Thursday, December 27, 2007

A Note on Writers

In one of yesterday's posts I noted two newspaper articles by the same reporter in two papers that were very similar except for the legislator highlighted. I should have noted that my comments were not intended as mark against the reporter in question. In fact I have a high regard for the reporting at the site of the local paper mentioned.

It was more a note on the state of the media especially in an era of syndicates. Recently for another project altogether I looked at a number of newswire reports on a particular event. It was amazing to see the variations of blurbs from the same reporter at the same newswire. Just changing a few words in a sentence changed the nuance.

Sometimes writers or reporters do not have much control over what goes out under their name. Several years ago one of my siblings had a second job as a stringer for a local paper where he lived. It didn't last long. The employment agreement stated that his work could be combined with someone else's work and the byline either listing both writers or just one. I used to do some freelance writing for a niche publication in this region. I stopped when they changed their copyright agreement to something similar. My work could be combined with one or more other writers' work and the resulting work published in any other magazine or newspaper owned by the same company under whatever byline they wanted. I also used to write book reviews. No money was involved but reviewers got to keep the galley proofs we received and every once in a blue moon the promised finished book actually arrived. However, they also changed their copyright agreement when the magazine was purchased by a larger company. Again, the reviews, and in this case also any biographical information on the reviewer, could be printed in any magazine this company published. The reviews were also showing up online with no attribution. Other people I know who like to write have found the same thing, an op-ed or review written for one newspaper shows up in a number of other papers, with no extra money going to the writer.

The writers strike makes a lot of sense to me.

No comments: