its collective bargaining agreement with the AMPTP residuals on product for iPods or similar devices, the Producers will meet with the IATSE to negotiate an appropriate residual formula."

Nice try at indignation, studio troll. Go back to your WarCrap game and your breakfast of Mountain Dew.

survivor of the fan wars said...

To the anonymous commenter at 7:21AM:
As you seem unable to grasp the difference between 'average' and 'median', please allow wikipedia to clarify:

>>A classic example is average income. The arithmetic mean may be misinterpreted to imply that most people's incomes are higher than is in fact the case. When presented with an "average" one may be led to believe that most people's incomes are near this number. This "average" (arithmetic mean) income is higher than most people's incomes, because high income outliers skew the result higher (in contrast, the median income "resists" such skew). However, this "average" says nothing about the number of people near the median income (nor does it say anything about the modal income that most people are near). Nevertheless, because one might carelessly relate "average" and "most people" one might incorrectly assume that most people's incomes would be higher (nearer this inflated "average") than they are. For instance, reporting the "average" net worth in Medina, Washington as the arithmetic mean of all annual net worths would yield a surprisingly high number because of Bill Gates. <<

Although, I'm guessing that we'll go through all of this again in the next post.

Anonymous said...

For a Lesson in studio/AMPTP paid WarCrap troll identification see Anonymous at November 26, 2007 7:21 AM:

"This is just a case of the rich trying to get richer....from both the producers end AND the Writers end."

Notice that the producers are blamed and the writers are blamed - neither of which has much to do with AMPTP. Actual producers are getting the shaft as well. AMPTP is media conglomerates, not producers.

Notice how "This is just a case of the rich trying to get richer....from both the producers end AND the Writers end" attempts indifference between two parties that actually agree with each other (for the most part) against the studios and networks.

Your video game logic failed you, studio troll. Your stupidity has been noted.

Kelly said...

I would like to make a brief clarification here - myself and others making comments from a different point of view might rightfully be considered “Internet Trolls” for not agreeing with the WGA party line. I do think it’s inaccurate (and somewhat paranoid) to automatically categorize all of the”Internet Trolls” as shills who are being paid by the big corporations to undermine your cause. I have been providing a valid e-mail address with each of my posts. If anyone would like to actually challenge whether I’m speaking in the capacity as a private citizen they can send me an e-mail. I will tell them the government agency where I work, and my full name. Then they can web search the main switchboard for my agency, and give me a call.

I will tell you now that I am not being paid by anyone to make remarks here or elsewhere. These are my personal opinions, and are not paid advertisements. To suggest that all contrary opinions are being paid by your employer is frankly dishonest. I view this post thread as an uninformed attempt to squash any contrary opinion to the WGA party line.

As for why we “Internet Trolls” are here, well I have a question in return. Why is the WGA taking their case to the public if they don’t want to hear what the public has to say both pro and con.

Thank you for your consideration.

Zmortis@gmail.com

p.s. Does calling someone a weevil or parasite count as an insult? Let’s see, who’s telling lies and flinging insults here?

Anonymous said...

It's ok guys..your ignorance betrays you.
Not one of you is willing to believe that you are NOT universally loved for what you are doing.
This "crew member" happens to belong to Local 44..(Affiliated Property Craftsmen).
And yes, I disagree with both sides.
The Producers have forced your hand and the Writers have gone on strike.....forcing thousands upon thousands of innocent bystanders
(who don't receive any kind of residuals to get them by)...to figure out how to pay their bills.

I am not here to place blame on any one party...My point is...
GET TO THE FUCKING TABLE AND FIGURE IT OUT!!!

Too many other people are being hurt by BOTH parties actions.

Kelly said...

In reply to “survivor of the fan wars”. You make some very good points about the difference between average, mean, and mode. Most people on this board still ignore a basic factual question I have been asking. Presumably the WGA has some kind of data on the money being made by their members. If they really want to make the case to the public about how unfair the pay is for writers, why doesn’t the WGA publish the statistics about the lower end, upper end, mean, average, and mode annual income for their members? They could even put it in perspective of the cost of living overhead for California and New York. That would provide a clear picture to the American public of any inequities in the pay for WGA members without revealing any member’s individual income. If they have published the information please let me know where it can be found.

Thank you for your consideration.

Zmortis@gmail.com

m.o.i.@ warrior ant press said...

I think you might be wrong about the trolls. I can see a few trolls might be out there, but really, come on, is it plausible to think that there are hordes of folks paid by corporate to mine the internet for content, comment on it, and then get paid? Come on. And 9/11 was a hoax as well. Gimme a break.

No. You're trying your damnest to get people to care about your cause, to do whatever it takes in this cynical world to attract attention to the issues which is why you pull the star card whenever you can. All of which is admirable (at least from a marketing standpoint), but why curse the masses when they come? What, they can't have an opinion?

Sorry. No. The internet has evolved well beyond the corporate attempts to undermine the people and it has succeeded on its own. No help from Disney needed. It is the people my friends. Messy. Big-eyed. And crass. Sometimes it hits the mark and sometimes it's way off base. Sound familiar tv fans?

If you don't want to hear from people then close ranks and stop comments. You want to be in the world or above it?

Unlikely Optimist said...

There's a huge difference between the behaviour of normal people disagreeing and a corporate shill. For one thing, the corporate toadies are required to hit certain talking points over and over and over again. Which they do. Rote and ritual.

I'm sure there are honest people disagreeing with the points of view here. Disagreement is not the quality of a paid troll. Rabid, defamatory, vicious behaviour driven by zealotry cut quicker to the paid troll's character than rational disagreement.

When tons of 'anonymous' comments come in parroting the same phrases, word for word, can we really say they're expressing honest disagreement anyhow? Even if you take the cynical view and believe that they're just so fully indoctrinated to the AMPTP's view that they hold the 'average salary', the 'you got paid once stop asking for more' and 'IATSE hates you' talking points to be gospel truth-- well that just downgrades them from minimum-wage propaganda agents to volunteer propaganda agents. God help us if we really have descended to the point where people create 'street teams' to defend Redstone of their own volition.

In the same vein I am sure there are people being paid to impersonate writers and defame them by portraying them in a negative light. There are certain talking points you can pick out amongst those (mostly criticizing and denegrating the people supporting them) as well. And there are likely writers doing an honest job of defaming themselves. It's all a very dirty and complex business meant to create spite and discomfort that silences honest discussion.

Either way what they did to that kid was uncalled for. Maybe it's just more of a comfort to believe that no one would do that without at least getting paid. Call me an optimists when it comes to human nature, but it's easier on my digestion to believe that kind of vicious attack on innocence comes from a hired gun than some idiot who has nothing better to do than browse webpages looking for people to crush.

Anonymous said...

Why don't you just start showing IP addresses with every anon post if you're that worried about the corporate troll?

If you get blocks from the same address or lots of postings that seem to be routed through Chile then you might have a problem.

Anonymous said...

"This is just a case of the rich trying to get richer...."

Thanks for providing an example of what the trolls/plants have to say.

English Dave said...

Another anon -
''The average working writer in this business makes well over $200,000 per year....and yet nobody even cares about any of us other crew members who are all out of work,''

How many times has it got to be explained that many if not most writers earn less in a year than the some of the crew?

Okay can the next troll stand up and say 'well they must be crap and should get a real job then'

No one cares you say? Read any message board with genuine participitants. You'll see that is far from the case.

