Fact Checking the NYT

While it's flattering that the New York Times would try to bestow such importance on Ms. Kalogridis and -- ahem -- "her friends," Michael Cieply's breathless account misses something obvious. A strike does not come to a possible (repeat, "possible") ending thanks to one person or even one website, no matter how awesome the website.

The outcome of a strike is determined by the strikers. By the sacrifice of thousands who march and pour their emotion and time into the fight.

When the strike ends, it will be because the union as a whole decided to end it. This struggle is about the sacrifices of many, not the phone calls of a few.


Jake Hollywood said...

If even part of the NYT article is correct, and we don't "know" that it is, the flat rate for two years and the percentage in the last year is still a bad deal...and is almost as exactly as I've said it would be [in previous post, etc].

As I've indicated elsewhere, it's still bad enough of a deal that should it come to a vote, I'm saying an emphatic "NO!" to such a proposal.

And it's not that I can afford to stay on strike, it's not. But at this point in time, there's not much point in settling for a bad deal when a good deal can be had if we stay strong.

Tanja Barnes said...

As a podcaster covering the strike I can tell you that it's simply just ethical to only report any news item with what can be substantiated by a second source. I'm not even a trained journalist and I know that. Shame on you NYT!

Having said that, I'm honoring the media blackout and will not point my listeners to anything but the official WGA website and United Hollywood for news and updates.

Repeatedly I've been saying on my podcast that somebody is leaking information in a media blackout and I keep asking who it is.

Now I doubt I have that much voice in the blogosphere, but it may have occurred to Fabiani and Lehane that they need to put a face to this by appointing Eisner out to be some sort of messenger as well. WTF? He's no longer a contender in this game.

Stay strong WGA and consider the source whenever you hear anything and ask yourself: do they have a dog in this fight? Remember the conglomerates own the networks. They also control televised news media. Just sayin'.

My two cents. YMMV.

In solidarity,

whatyouknow said...

The NYT's reportage has been wonky and even misleading throughout the strike. They described "financial core" membership as equivalent to "financial need" -- which is not just wrong but so wrong it's hard to imagine it wasn't deliberate, designed to make writers (and union members in general) feel that financial core status was something invented by unions to give a pass to anyone who simply felt they had a "need" to change their status. You'd think the NYT would know "fi-core" was foist upon unions by pro-business legislation and was designed to give companies a tool for enticing union members to break ranks. How could anyone hired by one of the best papers in the world, ever, not know that in the first place, or know enough to check the facts before they wrote it?

BKLA said...

I find it interesting that the NY times Allegedly knows the terms of the deal before the Membership - in the midst of a news black out.

If the compromise deal does have flat fee in the first year, and a percentage that grows each year (most likely guess: 1% in the Second year and 2% in the third year) it might be enough to persuade the membership to approve. That is, if they eliminate the free use window and use Distributor's gross as the basis for payment. I think a free use window is still a deal breaker.

I think it is also important to see where the studios stand on Jurisdiction for Direct to Web content, and what price thresholds they place on those deals. If it is The same number as in the DGA deal - a lot of wiggle room.

The Saturday meeting will be interesting. Let's hope it's good enough to pass the muster of the membership.

Even if it is not perfect, if significant progress has been made, it will probably be a good idea to move forward. Because so many writers have begun to learn that - just because the studio deals are one way -it does not mean that they have to stop making their own deals in the new media realm.

I think it is important to protect a revenue stream in this transitional period - and not just sit bit and rest on our laurels . We still need to keep moving forward and improving our lot - while hopefully getting the rest of the town back to work. Things will continue to change and move forward even if we have a deal. Hopefully, people in this industry have learned one thing from this strike - you have to keep up and informed on the changes going on in this industry.

But ... Let's see the contract language first. The fight has been too long and to hard to give up before its over.

Unknown said...

I would like to here something from the the leaders or any of the regulars to Michael Eisner's on national TV that our leaders made a handshake deal to end the strike:

This is pasted from today's defamer:

"It's over," Eisner said. "They made the deal, they shook hands on the deal. It's going on Saturday to the writers in general."
Eisner, speaking live on CNBC's "Fast Money," seemed to hesitate initially about whether it was possible that the writers could still reject the agreement, but finally suggested the deal's acceptance was inevitable.
"A deal has been made, and they'll be back to work very soon," Eisner said, adding, "I know a deal's been made. I know it's over."

I hope this isn't true. Any deal that the moguls are so eager to get, that they are gleefully proclaiming the writers are locked into should be treated with great suspicion.

Unknown said...

Also, why is it that we have to hear the proposed deal and voice our opinions on it on the same day, probably within hours or hearing it.

I would prefer to hear the terms and attend a meeting later. That way we would all have time to study the deal points, analyze for ourselves and read the thoughtful analysis of others.

This is something that is going to affect the next 20+ years. We will have to live with it every day for the rest our professional lives.

I am used to having the AMPTP try to cram something down my throat, but let's be careful not to try to do that to each other. Or let the Negs cram it either.

Gary Watts said...

It’s the eleven-hour and isn’t that usually when the Teamsters come to the rescue, after the fight is almost over.


Was the Teamster local ??9 trustee crossing the line today ?


Kiss your 13th and 14th checks goodbye.

Somebody better tell the Teamsters that crossing a picket line does not make it any easer to organize none union workers.

Would you want to get organize by a union who crosses picket lines?

It’s a fair question, and you can get mad at me if you want Leo…but you know I’m right.

~ Gary Watts ~

Unknown said...

The Times article was no more poorly attributed like every other crumb of leaked information we've gotten during the "press blackout" created so the WGA leadership can keep us in the dark about a deal they intend not to ram, but to ease, down our throats, lubricated by the soap the NegCom members were out selling on the picket lines yesterday. I thought I was watching Fox News from all the talking points I heard parroted ad infinitum.

And, oh yeah, Laeta sold us out big-time.

Unknown said...

When the strike ends, it will be because the union as a whole decided to end it. -- John Aboud

Yes, but the outcome can still be manipulated by a select few. In a close vote, the WGA leadership could swing the vote to approval just by calling off the strike.

If we get presented with a shitty new contract to vote on after going back to work, writers will be far less likely to reject it than if we were still out on strike.

VDOVault said...

Personally I think the NYT article referencing Laeta was meant as a kind of back-handed compliment to her and a doubly back-handed compliment to United Hollywood's many other members (whom Cieply conveniently chose not to name, perhaps in an attempt to fan the flames of envy over getting a mention of one's name in the famous 'New York Times' for goodness sakes).

What Cieply actually accomplished is showing how utterly biased and untrustworthy he is and what a disgrace he is to the Old Grey Lady and it's historical reputation for outstanding journalism while putting the emphasis on just how *unified* United Hollywood is.

With that said, each of you in the WGA should take the time to carefully consider exactly what is put in front of you for discussion as well as make careful notation of anything promised to you or any assumptions made that 'ain't on the page' of the agreement. You have the right to make your acceptance of the actual and/or implied terms 100% conditional on the AMPTP meeting your expectations and assumptions. You also have the right to stay out on picket lines and/or keep your pencils down and laptops off until there is a real 'meeting of the minds' between your union and the AMPTP members. Feel free to exercise those rights for as long as your consciences dictate and don't let anyone (and yes that includes the viewing public and the fans) suggest you do otherwise.

Speaking for the fans and viewers the vast majority of us will still watch your works when you get back to making them so take the time you need to get the deal you need and deserve. There really is no substitute for well scripted television or films.

May your individual consciences collectively guide you all to what you need want and deserve.

S.E. Olson
Moderator & Law & Order Criminal Intent Fan Liason

BTL Guy said...

Wouldn't it be great if everyone went into the Saturday meetings with open minds?

Wouldn't it be great if everyone who staunchly defended Verrone and Young and United Hollywood in the beginning kept their allegiance now and listened fairly to what these people might say on Saturday?

I don't expect the Writers to accept a crappy deal.

But there's a difference between "not perfect" and "crappy." We don't know what the deal is yet.

Go in with an open mind and listen to what the leadership says. Then decide. If you decide now (either yes or no), you're basing your vote on vapor....

