Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Writers Strike: Not Just the Money

In the ideas-and-images industry, there has always been a gulf between labor and management. Seeing writers on picket lines now only confirms where, in our society, the money and power always goes.

On one of my first magazine jobs, the editor was Wade Nichols, a writer at heart, who created a family-like atmosphere where on Friday afternoons everyone on the payroll gathered in his office to drink and talk their way toward their weekend lives.

When the publisher died, Nichols took that that job too. "Do you really want to do all that business stuff?" I asked. "No," he answered," but I don't want to see some son-of-a-bitch do it and ruin what we have."

When I became editor, they put me on the company's board of directors, and I felt like an atheist in church, watching even the best people take on a quasi-religious fervor for maximizing profit. They seemed to be under the influence of a narcotic that suppresses conscience and brings out low cunning that might make a carnival pitchman blush.

Such zealotry may explain why the current strike, which is costing organizations millions, is now in its tenth day with no end in sight. What the writers are asking won't put a dent in their huge profits but, for the corporate true believers, it isn't the money, it's the principle that's at stake.

They have to keep their faith.

1 comment:

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