The Writers Guild of America, East submitted a letter to the FTC on Friday expressing their concerns over layoffs, budget cuts, and demands to wear many hats when producing news programming.
Today, anyone with a computer and a thought can throw up a blog and ‘tell the news.’ Whether its news they’ve taken from another site, found on Twitter or heard from a friend, it’s clear the public has access to lots of information, and it’s free.
The union feels at some point people will want to pay for quality news, but if that’s their premise, what will define ‘quality?’ If anyone can go on line and get news from the NY Times, CNN, Huffington Post, or your local paper without spending one cent, what information can they offer that will make us dig into our pockets?
The WGAE has valid concerns. But the game has changed, and now they’re asking the same question that’s been asked by many others, “How do you monetize this thing called the internet?” When the internet offers so much for nothing, how do the content providers get paid? And that is the 60 million dollar question. Answer that one, and you can probably retire for the next several lifetimes.
The WGAE filed the letter in anticipation to the union’s participation in roundtable discussions being held this December on the survival of journalism in the digital age. Personally, I’ll be following the discussions closely.