And if you really are genuine, have a think about this. Do you think if the IATSE were on strike, WGA members would bombard their strike website with crass, ill thought out, plain wrong and entirely negative comments. I think not.

VC said...

Seems this article has drawn the trolls here. Too bad. This is the only place I have not seen them before.

Ignore, just ignore.

Good luck at the talks today!

janthonyjackson said...

anon @ 7:59
I was under the impression that they went back to the table today. As in, they're at the table right now.

As for trolls, I never heard of 'corporate trolls' before, I just figured trolls were people spured by their own petty systems of justification. And some of my good friends spend too long playing MMORPGs, or say MarioGalaxy, it doesn't make them disgusting human beings.

As for the posts I've seen on this topic, none appear to be trolls. Of course, trolls wouldn't post on a post about trolls.

In my years of internet experience, the best option is simply ignoring them. And as for 'the public,' well the only public reading these blogs are those familiar with internet trolls and they know to ignore them.

Otherwise, good luck and I hope something good happens this week.

Doctor Science said...

IMHO you're using sloppy language, which makes it hard to sort out the problems the site is seeing.

"Trolls" are not the same as "sockpuppets", and you're seeing both here.

The cure for sockpuppetry is fairly straightforward: no anonymous posts, or as anonymous @8:58 said, log and display IP addresses.

The real problem is that this industry is largely based on reputation and thus cowardice, so most of you on all sides are too scared to use even a pseudonym. The result: anonymous, anonymous, and his very good friend anonymous. Since I've long had the habit in other fora of skipping over anonymous comments -- because of the high probability that they're trollish, cowardly, or just plain stupid -- it makes keeping up here pretty easy.

But m.o.i.:
is it plausible to think that there are hordes of folks paid by corporate to mine the internet for content, comment on it, and then get paid?

When there's this kind of money at stake? Yes.

tube talk girl said...

I had no idea there were "paid" trolls. I've had a few strange posters at my site, but I didn't realize that networks pay people to rebuff any negative comments I post about the shows.

unlikely optimist said...

The real problem is that this industry is largely based on reputation and thus cowardice, so most of you on all sides are too scared to use even a pseudonym. The result: anonymous, anonymous, and his very good friend anonymous.

In my case it's that I don't feel like attracting trolls and DDOSes back to my own section of the interweb highway; that's my selfishly wanting to shelter my readers and consumers from unnecessary exposure to corrosive and expensive attacks on our peaceful little company.

I've had experience firsthand with hired trolls: I'm not willing to go through that again. Handing out IPs seems like a good idea until the IPs become targets. A shill can make an account as easily as a real person can, and would be more likely to.

Corruption of perceived reality is nothing new. In the end the only real solution is to learn to separate talking points from reality and use one's own judgement.

But, you know, logins work too :)

John Aboud said...

I want to thank people like "kelly/zmortis" who have genuine disagreements or alternative viewpoints and who express them rationally and earnestly. We set up this site to live up to its name, United Hollywood, and to hear the genuine viewpoints of everyone affected by the shift to a digital entertainment business. There are trolls and astroturfers out there, and I think most readers here are smart enough to spot them. Laeta's post is for all of our many readers who are new to this kind of web site (hi, mom!) who don't know about these things.

And thanks to all of the smart, active readers here who are so quick to get the facts out when astroturfers do pop up.

Anonymous said...

Those who fall on the studio side of this issue remind me of people who complain about the salary of pro athletes. Salaries are commensurate with what the market can bear. Money is being made--regardless of creative accounting practices something has to keep these studios afloat and it certainly isn't the private savings of its execs--so the choice falls between keeping the money in the hands of an elite few, or spreading it around to those who are an integral part of this business.

If studios can afford to pay actors enormous salaries, if studios can afford to maintain an international infrastructure that continues to grow in both size and complexity, if the ad budgets keep rising and if the cost of business continues to be routinely absorbed and expanded by the execs, then writers are entitled to a fair share of all this money being shuttled around.

As an author who worked as a screenwriter for a former Hollywood exec, I know how insanely difficult it is to get them to part with their money. The amount is never the issue. It's an obsession with penny-pinching that seems only to extend to the non-glamorous; I say "obsession" because the amount of money has no bearing on whether execs will hand it over to the lowly writer. I had to fight for an extra thousand dollars during my brief tenure in the movie industry, a ridiculously paltry sum by any standard, even more ridiculous when you're dealing with multi-million dollar budgets.

Studios seem to operate under a blitzkrieg ethos. All-out warfare regardless of the territory, strategic importance, or opposition. Whether it's the collective insecurity and egomania of those individuals shrewd and power-hungry enough to make it to the top of the studio ladder, or a hostility born from the jealous rage of non-creative types toward their creative counterparts, we'll never know. But ultimately it doesn't matter what the cause. The result is the same: Creative theft. Using a writer's work without adequate compensation--in any medium--is theft. Until the execs can write their own material, pay the writers.

Christian M. Howell said...

Hey, try an IT forum or message board. You'll have a new definition of troll.

I tend to heckle them pretty well so I'll make it a point to keep an eye out here.

Anyway, I support the writers. I support myself. I support all who suffer under corporate greed.


To anonymous 1, the average WORKING WRITER may make that much, but most writers are unemployed at any given time so that number is affected by the few 6 or 7 figure sales.

I mean take 2 writers. One makes $1M, one makes $100K.

First, taxes take close to 50% (depending on your structure), then your agent gets 10%, your manager gets 5%, your lawyer gets 10%.

That means the individual who made $1M can only see 25% ($250K)of that check, while the one who made $100K can only see $25K.

You take the average of those an you get $275K \2 = $137K. That's very skewed since one guy only made $25K.

I'd rather pay a writer than an athlete. At least writers HAVE to keep learning. Athletes can be rich idiots their whole life.

Kelly said...

I think the WGA should thank you anonymous. Even if you are not a member, you are able to finally call a spade a spade. There is more money out there, the writers as creators want a bigger piece of the pie because the pie is huge. Nothing wrong with that, and you’ve called it fairly. This isn’t about poor against rich, this isn’t about unfair working conditions, or a living wage. This is about talent being competitively compensated for their contribution. Now why is that so hard for the WGA members to admit.

That being said, I will say that I am as unsympathetic as I am about professional sports figures who claim they want a bigger paycheck too. The difference is the professional sports players don’t pretend to be in poverty, or that their fight is for the little guy. They say it like it is. They are the talent, and they are worth what the market will pay. If the general public thinks their salary is outrageous, stop watching sports. The same can be said of the WGA, ask for more money, I’m not faulting you for that. If I think you’re overpaid, I will stop watching your product.

Thank you for your consideration.

Zmortis@gmail.com

Matt Wayne said...

Probably worth noting: Average income is nonsense. If you take all the income in the US and divide it by the number of workers, you get a huge 6-figure income for every worker. Doesn't make it so.

The important number for writers here is the median income, which is zero.

m.o.i.@ warrior ant press said...

re: Doctor Science "when there's this much money involved"

Since when has corporate not tried to get people to do things that aren't in their best interest? It's always been about the money unless you make it about something else. They won't. You can.

I'm not saying don't fight for the best contract you can get. Yes, do that. If you want the public to side with you then talk issues because that's what matters to people. That and how they're going to make their mortgage payment.

English Dave said...

kelly - I think the WGA should thank you anonymous. Even if you are not a member, you are able to finally call a spade a spade.'

You get paid 90 grand a year as a 'Government' writer? Whatever the hell that is?

And you're bitching about entertainment writers who generally earn far less?

Yeah. Okay.

Steve Lin said...

It doesn't matter what any of the writers make. You salary or net worth doesn't make it right for the media companies to pay zero residuals off of streaming or downloads over the internet.

When the media companies make money, the people that helped to make that show or movie a reality deserve to be compensated, regardless of how it was delivered to the consumer.

Anonymous said...

"The difference is the professional sports players don’t pretend to be in poverty, or that their fight is for the little guy."

Have you even read anything about this strike?? The whole point of it is that many many writers on the low end ARE in poverty. They are the little guy.

One of the WGA board members has said that the median (not average) income of WGA members is about $5000 per year. You don't see that as the little guy?

Anonymous said...

I guess I'm one of those trolls (though I sure as hell ain't getting paid). I'm anonymous because I'm too damn lazy to start a blog...

As a writer (though not a WGA member) and as someone who has been on the picket line every day (which brings the question of why are there only approximately only half of the WGA membership actually walking on the picket line) I do it because I believe in the WGA cause. This does not mean I can't disagree with someone's point of view or their methods to "move" me to how they think.

By voicing MY opinion it does not make me a shill for the AMPTP, it only means I have an opinion different than the speaker (or writer as the case may be).

Last I heard, I'm still entitled to think for myself.
And I do and will continue to do so.

Anonymous said...

I have no sympathy for the riters and theyre cause. I could do just as goode a job. i wont miss theyre crap they rite. Im gonna look at a book insted, soon as I can figur out howe to get it inta the DVD machene.

English Dave said...

' guess I'm one of those trolls (though I sure as hell ain't getting paid). I'm anonymous because I'm too damn lazy to start a blog...

As a writer (though not a WGA member) and as someone who has been on the picket line every day '

Really? You've been on the picket line every day?

Yet you still want to post this bullshit?
Um Okay.

Anonymous said...

Oh my god, if I hear another person whine about "those poor innocent people who can't work because of the writer's strike" I am going to scream.

Just as anybody else, there is work out there. You just have to dirty your hands a little, maybe do something that "normal" people do.

The writers want to write and get paid for it.

If someone else loses a job because of it, they should perhaps join the strike or get a new job?
It's not like they suddenly become homeless...

Please, all of you who think writers are spoiled, take a look around cause there are plenty of spoilt people everywhere...

Except that those who fight for their rights are worthy of respect. Even if it means taking a job less respectful.

Splotchy said...

Sure, there's a possibility that some of the anonymous commenters flinging poo are in the employ of a media corporation, but I'd wager a dollar that most are random boneheads throwing insults for free. We call them "hecklers" (or worse).

Welcome to the F'in Internet.

Glickla said...

I.A. union members DO benefit from residuals -- they are paid directly into the Health and Pension plans to the tune of more than $300 million a year.

Glickla said...

WRITERS DO CARE ABOUT THE CREW MEMBERS... I.A. made a deal last year with the AMPTP, if any Union or Guild gets residuals for the internet, YOU can negotiate to get residuals too. Residuals are when feeds your health and pension plans to the tune of over $300 million a year. If the studios get to call the internet "not TV," the residuals will all disappear when TV disappears, replaced by internet delivery, and then all your health & pension goes away.

Glickla said...

To Crew Member Local 44:

I am sorry for anybody whose show is getting shut down, but it is the AMPTP, the Big Six, who are to blame for leaving negotiations and for not even taking them seriously until we went on strike. Their offers were to GET RID OF Pension & Health -- something I'm sure you would never want your Union to do.

Glickla said...

To Kelly:
Yes, some WGA members, like Shonda Rhimes, make $10 million a year. About half of all WGA members are unemployed at any given time. I personally had to take a 50% pay cut last year to keep my job the second season of a show because the budget kept getting cut back. Salaries are down to about 60% of what they were 10 years ago. Unlike other unions, writers do not have seniority -- that is why many writers get "aged out" and have a shorter career span, as opposed to, say, a DP or grip. I am 40. I grossed $130K this year (remember 10% off the top goes to agents). My husband was unemployed. I have three kids, two in nursery school and one in public school. We have two cars, an 04 minivan and an 01 sedan. I don't know if I'm average, but I sure don't want to lose my health insurance.

Glickla said...

ZMORTIS@GMAIL:
"If I think you’re overpaid, I will stop watching your product."
Ah, but it is not "my" product. I am a worker and I don't own it. The Big Six studios (the AMPTP) own the product. The CEOs of those six corps make between $20 and $42 million a year. I think that is overpaid.

Anonymous said...

English Dave:

Just what "bullshit" have I posted?

signed,
Anonymous 11:55am

And if you doubt I've (and still am) been on the picket line everyday (today it was 6am to 9am at CBS Radford), you can come discuss it in person, I'll be there waiting.

odocoileus said...

Kelly,

the truly rich writers, people like Shonda Rimes, Mark Cherry, David Koepf, are giving up income by going on strike. They do stand to earn a lot from residuals, but they would do so with or without a Guild contract. They're stars, and the studios will meet their demands in order to work with them.

What's at issue is whether or not the rank and file writers can have some of the same benefits. The studios would love to just split off the star writers (and actors and directors) and give them a sweet deal while screwing over everyone else.

With all the above the line unions, WGA, SAG, and DGA, most of the members at any given time are out of work.

Most members, the great majority, aren't even close to being rich.

Keep in mind also that 100k a year doesn't go as far in LA as it does in small town America. If you want a decent 3 bedroom house in a community with decent schools and only occasional gunplay, you're looking at a million dollars minimum.

Those TV staff writers who are lucky and talented enough to make 200 k a yr live comfortably, but they watch their pennies. They have no guarantee of a job from this season to next.

Rach said...

"The average working writer in this business makes well over $200,000 per year....and yet nobody even cares about any of us other crew members who are all out of work, (right before the holidays) who live paycheck to paycheck."
From the start the corps have been trying to play off the sympathy of the crew members. This is so played at this point - mostly because when you talk to a crew member as bummed as they are they almost always support the cause and if they feel hostility it's towards the studios.

Another dead giveaway is the talking point on how much the "average" writer makes per year. Over and over again when we all know that the mean is meaningless because of outliers.


It's just all the same talking points that have been shelled out by the AMTPT from the beginning.

Most of us know that many writers ARE producers. See: The Office and 30 Rock. So congratulations. You get to blame the writers twice, and the AMTPT is never mentioned. Clever.

I'm not saying all people are astroturfers, or even most. I'm saying it's easy to spot them when you see them.

I haven't heard any of the crew talking in points like this, it's a dead give away. You're overpaid.

unlikely optimist said...

Yeah, and I might take an extra hard look at the people who keep saying, 'Oh I must be a troll because I disagree' despite several people pointing out that it is NOT simply disagreement that points to someone being astroturf. It is rote and ritual regurgitation of AMPTP strategy combined with shrill attack-dog attitudes that put people in suspicion of being paid to disrupt things. Doth someone protest too much?

