Saturday, January 05, 2008

Everybody, Put Down Your Pencils

There is a writers’ strike going on, mostly in New York and Hollywood, for the past two months now. As far as Mr. and Mrs. General Public are concerned, it’s “Oh, there’s a writers’ strike? That explains why the late night shows are in reruns.”

Wait until it hits the prime-time shows. “Grey’s Anatomy” will look as if you flunked the course and had to take it over again; “Law and Order SVU” will be “Law and Order Déjà Vu.” As for the soaps, which run without repeats (Run? How about “Crawl”?), when the scripts already written run dry, you will see non-union folks stepping in or, to the Guild’s dismay, union writers dropping off their scripts in abandoned cars.

I write for a strike paper, one formed from the turmoil (think of a bomb going off under a large gasoline tanker truck, a major riot, Krakatoa) of a fiercely anti-union company taking over a newspaper in a fiercely union city. Our paper began just days after we walked and is still publishing daily 29 years later. The unions, one by one, were decertified by the struck paper and the strike officially over years later, but both papers still exist for the purpose of putting the other out of business. The animosity has not lessened.

In our first edition, we optimistically front-paged that this was only temporary and we’d be back to work at the old address in, probably, six months or less. Our demands were few and fair and, as we learned, the public supported us. Wow – did they! It’s been 29 years and three months and, while the public now looks upon this as a two-newspaper city, we still have the support of those who would eat monkey crap than buy the other paper.


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