The Writers Strike and Transmedia Entertainment

I was going to run a series of short items today. I am experimenting with breaking these down into a series of smaller posts, instead.

I have not had a chance to write extensively here about the Writers’ Strike. By this point, there are some very good discussions of the strike out there by other media researchers which more or less say what I would have said on the topic. For example, check out Jason Mittell’s Post. I did participate in a discussion on the future of online content early this year organized by newteevee.com. Here’s what I said there about the likely impact of the strike:

The writers’ strike is a struggle over transmedia content and as a consumer, I certainly hope that the writers gain significant ground in their current efforts. As long as the media companies see online content purely in terms of promotion, they will not fully integrate it into the storytelling system. As long as creatives see generating ‘extensions’ as extra unpaid work, they will not put their best effort into this content.

The other interesting thing about the writers’ strike as it intersects online video is the fact that the writers have been so much more effective than the producers at using YouTube and other online platforms to get their messages out to the public. Most mainstream media coverage of the strike has focused on how it inconveniences consumers — after all, it is being produced by the same companies the writers are striking against. But the writers have been inventive at generating compelling online video which does get spread by their consumer base and helps to explain the underlying issues of the conflict. If nothing else, this shows how much better they understand the new media ecology than the people they are working for.