Anon 11:55: If you are not a guild member, and you are going to the picket lines every day and carrying with you the attitude that the strike is wrong and the writers are spoiled brats who should give up and who aren't giving it their all anyhow, then-- seriously, fella, you should put in for a paycheck at whichever Big Six you're pouting in front of. Maybe they'll validate you somehow, at least for the parking.

What's the point of standing with people if you're really standing against them? Soak up the love and donated donuts in public and then privately try to run their morale down under cover of anonymity? Dude. Just stay home and try to write yourself a personality with better moral fiber.

Angel said...

"This is about talent being competitively compensated for their contribution. Now why is that so hard for the WGA members to admit."

On what planet have you been on?

It seems I am unable to go anywhere on this blog without coming across the WGA members who are posting and commenting mentioning it. The handy "Why We Fight" video details it all completely, and that has been up since almost day 1.

I have yet to see any WGA member demonstrating that fair compensation is anything but the absolute top and foremost reason strikes are up.

So if this information is absolutely everywhere and stated whenever possible, I think it can be safely said that this isn't a statement that WGA members are deluding themselves with.

Ang Li Cru said...

Wow! Had to comment about anonymous at 12:40's post.

Your comment, to quote you back to you, made me want to scream.

The below-the-line crew members are the hardest hit by this strike, and yet we have no voice in the strike at all.

Many of us support the writers, but very few support the strike. And it's not just because it affects us so immediately and so harshly. It's because many of us feel that BOTH sides of the negotiation severely mishandled the bargaining session.

Also, I have to stress - again - that negotiations stopped when the Writers picketed. I'm not ignoring the fact that it was the AMPTP that walked away from the table. But people should also not ignore the fact that it was the Writers' walkout that caused this to happen.

I am extremely happy that negotiations are back underway and hopeful that they lead to a swift resolution.

Anon claims that "its not like [crew members] suddenly become homeless." Umm, in the strictest sense, that's true. But if this strike lasts for more than a couple of months, foreclosures are going to start rolling in for a lot of crew members.

This strike is sending THOUSANDS of crew workers to the unemployment lines. Do you really think that there are THOUSANDS of decent paying jobs ready to be scooped up by people with varying skill sets?

We're in the middle of an economic downturn and a mortgage crisis. People in Southern California (and elsewhere) have lost tens of thousands of dollars of equity in their homes, just at a time when a nice HELOC would have come in handy.

Finally, IA pension benefits are great, and I'm not downplaying them. But, PLEASE, stop saying that they are the same (or even similar to) residuals.

I am not disagreeing with the Writers' request for their residuals, but these simply are not the same thing as pension benefits.

When a Writer gets a residual check, it's immediate, it's bigger than my pension contribution (deservedly so), and the Writer can do whatever he wants with it. It is a cash payment -- please don't pretend that our benefits are equal.

Thanks.

Anonymous said...

unlikely optimist:

Correct. I am not a guild member. Nor do I need the WGA membership to validate me. I am, however, a working screenwriter - independent, outside the studio system. As such, I support the goals of the union in its fight with the AMPTP because the stance the WGA has taken is the right course of action. Does this mean I agree with everything that is being done or with the words of the many posters pro and con here at United Hollywood? No, it doesn't. Does it mean that I'm on the side of the AMPTP because I disagree with some of sentiments expressed in various blogs, et al? Again, no it doesn't.

Does this make me a negative person? Ummmm...no, it doesn't (Well, okay, I could be a negative person, but that's a personality trait having nothing to do with my views on the strike) I'm curious though, where did you come up with this shit:

Anon 11:55: If you are not a guild member, and you are going to the picket lines every day and carrying with you the attitude that the strike is wrong and the writers are spoiled brats who should give up and who aren't giving it their all anyhow, then-- seriously, fella, you should put in for a paycheck at whichever Big Six you're pouting in front of. Maybe they'll validate you somehow, at least for the parking.

NOTHING I've posted would indicated how I feel about the strike (though I'll confess, I'm actually pro strike and am slightly more militant about what I think the WGA should be negotiating for from the AMPTP.

So, explain where you came up with your views about what I've posted...

Or, alternatively, share with me whatever you're smoking and will float on the strike line together rather than walk it...

Anonymous said...

"Also, I have to stress - again - that negotiations stopped when the Writers picketed. I'm not ignoring the fact that it was the AMPTP that walked away from the table. But people should also not ignore the fact that it was the Writers' walkout that caused this to happen."

Didn't the studios walk away from the table before the picketing started? The negotiations were late Sunday, and the picketing in LA started monday morning.

And I don't get all the complaining about mentioning that money from the back end goes to the IA health and pension funds. Sure, it's a bit different. But still, a DVD is sold and the writers get a cut, and you get a cut. If you're unhappy that it's going into your pension, take that up with the head of your union. I'm sure the studios couldn't care less where it goes as long as the amount they pay out is the same.

And don't forget that the result of this strike will likely set a precedent that will affect how much (if any) the union crews get from internet, and more on DVDs.

Good article here (although I disagree with his idea that the writers should settle for less):
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jonathan-handel/reflections-on-residuals_b_73908.html

Anonymous said...

And of course unitedhollywood, if you can't prove that, you are just making up stuff hoping to win support for your side.

Anonymous said...

Kelly, of course you are allowed to disagree, no one has said otherwise. However you shouldn't take too much offense when people within the industry (I am not a writer but work in entertainment here in LA) correct some of the misinformation that you are hanging your arguments on. Pay structures and the way creative rights are handled in this business can be very confusing to an outsider. Your information is incomplete. I am sure that my opinion on your profession, with no real knowledge of the details, would be similarly lacking in depth.

Mainly what I am getting from your posts is a very strong whiff of envy. You chose a safe, steady route. The safest: a government job. Surely you must be aware of the stereotype of the lazy government worker who gets every major holiday and has their post for life regardless of skill. Then again, that’s a stereotype, much as the rich overpaid writer is. Please do not begrudge success to those who risked everything for their dreams. Entertainment is a risky career, everyone knows that. That isn't the point.

The WGA has been very upfront about claiming their rightful percentage of the pie they helped to bake, as anyone would in any industry. Despite your derision, they are also fighting for the little guy at the same time. The two goals do not cancel each other out. The reason the WGA took its case to the public via the internet is mainly due to the failure of the mainstream media to cover the story, given it's ownership by the corporations who are on the opposing side.

By the way, it may interest you to know that similar residual agreements for internet usage were easily negotiated without strife in Europe, mainly because European studios/networks chose to compensate their talent rather than force a labour strike. I guess it is part of the US corporate culture to try to bilk the cow and still get the milk.

Ang Li Cru said...

anon at 2:59 -

Thanks for the huffington link. It was a good article, and I think we are pretty much on the same page about the residuals vs pension.

At least, I agree with the Handel statement that "residuals matter to IA members, but in an attenuated way."

I was merely reacting to comments which seemed to equate the IA residuals with the WGA residuals (and further interpreted as though the IA residuals were something to live off of during a strike).

In hindsight, it's really more of a splitting hairs thing than an outright complaint.

As far as the timing of the halt of negotiations, the timeline, as I understand it, is something like this:

- Heavy negotiations by both sides during the final week of October.

- WGA MBA expires midnight, October 31. WGA has strike authorization, but chooses to keep negotiating through the weekend. A Strike deadline is given as 12:01am, Pacific Time, November 5.

