I recently engaged in some good-natured ribbing of the lefty blog JVoices over its announcement that it would cease publishing for the duration of the writers’ strike as an act of solidarity. I may have thought the JVoices gesture was a little bit silly, but, I must confess, I never expected that the big Hollywood studios and TV networks would manage to break the will of the obscure yet determined blog.
When we first joined the TV blogs in not posting in solidarity with the Writers Guild strike, for not just a day, but until the strike ended, we didn’t know, nor anticipate, that the strike would continue for as long as it has. As time has continued, we’ve found that silence in solidarity has been a strength–generating conversation in multiple ways–and, at a certain point, also requires reevaluation.
Before you get out your giant inflatable rats, you should know that JVoices isn’t giving up the fight. It’s just shifting strategies, exchanging its “strength–generating conversation” of “silence in solidarity” for “an innovative and fresh idea to show our support for the writers on strike.”
JVoices explained its new tactic with a press release titled, “‘JVoices’ Jewish Blog to Pay Writers 8 Cents”:
The Jewish blog, JVoices (http://prweb.com/releases/2008/1/prweb596032.htm) will begin compensating contributors 8 cents per post for every day the post remains on the front page, over a six-month period beginning January 1, 2008. The compensation amount is intended to generate increased awareness about, and support for, the current labor strike by the Writers Guild of America.
The choice of 8 cents is a reference to the struggle of the Writers Guild of America, on strike since early November. One of the demands of the Writers Guild is to double the writers’ residual payment for DVDs. An example of this, as presented in a short video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oJ55Ir2jCxk), would be increasing the residual from 4 cents to 8 cents on a $19.99 DVD.
The question, though, is who will blog for such a pittance? The answer, I fear, is that someone will now open a sweatshop in some Third World country where workers will be forced to put in 16-hour days churning out blog posts full of grand and ineffectual gestures of solidarity for submission to JVoices. I just hope nobody gets too upset if JVoices decides to switch course and call off its payment program early.
UPDATE: Well, one man’s silly statement is another man’s meaningful gesture. A WGA member comments on JVoices that he appreciates the 8 cents gesture, writing “it means so much to us Writers Guild members that community members have been supportive of our fight for a fair contract. And it is particularly meaningful when our fellow writers support us. Your ‘8 cents’ plan is the kind of thing that helps keep us going on the picket lines.”
Also, I should clarify, I was just being cheeky when I wrote “who will blog for such a pittance?” The answer, of course — if one were to take my query at face value — would be almost everyone who blogs, as a commenter on this post helpfully notes.