WGA Comedy Writer said...

If the NYT story is accurate, then I want to thank Laeta for her efforts. Clearly, there are some vocal members of the WGA that will not be happy with any deal and don't understand how devastating voting down this deal would be for the future of our union and the industry. But this is one writer that believes she did us all a great service.

Unknown said...

tanja - thanks for the link to your blog, you have now officially joined the ranks of NF, making hay out of a strike in which you have nothing at stake.

I will, however, agree with your point that journalists report the news, they are not tied to a news blackout between the two sides; the real culprits here are those on both sides that broke the news embargo.

As for the NF post over the Eisner comments: why does everyone take on so over a blogger who doesn't even have the sense to put the comments in context?

Please note that while this article may have reported when those involved wished it hadn't, there is no direct repudiation of the facts.

I, for one, am glad and grateful that some people on both sides had the good sense and the lack of ego to see this thing move forward. If part of the deal is that it is renegged in three years, then holding out further will lose most of us more than we will gain. Reruns are not going to disappear in three years - hell, look how long people have had to go digital and most of them haven't figured it out - next time we do the research, go out with our sisters and brothers in the other unions/guilds and power punch them.

Thank you, L - you are right that the sacrifice was on the line but you helped make sure that sacrifice was not for naught.

JimBob said...

The only "free use" window I could agree to is one where a given bit of content is put out there on the 'net and fails to create some agreed-upon minimum income stream -- THEN it's "free" until it does go into the black. A step deal, in other words. But a free window for all content, regardless of how popular or profitable -- never happen!

Unknown said...

Gary Watts said...
"It’s the eleven-hour and isn’t that usually when the Teamsters come to the rescue, after the fight is almost over.
Was the Teamster local ??9 trustee crossing the line today ?"

Gary - WTF are you talking about? Leo crossed the line, where and when? Pretty loose talk to post without any facts to back it up if you ask me. BTW, we were told that crossing the line was a choice left up to the individual without retribution by our local 399.

I suggest that if you want to talk to Leo personally you should call him or better yet meet him at the hall. And yes it is too bad you didn't have him in on the process from the beginning, he is a hell of a good negotiator.

BTL 399

Geo Rule said...

I do hope that everyone who's been calling this "a twenty year deal" actually evaluates it that way rather than suddenly switching to "well, it's only a three year deal and two of them suck *ss" analysis.

scribeguy said...

For what it's worth Laeta (whom I don't know personally) expressed to the Strike Captains today that she was "mortified" by Michael Cheapshot's inaccurate article, and reiterated John Aboud's point: that the strikers and the constantly mounting pressure put on them by our activity on the line and inactivity in front of our computer screens has brought about whatever "breakthroughs" the NegCom want to present to us on Saturday.

If you're a member and plan to vote, get your ass to the meeting on Saturday and make up your own mind.

This said, if the AMPTP lawyers don't deliver a signed deal memo in time for ALL of us to get a read, then we may need to distribute bingo cards to 3000 writers, because we sure as hell aren't going to discuss deal points that aren't on paper.

Keep an open mind. You may hear/see something that changes your position...if you have one.

Or you may win the Big Bingo jackpot.


QuoterGal said...

It might be a good time to read (or re-read) both of these articles: "Is Michael Cieply The Worst Reporter Ever?" by Jonathan Tasini/Huffington Post (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jonathan-tasini/is-michael-cieply-the-wor_b_83066.html) and the more recent "The Secret Letter" by Robert Elisberg/Huffington Post (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-j-elisberg/wga-strike-primer-the-se_b_85698.html).

Michael Cieply - like Michael Eisner just yesterday - has his own little power-play agenda in this negotiation, and it has nothing to do with caring a damn about the truth, or the writers.

This recent "article" is an opinion piece, and one of its goals is, I believe, is the usual divide and conquer. If some writers can be made to feel outside the loop, it can create anger at each other and division in the ranks, and that is a classic tactic of negotiation and strike-breaking.

Don't get played, stay strong, and remember who the real problem has been - the AMPTP. You'all have been awesome and can withstand this kind of bullshit tactic.

Jerry Monaco said...

