Tag Archives: WGA

Vultures circling as talks continue

I’ve been a bit quiet about contract negotiations at the Gazette since the strike vote, and that’s mainly because there’s nothing to report. Both sides were in talks Thursday and will return to the table Friday. People are optimistic, but the work-to-rule campaign and byline strike continue, and the guild has suggested employees bring personal effects home.

The Montreal Newspaper Guild website has the latest update, which also points out that talks for the 37 employees in the (non-classified) advertising department have broken off.

UPDATE (Oct. 10): No strike is being called for the foreseeable future. Friday’s talks had progress, though jurisdiction remains a roadblock. Conciliation talks are set for Oct. 20 and 21, and the guild says that “additional measures” are necessary to show that the union is “serious” about its demands.

Meanwhile, management is apparently preparing for the worst, with Canwest News Service making inquiries of Concordia University journalism students (and Gazette freelancers) who might want to work freelance for them in the event of a strike. Because they’d be working for Canwest and not The Gazette (even though Canwest owns The Gazette), they would not be breaking Quebec’s tough anti-scab laws, even if what they write is of local interest and would only appear in The Gazette.

Concordia’s journalism department director, Mike Gasher, has sent a letter to students cautioning them against working as freelance scabs, Macleans reports.

UPDATE: CBC has picked up the story (with requisite “CBC has learned” which implies they didn’t just read it from Macleans’ blog), and J-Source has picked it up from CBC. The CBC story includes a denial from Canwest News Service’s editor-in-chief that the inquiry has anything to do with a possible Gazette strike.

Thanks mostly to the CBC, other blogs are also picking up the story.

UPDATE (Oct. 14): La Presse also writes about the story, this time including a new explanation from Canwest: that the freelance copy would be needed in the event of a Gazette strike in order to provide material for Canwest News Service and other newspapers across Canada, to compensate from the loss of Gazette copy (Canwest has no non-Gazette journalists in Montreal). Of course, as a subscriber to Canwest News Service, The Gazette would have access to this copy as well.

Journal in negotiations

As if that weren’t enough, workers at the Journal de Montréal are also at the bargaining table for a new contract, mere months after their sister union at the Journal de Québec accepted a new contract that removes their four-day work week and requires journalists to perform multiple multimedia jobs.

Updates are on the Journal du Journal website. So far nothing too serious is coming out, besides low-level pressure tactics like wearing yellow lanyards.

Still, management at La Presse are no doubt creaming their pants multiple times over at the thought of their two main competitors both being crippled by work disruption simultaneously.

Ozzy Osbourne too

Just figured I’d throw this in there: the Writers Guild of America is telling members not to work for Freemantle Media, which produces a new Ozzy Osbourne “reality” show, because they couldn’t reach a deal that would involve paying writers less in order to write less (because it’s “reality” and therefore “half-scripted”).

Le Devoir’s 6 big media issues for 2008

Le Devoir looks at six big issues the media will have to tackle in 2008:

  1. What do we do with TQS? Its current format isn’t working, what should we change it to?
  2. How do we finance television? Should cable providers be forced to hand over money to over-the-air broadcasters?
  3. How long will the Journal de Québec situation go on? MédiaMatinQuébec has been running for eight months now, and the two sides are just now getting together to talk. What will an eventual agreement say, and how will that affect other media?
  4. How do we handle journalist multitasking? Media are expecting reporters to write, take pictures and edit video reports without paying them anything extra. La Presse’s union has already ordered journalists to stop blogging. The Journal de Montréal is knee-deep in union issues about convergence (which is in part why it doesn’t have a real website). Will the media eventually realize that more manpower is needed to produce for different media, or will the quality of journalism drop as journalists spend more time formatting stories than finding them?
  5. How will online distribution royalties be handled? The WGA will solve this eventually when it reaches a deal with U.S. movie and TV producers. But Canada has problems too. Quebecor is still trying to figure out how to get more programming onto its crappy Canoe.tv site. Will content creators get what they deserve, or will they be screwed over en masse?
  6. Will we have Internet CanCon? Or will the pseudo-CanCon we already have get even worse? How will the CRTC deal with the blurring of the line between the Internet and cable providers, television/radio broadcasters and telecom companies?

Do you have any answers?

If only bus drivers had writers like these

Via Martine, the WGA, the American writers union which is currently holding us hostage by denying us House-isms on strike for the rights to more than mere pennies from DVD sales and all of nothing from online publishing of TV shows and movies, isn’t lying down or holding useless marches with picket signs. They’re creating media to rally support for their cause.

In essence, it’s a tactic we’ve seen before but on a much larger scale. When CBC employees were locked out in 2005, they started producing blogs and podcasts to keep communication going. After it was over, the blogger for CBC Unlocked, Tod Maffin, was given the job of running Inside the CBC, a decidedly uncorporate, uncensored blog about the inner life of the Mother Corp., with its blessing.

Locked-out journalists at the Journal de Québec are still, since April, putting out a competing daily newspaper as part of their pressure tactics. The move has rallied support among other unions (who have helped them financially) politicians and newsmakers (who refuse to deal with Canoe reporters, a fly-by-night “wire services” and other scabs) and readers (who have cancelled subscriptions and are picking up the competing paper).

With Hollywood, the tactic that’s getting the most play is online video (ironic since the dispute is over how little they get paid for online video). Writers for popular shows like The Office, the Daily Show and the Colbert Report have been cracking jokes on YouTube, and the actors are coming out to support them. Some like McDreamy and co. talk calmly about the issues, others like Sarah Silverman make the funny, and then there’s Sandra Oh.

The latest campaign, called “Speechless“, involves short black-and-white clips of actors in a world without scriptwriters. Most of them are of the actor-stands-blank-faced-and-says-nothing variety. Others are pretty funny. There’s a new one every day.

Some of my favourites below:

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