Thursday, November 8, 2007

Freedom of Press, Threatened!

Interesting information was brought to my attention today.

You know that the mainstream media outlets have been giving us little tidbits regarding the current strike by the Writers Guild of America. Of course, they mostly warn of the upcoming "dangers" of the impending blow of early re-runs of our favorite
programs. Oh, the horror!

Big surprise. There's more to the story.

In November 7th's LA Times, I was pointed to an interesting article written by someone with a familiar name. You should know Marshall Herskovitz, a TV and movie producer, whose credits include "Blood Diamond" and "Thirtysomething".

In his article he bravely reveals the real reasons behind the strike. He explains that there are six large companies that ultimately run all media channels on television, regardless of how many channels to which you subscribe. These companies include NBC Universal, Disney, Time Warner, Viacom/Paramount, Sony and News Corp. Each of these channels has a brand identity that the company that owns it dictates that it must adhere to. Today, producers are employees, not creators.

Additionally, networks exert an excessive, non-expert level of creative control over things like set colors and designs, wardrobe, and excessive notes on scripts. Herskovitz says that "The problem, of course, is that these executives often have little background or qualification for
making creative decisions. They are guided by market research and -- they want to believe -- a learned intuition about what the public wants. This season's new shows have been a good indicator of how successful that strategy is: Even before the current writer's strike, virtually every new show was struggling."

Herskovitz expresses further frustration regarding the increasing profits for the networks versus the slashing of salaries and profit participation for the writer-producers who create the shows. This is definitely corporate America taking advantage of we, the people.

Where is all of this affecting anything outside of the "Hollywood community", you ask?

Herskovitz states the answer to the above question best. "...this trend is part of a larger problem caused by the FCC in all areas of media. The relaxation of the Fairness Doctrine (which required the networks to present the news in a balanced way), the lapse of any oversight of networks' civic responsibility, the commoditization of network news -- these are
all parts of a troubling move toward the aggregation of control of information in an ever-shrinking number of entities.

"Our founding fathers could not have foreseen that freedom of the press might eventually be
threatened just as much by media consolidation as by government. And if you doubt that's happening, just watch Bill Moyers' recent expose on the networks' passive collusion with government in selling the Iraq war."

Those are powerful words! Again, going back to our Founding Fathers and the U.S. Constitution being pulled apart and neglected or re-worded for the benefit of corporate America instead of the people it was meant to serve.

There seems to be a creative migration to the Internet, which Herskovitz and partner, Ed Zwick, are taking part. Their project called "Quarterlife" premieres Sunday on MySpace and then on their site at the next night.

Others in the industry are curious to see if Quarterlife succeeds, because if it does, "it will prove that there's a way to independently produce, finance and distribute ambitious content on
the Internet."

Be a part of their experience and check out "Quarterlife".

I sure will! It should be an interesting experiment and great for the industry to watch it succeed.

I am all for going away from corporate control of America!

G o H e r s k o v i t z !!!!

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