- Sunday, November 4, WGA removes DVD residual demand from the table. AMPTP is shocked. Negotiations continue up until Midnight. AMPTP asks that WGAE not activate picketers, as progress is being made. WGAE calls strike anyway. AMPTP leave in a huff.

As I said, I hardly excuse the AMPTP from blame. They walked out. But if WGA had not activated the strike -- had they waited maybe one more day, or one more week -- a strike MAY not have been necessary at all.

Instead, the WGA did strike, which in turn gave AMPTP "justification" for walking away from the bargaining table, and it has taken 3 full weeks to get them back to the table.

J.K. Mahal said...

Don't know if anyone has already pointed this out, but it is possible to moderate / approve comments in Blogger. I could understand why you might not want to do that, but it is a possibility if you want to limit the trolls.

Anonymous said...

Hey anonoymous at 3:21, you may not be a writer but you certainly have that elitist entertainment industry bullshit attitude. How dare you claim that anyone who took a safe job is envious of the writers? Some people want that security, and you may find this hard to believe - but may actually enjoy their job and are good at it. Not everyone wants to be in the entertainment industry, where employment is unstable. You are about as stuck-up as others on this site who have no right to be stuck up, which include a subpar VH-1 comic, a person who wrote all of two episodes of Cold Case, and someone who wrote a few shitty FOX and WB shows. Almost laughable that they even call themselves "writers". They should take a government job.

Anonymous said...

Anon 4:18, why so much cursing because someone has a different view that you do? All that commenter was saying was that many here do not know the ins and outs of an industry that they aren't a part of. How does that make that comment stuck up or elitist? I don't expect the writers to know my biz either. But everyone here talks as if they know what it is to work in showbiz as a writer, even if they don't. That's just silly.
If you check Kelly's posts she started the thread of "choosing a steady job over creative writing". Lots of people make that choice. But she did state it. You think WGA members never worked other jobs before making their living writing?

Anonymous said...

Anyone notice how LONG these comments are getting? This is what happens when writers are out of work. No notes! No edits! No censorship! Too much time on our hands!

If any development executives are reading these postings they're probably saying, "See? This is what I deal with day after day..."

A little self-discipline, people? A little word-diet?

Anonymous said...

"The average working writer in this business makes well over $200,000 per year....and yet nobody even cares about any of us other crew members who are all out of work, (right before the holidays) who live paycheck to paycheck."

If this isn't the Nick Counter chief talking point, I don't know what is. Go ahead and claim you're not a troll but this proves otherwise.

You know what really cracks me up? That all people talk about is losing their houses. Foreclosures. Not being able to pay the mortgage. Well, guess what, crew people -- I don't have an effing house, so you're one up on me. And I have never made $200,00 a year, either. I've gone YEARS without employment. And I will bet you that the time we've already been out has affected me far, far more than it's affected you. I have about two more months before my money runs out. You?

You could be a crew guy, but that doesn't mean you're not a troll.

Good luck with your mortgage, buddy.

To any angry, fed-up crew member who wants us all to die -- most crew members have been gracious and understanding. They've been supportive. They've been out there picketing. I've apologized face to face to various crew members, and I've thanked them effusively for their support. Yet my vote was one of many. I am not part of the leadership. I am not personally responsible for the hardship that may befall you. But you know what? You wouldn't give a damn about me if the situation were reversed. So why shouldn't I be thinking about myself? It's what you would do.

What's up with the double standard?

Anonymous said...

I think both sides don't have the facts here.

Anonymous said...

I wonder what will happen when writer and crew get back on the stage. Will there be anger, resentment, hostility? Interesting times.

flummoxed said...

There seem to be a lot of people reading this blog who are new to how the industry works. I'm glad you're getting the opportunity to learn more about it from the people in it.
One area I'm acquainted with is trying to find work outside the industry. Having 15 year's experience in post-production weighs a resume down.
Thinking I had some client service and project management chops any employer could use, I happily listed with several Valley and LA temp agencies. My phone was not ringing. One recruiter finally told me, "Our clients don't want to hire you entertainment people, because they know you'll leave as soon as an entertainment job comes up." Another Valley agency said, "I don't know how to place you." I twice took jobs back in the industry just to keep the rent paid, after sending out hundreds of resumes to non-entertainment companies.
The irony is that as hard as this industry can be to break into, it can be equally hard to break back out.

GottaloveDwight said...

writers deserve any amount they are getting, they deserve it because it's what they created. Believe it or not, their creations bring joy and laughter to so many people, (the office sure has brought me and my family together even if it is just a show) and in this time and age we need all the laughs we can get.

so even if a writer does make $200,000 they earned it, wouldn't you want to be compensated for any type of work you did? Complainers STOP complaining and just bring back the office for God's sakes!!

Anonymous said...

You know, I started out this morning by making a comment regarding my opinion..as we all have the right to do.
I will state it very simply one last time...I do not support the strike.
I do not support either side.
I am not pointing my finger at either party saying it is their fault.
The plain and simple fact is....alot of people are out of work because of it.

But the "writers" here in this blog just want to censor anybody that has a different opinion than them...call us trolls, astroturfers, sock puppets.
Quite frankly, I dont give a damn what you call me.
I am a 26 year member of local 44, a Prop Master who is out of work because of the strike.

People....it's OK if we all don't agree with each other.
Lets just get this thing settled so we can all get back to work.

Now, if you will excuse me....there is a bridge that I have to go climb under to wait it out.

Kelly said...

In reply to various people who have commented on my posts. I think I am getting a clearing picture of how your “industry” operates. I am also hopefully starting to get a couple of my points across. Point one - from a public relations standpoint I have been stating that the writers had not been making a solid case to the American public as to how they are being treated unfairly. The WGA had been making their case in industry terms of residuals and percentages. The general American populace is not paid in those terms so they do not know how to relate them to their experience. I have pointed out that converting that into the terms of annual income for WGA members would make a more persuasive case, and in a few cases an unverified amount has been stated. Some people have been stating a mean income of $5000 dollars, some people have been stating that many writers are working (or not working) for $0 dollars a year. This is doing better at getting your case across to the American public.

It is also pointing out that there is frankly not enough work for all of the registered WGA members. Too many people are trying to compete with each other for too few jobs. It seems to me that the WGA members are almost their own worst enemy. You’ve created a marketplace for your talents that is overcrowded, this has unfortunately given the studio “moguls” a huge bargaining advantage. Why would any studio give you a cut of residuals if someone else is willing to work for $5000 a year. You are undervaluing your talents, and the studio system is taking advantage of it. I will say this again, I am in favor of all of those making the median income to continue this strike until they are fairly paid.

That being said, one problem with your negotiation approach is that is will not make things significantly better for the people down at the lower end. Sure they will see a small increase, but the members of the WGA at the upper end of the pay scale are going to see a huge increase. There’s an obvious example of talent being paid what it’s worth within the WGA, and it seems to me that the well off top 10% are getting a much better deal with residuals than the rest of the WGA. Once again it seems from my perspective that looking after the little guy is not the purpose of these contract negotiations. Its about increasing the profit margin for the top 10% under the cover of helping out the little guy. Now if you were going to show how the WGA was going to take all residuals and divide them evenly among your membership, then I may agree this is about helping the little guy. Otherwise I still see it mostly as well paid talent asking for more money. Once again, I don’t find anything wrong with that, but call it what it is.

