Wednesday, November 28, 2007

tuesday in the park with John

I’ll admit, practically every photo of this event—posted all over the place—is better than what I’ve got, but I’m going to give you my impressions, so, just to keep it real, you’ll have to suffer with my images, too.

Several hundred members of the WGA East, their union brethren, supporters, and fans gathered Tuesday afternoon in Washington Square Park. Yes, there were guild member/writers, yes, there were union leaders (UFT, SEIU, SAG, AFTRA), and, yes, their were, uh, you know, stars (Tim Robbins, Danny Glover. Joey Pants), but I want to talk first about the politicians.

I say politicians because, though you wouldn’t know it from the coverage, former Senator and presidential candidate John Edwards was not the only one from that class to show up in support of the writers. There were US Reps. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) and Anthony Weiner (D-NY), and Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, to name a few. Senator/presidential hopefuls Barack Obama (D-IL) and Hillary Clinton (D-NY) also sent statements to be read at the rally.

I make this point not because I’m afraid the coverage was biased towards Edwards (hardly), but because I’d like to point out that it is just maybe possible that all of these folks support the WGA in their fight for a fair slice of future revenue from new media venues.

In fact, much has been made on some blogs about how Sen. Edwards had the audacity to campaign. . . wait, I’ve got it right here. . . Edwards's words went something like this:

This is all about fairness, it's about opportunity, it's about making sure those who create the work that generates revenue actually gets to share in that revenue. We have to show that we're gonna have economic fairness and economic justice in America again, and I promise you this: When I'm President of the United States, there will be economic fairness in the United States of America again!

He also said this:

This cause is about making sure that big media conglomerates don’t step on your rights.

Oh.My.God. Just over a month from the Iowa caucus, John Edwards makes an appearance in New York, and dares to mention that he wants to be president—and even kind of says why.

Shameless, I know.

Honestly, to my mind, he kind of wasn’t shameless enough. While it is clear that being at the rally (Edwards also appeared on the west coast picket lines ten days ago), standing with the union, makes the biggest statement, the Senator could have taken 30 seconds to connect his support for labor to some of the anti-poverty and pro-economic revitalization planks in his platform. You know, sell a little. Communicate the benefits (as we say in marketing) of an Edwards presidency. Not that the recent college grad who now does what passes for strike coverage in the New York Times would have necessarily noticed, but I think the writers would have. And, as the mingling crowd that lingered in the park for more than a half-hour after the rally ended made clear, these people like to network!

(Senator Edwards did apparently do some of that communicating to reporters after the rally.)

Also almost completely absent from the coverage were the issues around which this strike revolves, or just how good the various union leaders that spoke were at articulating these issues. They’re great in a room (as we say in the biz), even if that room is outdoors. These people really know their audience, and inspired it—it was impressive.

. . .

(All of my pictures of Edwards make him look like he’s singing. . . )

(. . . or like Gilbert Gottfried.)
And, I’d be, like, a bad journalist if I didn’t also publish the photo that confirms the prejudices of the establishment media.

(h/t gem spa for the links to some of the other coverage)

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