At my weblog Solidarity with the WGA I wrote a post looking at this article in detail: This is the beginning of the post.
The Cynical Mr. Cieply

Below is my detailed analysis of the latest from Michael Cieply, The New York Timesman in Hollywood. Michael Cieply is an anti-union, pro-management former producer for Sony. I have read close to 70 articles by Cieply, so far, and I feel that I know his world-view, inside and out. Michael Cieply's specialty is articulating the point-of-view of Hollywood deal-makers to other businessmen. He is a business writer who shows no interest in unions, labor history, or even the history of the Hollywood union movement. All that matters to the cynical Mr. Cieply is how Hollywood makes a deal and does business. Any group or person who gets in the way of "deal-making" Cieply considers an "outsider" and a wrecker, who does not deserve respect. This is true of all of his articles including the articles he has written on the industry in general. He hates writers and has always shown disdain for writers in his articles going back more than twenty years. Cieply is typical of a type of journalist who has been in the industry too long and once tried to get out only to find him back at the journalists desk. He looks at his old bosses through the yellow eyes of a jaundiced failure. He both envies the success of his old bosses, and hates those who are not successful. He defines success in the exact way that the Hollywood bosses proclaim success and failure. In short, Michael Cieply is a burnt-out case. The New York Times has once again shown its contempt for workers who organize into unions by assigning Michael Cieply to report on this strike.

As with some of Michael Cieply's previous articles you have to read between the lines to get the most important point. In this article, and in the one entitled Recent Moves by Guild Leaders Rattle Writers’ Talks Cieply takes the point of view of Moonves and Chernin successfully. In his articles he "reads the minds" of Moonves and Chernin in such a way that his anonymous sources could only come from people close to Moonves and Chernin. The headline of both of these articles should have been "CEO Negotiators Break Their Own Blackout Ban." But it was obvious from the beginning of the "informal" negotiations that this is what would happen. Unfortunately in closed door negotiations the advantage is always on the side of the status quo.

In the following The New York Times article by Michael Cipley is indented. I highlight the keywords and phrases from that I think the reader should pay attention to. Sometimes I highlight in blue or green, instead of yellow, to emphasize special points. My commentary is in brackets and in bold.

Jerry Monaco

Unknown said...


Gary Watt is a teamster #399, and a really nice guy.
I read his post yesterday and didn't understand the point he was trying to make, I thought it was odd. If a trustee or business agent crossed a picket line, I'm sure it was for a good reason,ie; maybe dealing with a grievance by one of our members. OUR UNION SUPPORTS THE WGA IN THIS STRIKE. Go to our homepage, it's all about our support. I've spent some of my days on the picket lines. So, Gary's 399, not WGA.
My best to all.
a btl #399

Gary Watts said...

“smart said...

Gary Watt is a teamster #399, and a really nice guy.
I read his post yesterday and didn't understand the point he was trying to make, I thought it was odd. If a trustee or business agent crossed a picket line, I'm sure it was for a good reason,ie; maybe dealing with a grievance by one of our members. OUR UNION SUPPORTS THE WGA IN THIS STRIKE. Go to our homepage, it's all about our support. I've spent some of my days on the picket lines. So, Gary's 399, not WGA.
My best to all.
a btl #399”

Get the Name right please, Tony C. Hmm couldn’t get right either…no harm.

Was it for official union business...No

Was the trustee working as a driver....Yes

Would “Jimmy Hoffa sr.” cross a picket line?...Hell..No!!

It's 2008 and this is not 2001, remember back then?

Is crossing a picket line a good example for any Teamster to be setting for the rest of labor movement?...No

And for any “Business Agent” or “Trustee” crossing to conduct union business, your are doing what your suppose to do, taking care of your membership.

Spinning it for anything else is BS and you know it.

Maybe the union should call some of those un-employed 399 members to get out there and help on the line. And don't try to spin that too, because we know differently.

I am on the line almost every day I know the numbers, However, I would like to thank some of the Casting Directors walking at Disney the other day, They are what's right with 399. And for any other 399’er walking the line…..Thank You.

In Solidarity

~ Gary Watts ~