Thank you for your consideration

zmortis@gmail.com

unlikely optimist said...

The thing I find so funny here is that the concept of residual payments is being used to undermine public support for writers and creative staff, when the studios themselves benefit most from the residual system. It used to be that the studio was the only entity that really suffered when a release went poorly or a show tanked, because everyone else involved had already been paid. Now they spread the loss around.

Only, they don't want to spread the benefit around.

The DVD deal was based on the VHS deal, which was a plea to creative staff to take a FURTHER pay cut in order to grow the home video market when it was still new and uncertain. Now, when the VHS market has not just grown up, but spawned a bouncing baby market on DVD, they want to keep the same deal in place they asked for when they weren't sure home video would be a market at all.

If the studios really thought residuals were wrong, folks, why would they bother calling streaming video 'promotions'? They know they're screwing their crews. If they really thought no one had a right to be paid for the use of their work when it's on the network, they'd just say, 'It's not covered by your contract, so, suck it.' They're using this tortured 'promotional material' logic because they CAN'T justify separating network broadcast from any other broadcast from which they make ad revenues. They see here an opportunity to devalue the work of their creative teams, and widen the profit margins, and we've all stood by and watched while they move more and more of their focus to an internet-based entertainment economy.

Nobody's trying to censor anybody, as already mentioned there has always been the option to censor and delete anything the moderators wanted to. What you're essentially doing with these accusations of censorship and pretending no one disagrees is villify people for calling it like they see it when they see foul play afoot. It'd be more convincing if there were anyone at all saying what you keep accusing them of saying.

Anon 11:55: I may have conflated your comments with those of a different Anonymous, it can be hard to tell them apart. That's one of the drawbacks of anonymity. Apologies if that's so, because honestly that's what it looked like from this end.

Owen Thomas said...

Kelly, oddly enough, I've seen the "you're not taking care of the writers at the lower end" argument in another forum, a couple weeks ago, with regard to the TV show "Lost." A poster who disagreed with the strike, quite vehemently, used a similar argument, that an increase in residuals helps writers at the upper spectrum more than it helps writers in the lower spectrum.

In essence, this argument is just a reworded "rich get richer" argument, which is the hallmark of all those who seem to oppose the writers in their effort to earn a fair (and awfully miniscule) piece of an enormously profitable new media pie.

Unfortunately, the argument holds no water.

Why? First, every member of the WGA will sign the same contract and receive the same benefits, generically speaking, so across the board, everyone's receiving the same thing.

Second, success is success. If a writer happens to create a TV program like "Seinfeld" and reaps the benefits of that lucky strike for years to come. Well, that's his or her success to enjoy.

That same writer, for 20 years, could have been struggling to get something produced, or worked on board TV series that were 6 episodes and out (and never rebroadcast).

Reaching your full potential is the American way. Should Bill Gates share his fortune with every other computer programmer out there, just because he happened to "create" Windows? That's a stretched example, but you get the picture.

I can almost gaurantee to you, too, that the vast majority of writers who have found success in Hollywood know what a paycheck to paycheck to waiting tables while I churn out scripts life is like. They also know that, overnight, one of those writers could catch lightning with a unique idea. And they know that they have to protect those ideas from being plundered, pillaged and pimped by corporate America.

But back to your original argument about how the strike "will not make things significantly better for the people down at the lower end" of the WGA's salary spectrum.

I'm honestly curious about where this idea was first generated, because it is amazing that it carries that Rovian feeling of being generated as a talking point.

Think back about all you've read, seen and heard. Where did you pick up this idea? How did that seed germinate in your mind?

Because it seems to be one that's growing like a weed. One that smells like a talking point.

Kelly said...

In response to Owen Thomas, the main difference between what I am saying and what has been said on that other web site, is that I have never indicated that I thought the WGA is wrong about striking for their fair share. I have time and again in my various posts here on the subject defended their right to strike for whatever amount they can get. I have been challenging the way the WGA has been presenting their side of the argument to the American public as being unfortunately sometimes counterproductive to their cause. How that equates to not supporting or trying to undermine the WGA I have no idea. My opinions have been presented in the attempt to provide public relations advice to people who sometimes seem a bit too insular and out of touch with how a segment of the American public evaluates these kind of situations.

Once again in simple form:

Point one - present uncolored facts about the pay situation for WGA members in terms the average American can understand (i.e. annual salary, or hourly wage equivalents).

Point two -avoid flamboyant and inflammatory rhetoric, it worsens your case more than makes it.

Point three - don’t pretend that the people who stand to gain the most from these negotiations are the lowest end of the writers pay scale unless it can be backed up by facts.

Each of these is a valuable opinion to follow if you want to make a sympathetic case to the American public who is more interested that truth than hyperbole. The insult flinging and rude treatment that has being going on I have largely ignored as “Internet Trolls” who don’t represent the WGA, but I do think that people who write for a living might be a bit more receptive to advice about how to get their points made.

Thank you for your consideration

Zmortis@gmail.com

Anonymous said...

Kelly, perhaps you could stop lecturing. The American public gets it and are largely supportive of the writers. I don't think that there is a problem with the public perception at all.

And I think people are beginning to regard you as a troll as you keep touching the same exact points with every email. Almost as if you were working from a script.

You disagree with the WGA, fine. But you have made your points again and again, so what is left to say that you haven't already said?

I think the WGA is making their point(s) just fine.

Anonymous said...

Kelly - "Point three - don’t pretend that the people who stand to gain the most from these negotiations are the lowest end of the writers pay scale unless it can be backed up by facts."

Who is pretending? Where is your proof that it isn't? Why is it reduced to a "who benefits most" scenario? There are plenty of struggling WGA members who should and will benefit from the reselling of their work, i.e. internet residuals. I will give you a name: Mark Cherry in the 7 years in between his writing for Golden Girls and creating Desperate Housewives. I put him up as an example as he has put that information out there already on his own. Why are you asking for proof? Give me your name, address and tax return information, what you pay in rent, number of dependants, etc…on this site for everyone to see and judge and then maybe you will see the names and financial information of writers in the WGA that aren't doing that well. These people did not surrender their right to privacy just because of their occupation. Why are you so demanding? If you disagree, fine. But why press for facts that obviously cannot be released in a public forum? Face it, there are no facts that you would not find fault with as you have already made up your mind.

Anonymous said...

Hey Kelly, just what is a "government writer"? Is that what they call trolls these days? I am a technical writer myself....never heard of a "government writer" before.

Do you like how I judged your industry without having any real knowledge of your profession and standard industry practices?


Thank you for your consideration.

Anonymous said...

m.o.i.@ warrior ant press - yes, thar be trolls. The studios are using the same PR firm, Hill & Knowlton, that helps big Tobbacco sell their wares to kids. Trolls are a common tactic, to deflect attention from the end goal. The studios would rather spend their cash doing that than pay the talent their due.

And the studios would rather put thousands of crew members out of work via layoffs rather than pay the writers too.

The same thing is going to happen when SAG strikes next year. They should just pay and get it over with. They can't win without scripts and without actors.

How cheap and greedy can you get?

Anonymous said...

Kelly Troll "If they really want to make the case to the public about how unfair the pay is for writers, why doesn’t the WGA publish the statistics about the lower end, upper end, mean, average, and mode annual income for their members? "

Because they don't really need to do this. This is a classic troll type deflection question. All writers would benefit from a fair contract, therefore the lower end would benefit. Why is that so hard to uderstand?

