WGA Writers Strike: It’s Happening Again


Brenda Payan Medina

(Design by Brenda Payan Medina | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Ethan Blume, Arts Writer


As many people know, this is not the first time the WGA has gone on strike. They last went on strike in 2007, which drastically changed the landscape of television. Right around when they began their strike, reality TV became more and more prevalent, including Trump’s TV show “The Apprentice,” which had been rumored to be canceled before the strike was called. These rumors have largely been dispelled, but it is a fact that the seasons after the WGA strike had higher ratings than previously. This is more than likely due to the lack of any other programming available.

The Strike

Now, why is the WGA on strike this time? There are many reasons, all of which could be easily fixed if the big Hollywood corporations stopped thinking about anybody other than their CEOs that make almost $250 million dollars a year. Writers are fighting to get paid a living wage for the work that they do. Work which is slowly becoming less and less valued by the higher-ups in the entertainment industry.

Writers rooms have been shrinking, meaning there are fewer writers who are employed for less time. This forces them to crunch if they want to finish their work by the deadline, and there isn’t nearly as much room for collaboration and new ideas. Something that is incredibly important when writing any kind of media. They are also trying to keep AI out of writers rooms, something that has become a real possibility as of late, with the rise of such apps like ChatGPT.

Streaming and Residuals

These are all things that they are aiming to fix with this strike, but one of the most important and easiest to fix are residual payments from streaming services. Live television has largely been wiped out by same-day streaming releases. I mean how many 20-year-olds do you know that have a cable package?

Everyone talks about Netflix, Hulu and HBO, but no one really talks about Comcast or Discovery anymore. Yet, for whatever reason, writers are not getting the same residuals from streaming shows that they do from live television reruns. When an episode of a show reruns on live TV, the crew that worked on it get royalty checks. These checks range from the writers to the producers, to everyone in between, which makes sense. Your show is getting airtime continually, which means you should get reimbursed for it. Yet, writers that wrote shows for streaming would just get paid off with a one-time payment that does not reflect how many people watched it. You could write one of the most watched episodes of TV ever, but if it went straight to streaming, you would only get paid once and never see any money for that work again. Streaming and TV really aren’t that different, so the difference in pay is quite staggering and surprising.

Without writers, none of our favorite shows would exist. Do you think “The Office” or “Breaking Bad” would exist without the incredibly talented team of writers that worked on it? Writers are constantly coming up with groundbreaking storylines that impact and shape the television landscape for years to come. It is unreal that they have to fight for fair compensation when film and TV are such important aspects of American culture. Support the WGA if you can, and in fact, just support any Union in the fight against corporate greed.


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