Bathory said...

Kelly, Kelly, Kelly...

"It is also pointing out that there is frankly not enough work for all of the registered WGA members. Too many people are trying to compete with each other for too few jobs. It seems to me that the WGA members are almost their own worst enemy. You’ve created a marketplace for your talents that is overcrowded, this has unfortunately given the studio “moguls” a huge bargaining advantage. Why would any studio give you a cut of residuals if someone else is willing to work for $5000 a year. You are undervaluing your talents, and the studio system is taking advantage of it. I will say this again, I am in favor of all of those making the median income to continue this strike until they are fairly paid."

Not that you'll pay any attention because, after all, you're just all about blathering the talking points, but...

It doesn't work that way. The only thing I believe about you is that you work for the government, because you have proven yourself incapable of understanding one thing about how the entertainment industry works. See, writers work freelance. ALL of them. Even if you're on staff on a show, you're essentially freelance. You can be fired, and the show can be canceled. It's not about someone who's willing to work for $5,000 a year. It doesn't work that way. We don't auction ourselves off. We can't say to the studio that we'll give up our residuals and work for five grand. It depends on the work. And we have (or will have, at some point) a contract. The studio will have to abide by that.

As for there being too many writers for too few jobs, erm... seriously? That's not how it works. There are as many writers as there are, and it's the studios which have created the dearth of jobs. You can look up PODs (producers on overall deals), what the different levels for writers are on TV shows, what the minimums are. Go IMDB a show you watch and see the make-up of the staff. Then go IMDB a new show and see the make-up of THAT staff.

Then THINK about it. Seriously, you need to do some of the work yourself, because you aren't understanding ANYTHING right now.

As for the public, I'm fine if we have everyone in our corner except you.

Owen Thomas said...

Kelly,

I see what you're saying, in general. But I'm confused by this statement: "I have been challenging the way the WGA has been presenting their side of the argument to the American public as being unfortunately sometimes counterproductive to their cause."

If you've followed the strike closely, at all, and the way the WGA is presenting it's case to the public, you will discover, in nearly all instances, these simple facts:

1. Writers are currently paid 4 cents with regard to DVD sales.

2. Writers are not paid residuals for new media, like internet downloads off network web sites, which sell ads against those downloads. New media and DVD sales represent more than 60 percent of studio profits.

3. Writers want 8 cents, the first significant raise in 20 years.

4. Writers want residuals with regard to new media.

5. Residuals are not a perk, but the way the entertainment industry pays writers, directors, actors, union crew and other talent.

So what's counterproductive about those facts?

(And you'll have to forgive me, this is really my first foray into the comments -- your "not taking care of the lower end" really stuck out, since I've seen that argument used before)

Anonymous said...

I wish I got paid to debunk news stories...there are just times when writers mix up fiction and news. Not all trolls are bad...now those elves, you gotta watch. We're not talking Santa's elves, but vicious elves with fangs. Trolls, not too bad. Elves = scary.

And venom spitting dwarves are another story all together.

Anonymous said...

I am a concerned party but reading these comments takes longer than doing my taxes. Please pretend you only have sixty seconds...

--Reader

Kelly said...

In response to Owen Thomas - I am not challenging that the information has not been presented factually as you point out. I am merely noting (as many people have helpfully told me) that mostly only people in your industry can relate to those terms. Most Americans don’t work on a consignment basis, most Americans don’t expect future continuing payments for work for which they have been already been paid, and most Americans don’t have careers that are so directly tied to an unstable and overcrowded marketplace. When the WGA puts their case to America, and presumes that everyone either understands the nature of their industry, or that their understanding is not worth obtaining, that is a public relations mistake. A case in point, I saw a news report on CNN this morning (11/28/2007 and taken with a grain of salt of course) that 53% of Americans were behind the WGA’s position. If this report is anywhere near accurate then the WGA is presumably either failing to get their message out, or failing to successfully make their point to 47% of the American populace. Given how unpopular big business concerns tend to be with the American public at large, that is not a great rate of success.

I have tried to give some advice to some WGA members, and have been ignoring the general group of trolls. I will even accept being called a troll. After all I am butting into an area that has no direct concern to me, and maybe people don’t want to hear what I am saying. There is no need to waste time trying to flame me, I’m not one to give much credence to people who are obviously not being constructive in their posts.

All of that being said, as an interested American citizen, who does want to know when an injustice is being perpetrated upon the working class citizen by big business, I have been reading what factual information I can find about the WGA strike. In addition to reading I have been doing some analysis of factual pieces of information being presented, and drawing preliminary conclusions from the fragmentary factual information being provided. I have subsequently presented those preliminary conclusions here in an attempt to gain a larger set of facts, and making corrections to any process errors in my analysis being noted by the constructive people here. I have also stated some of my control conditions for my analysis, and will formally list them below:

1. The WGA has a right to strike.
2. The WGA has a right to negotiate for better pay up to whatever the market will bear.
3. The WGA has a right to present their case to the American public as a means of bringing leverage to their negotiations.
4. The WGA does not have a right to presume that the American people must side with them.
5. The WGA does not have a right to obfuscate or color the facts to make their case to the American public.
6. If the WGA wants the support of the American people, they should be prepared to demonstrate their contention that they are being unfairly treated.

In my posts I have frequently been testing control conditions 5, and 6. I have been allowing for the fact that most people posting here do not have the best interest of the WGA in mind with their replies.

In terms of my analysis this is how your case appears so far as gleaned from the some of the constructive posts here:

There are at least 4 levels of dues paying WGA writer as follows:

Level 1 - the $0 annual income “unemployeed” WGA writer. This person can be considered a dreamer because they are obviously not making a living as a WGA writer. From a going forward basis this WGA member will make $0 off residuals from their work because they haven’t done anything after the new contract being finalized (and I doubt residuals are going to be retroactively applied). So the fact is this writer will initially see no benefit from residuals until they become employable.

Level 2 - the $5000 mean annual income “underemployed” WGA writer. This person can also be considered a dreamer because once again no one in the US can live reasonably on $5000 a year. Either this person is living off someone else’s income, or they have a real career doing something else and being a writer is merely their avocation. So the fact is this writer will most likely only have minimal residual income at best because the “script” they sold as an option never got produced - so there is subsequently no downstream market for their product, or the product did so badly there is no great amount of downstream sales.

Level 3 - the $130,000 annual income “base working” WGA writer. This is the class of writer that in normal American terms actually has a full time paying job as a writer. They work most of a given year, and are paid for their efforts on a continual basis while in employment status. This is the first group of writer that actually has a chance of seeing a decent return from residuals. This will provide a certain level of comfort room in the event they are caught between jobs, but it is likely this member will be able to find work after a cancellation since they already have a successful track record in the industry.

Level 4 - the $10,000,000 annual income “star working” WGA writer. This class of writer is so far above the normal American that they have no way of relating to their jobs. As already posted on this site, these individuals are already able to broker contract deals way above the minimum standards set by the WGA so residuals are most likely already a part of their current deal. They are unlikely to see additional income from those sources as they are already in the downstream income path.

Additional mitigating factors include the following:

1. There are up to 4 kinds of middle men to getting a writing job taking part of a writers pay: agents, managers, lawyers, and the WGA. This raises the writer’s overhead.
2. The marketplace has an overly large supply of writers compared to the current studio demand level which causes increased job uncertainty for all WGA members. This lowers the writer’s bargaining power.
3. Some writers feel they must write or die. This also lowers the writer’s bargaining power.
4. Some writers are willing to enter a fiscally risky profession in exchange for a potential for higher rewards. Once again this lowers the writer’s bargaining power.
5. The media image being presented to the American public looks more like two large corporations fighting each other for more money instead of individuals with poor pay or working conditions. One more time, this lowers the writer’s bargaining power. (Accurate and factual documentary style personal hardship stories from actual WGA members are in reality more compelling than hosts of concerned “Celebrity” endorsements, happy picket lines, and quirky youtube videos.)

If anyone would be willing to provide more facts, or provide constructive factual corrections to my analysis they are welcome. It would likely give the WGA input to improve their image, because so far I’ve been able to build from only fragmentary information. Hopefully this acts as a case in point about how you are viewed by some of the American public when you choose to not do full disclosure.

Thank you for your consideration.

Zmortis@gmail.com

p.s. another hint about the American people. In relation to the Colbert Report writers video, trying to make your point about how bad off you are doing while your 52" flatscreen plasma display is visible on the wall behind you is not very likely to make the normal American think you are suffering under the “moguls”.

English Dave said...

Wow kelly. Are you doing all this on the Governments time? I hope not.

''If anyone would be willing to provide more facts, or provide constructive factual corrections to my analysis they are welcome''

I'll give it a go just for the helluvit.


''There are at least 4 levels of dues paying WGA writer as follows:

Level 1 - the $0 annual income “unemployeed” WGA writer. This person can be considered a dreamer because they are obviously not making a living as a WGA writer. From a going forward basis this WGA member will make $0 off residuals from their work because they haven’t done anything after the new contract being finalized (and I doubt residuals are going to be retroactively applied). So the fact is this writer will initially see no benefit from residuals until they become employable.''


Difficult to factualize opinion. Which is what your statement is. Because a writer makes $0 in a year doesn't make them unemployable. It makes them unemployed. There is a subtle difference. Subtle like the constant drip feeding of your posts.

''Level 2 - the $5000 mean annual income “underemployed” WGA writer. This person can also be considered a dreamer because once again no one in the US can live reasonably on $5000 a year. Either this person is living off someone else’s income, or they have a real career doing something else and being a writer is merely their avocation. So the fact is this writer will most likely only have minimal residual income at best because the “script” they sold as an option never got produced - so there is subsequently no downstream market for their product, or the product did so badly there is no great amount of downstream sales.''

You draw conclusions but want facts? Okay, the fact is a writer may make $5000 one year and $100,000 the next. Again underemployed is your terms. That writer is working hard. Just not getting paid for it. That is the nature of the business. Not the same as yours. We don't all have fat salary checks every month. Something you have to bear in mind. And see ''Level 1''

''Level 3 - the $130,000 annual income “base working” WGA writer. This is the class of writer that in normal American terms actually has a full time paying job as a writer. They work most of a given year, and are paid for their efforts on a continual basis while in employment status. This is the first group of writer that actually has a chance of seeing a decent return from residuals. This will provide a certain level of comfort room in the event they are caught between jobs, but it is likely this member will be able to find work after a cancellation since they already have a successful track record in the industry.''

Where do I start? You obviously know nothing staffing season. Nuff said.

''Level 4 - the $10,000,000 annual income “star working” WGA writer. This class of writer is so far above the normal American that they have no way of relating to their jobs. As already posted on this site, these individuals are already able to broker contract deals way above the minimum standards set by the WGA so residuals are most likely already a part of their current deal. They are unlikely to see additional income from those sources as they are already in the downstream income path.

They are called showruners and very few are on 10 million a year. And ummmm if their individual deals are not already above what will be negotiated then they will benefit.

And if we're drawing conclusions rather than dealing with fact - the conclusion that despite not benefitting from the new deal - by your argument - they still come out on strike - speaks volumes for their sommitment and solidarity with the rest of the writers.

The rest of the claptrap I can't be bothered arguing with. You repeat your same speil ad nauseum on seemingly every thread.

Here's the skinny. The public who are interested enough to have an opinion hold firmly with the writers.

Your deflections and obfuscations don't change that.

And yeah. As you volunteered to give your workplace phone number, spill it. I'd like a personal chat. You've clearly got the time for it.

Anonymous said...

the last post said "Here's the skinny. The public who are interested enough to have an opinion hold firmly with the writers."

What a load of crap.

Keep fooling yourself guys...there are plenty of us out here who are interested enough to have an opinion...that DO NOT support the writers or the strike.

But since none of you want to hear that or even believe it, Im sure that you will just write it off as an opinion of a troll.

Who knew that the "writers" only retort to an actual difference of opinion, would be to resort to name calling?

Shame on you.

English Dave said...

CAPITILIZE ALL YOU WANT.

yOU STILL SOUND LIKE A TOTALASSHOLE. HANGNIGGERS jews and anyone not like me.

Irony aside, fuck you and the horse you rode in on. You will never be a writer. The public know that. Because a writer is the public. They just have a knack for saying it.

Anonymous said...

The writers who mediate this site, should immediately disassociate themselves from that English dave "person".
That is not the kind of person that you want stating your case to the public

Kelly said...

In response to English Dave - I offered to give anyone who wanted to challege whether I was working for the studio executives my full name, and the name of the government agency where I work via a reply e-mail to my Zmortis@gmail.com account. If they would like to call me to verify my identity, all they have to do is do a web search for my agency's main switch board and ask to be transfered to my name. I did not volunteer to give out my phone number. I did not volunteer to have my workplace or full name published here or elsewhere. By having whoever challenges my identity do their own web research on my agency's main switchboard line, they can't claim I gave a bogus number. If anyone is afraid I will bombard you with junk mail, set up a throw away e-mail account with any of a number of free web mail services.

Thank you for your consideration.

zmortis@gmail.com

p.s. zmortis@gmail.com is throw away e-mail acount as mentioned and not linked to my personal identity.

English Dave said...

''Anonymous said...
The writers who mediate this site, should immediately disassociate themselves from that English dave "person".
That is not the kind of person that you want stating your case to the public

November 28, 2007 4:32 PM ''


Firstly I don't speak for the WGA

Secondly, so malignant trolls can come here and spew their disinformation and insults? And writers are supposssed to just sit and take it? And if they don't some troll calls on them to be banned? Haven't seen any calls for bsnning of those coming on here with the sole intention of abusing writers and spreading black propoganda.

Odd that.

Anonymous said...

Just so everybody understands where this is coming from...

English dave wrote:
"yOU STILL SOUND LIKE A TOTALASSHOLE. HANGNIGGERS jews and anyone not like me."

Dave...you shouldn't be banned from just this site....you should be banned from the human race.

If ignorance is bliss...then you must be the happiest insect on the planet.

English Dave said...

Just so everybody understands where this is coming from...

English dave wrote:
"yOU STILL SOUND LIKE A TOTALASSHOLE. HANGNIGGERS jews and anyone not like me."

''Dave...you shouldn't be banned from just this site....you should be banned from the human race.

If ignorance is bliss...then you must be the happiest insect on the planet.''

Okay you didn't get the whole 'irony ' bit that followed. or didn't read it?

I look forward to your notes.