DNAinfo and Gothamist Writers Hold Rally with WGA East, NYC Council Progressive Caucus and Labor Leaders to Condemn Joe Ricketts Over Local News Shutdown

More than 300 people joined writers from DNAinfo and Gothamist, along with elected officials, the Writers Guild of America, East, SAG-AFTRA, 32BJ SEIU, the NYC Central Labor Council and other unions, at a rally at New York’s City Hall Park to fight for the unionized editorial employees at DNAinfo and Gothamist.

Last Thursday, the publications’ owner – right-wing billionaire Joe Ricketts – announced that he had shut down the popular local news sites and bragged that the employees were to blame for his decision because they exercised their right to unionize.

At the rally, the message sent from writers from DNAinfo and Gothamist was loud and clear: “Organize your shop. Don’t let the billionaires scare you.” Speaker after speaker eviscerated Ricketts for his union-busting actions and using his power to silence the important work local reporters do to hold people in power accountable.

The event was emceed by Writers Guild of America, East’s Executive Director Lowell Peterson, who fired up the rally by declaring “We come not to mourn, but to organize.” Speakers at the rally included DNAinfo writer Ben Fractenberg, Gothamist reporter Emma Whitford, Gizmodo Media Group’s Brendan O’Conner, SAG-AFTRA President Gabrielle Carteris, 32BJ President Hector Figueroa, NYC Central Labor Council President Vincent Alvarez, Public Advocate Letitia James, Comptroller Scott Stringer, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, State Senator Michael Gianaris and Assemblywoman  Linda Rosenthal, along with City Councilmembers Donovan Richards, Antonio Reynoso, Ben Kallos, Carlina Rivera, Jumaane Williams and Helen Rosenthal.

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Friday the 13th: Rewriting the Nuclear Horror Story

NOTE: The panel discussion begins at the 30 minute mark.

Hollywood, Health & Society is hosting a sobering panel discussion on nuclear threats and hopeful innovative solutions with screenwriter Mark Bomback (WAR FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES) and experts including Joe Cirincione, president of Ploughshares Fund and MSNBC commentator; Jeffrey Lewis, director of the East Asia Nonproliferation Program at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey and regular contributor to Foreign Policy; Theresa Hitchens, senior research scholar at the Center for International and Security Studies at Maryland and former director of the UN’s Institute for Disarmament Research; Alex Wellerstein, creator of NUKEMAP and “Restricted Data” blogger.
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Press Conference: WGA East, DGA, TV Artists & NY State Senators Urge Signage & Funding of TV Diversity Credit

State Senator Marisol Alcántara (D-Manhattan), together with Independent Democratic Conference Leader Jeff Klein (D-Bronx), members of the IDC and Assemblyman Marcos Crespo (D-Bronx), joined by Beau Willimon, Robin Thede, the Writers Guild of America, East, and the Directors Guild of America, urged the signage and funding of legislation to create the Television Writers’ and Directors’ Fees and Salaries Credit.

If enacted, the recently passed legislation would encourage the hiring of women and minority writers and directors in New York through up to $5 million in tax credits beginning January 1, 2018.

“I initially became interested in this bill because as an Afro-Latina immigrant, I knew what it felt like to grow up feeling invisible in American culture. It was so rare to see a character of color on television, and when you did see one, it felt like they were tokenized, stereotyped, or killed off quickly. And while the industry has made some strides on representation in front of the camera, diversity behind the camera is still sorely lacking. I think the overall quality of television, the different kinds of stories that can be told, the overall landscape of the art form will benefit greatly from having opportunities for diverse people to tell their stories. It was a tough battle, but I stuck with the bill because of the future generations of talented women and people of color who would otherwise remain undiscovered, and the inspiration their stories could bring to countless young people and immigrants like myself,” said Senator Marisol Alcantara.

In a report published by the Independent Democratic Conference, “Telling All of New York’s Stories: Expanding Diversity Behind the TV Cameras,” both minorities and women were grossly underrepresented amongst television producers and directors.

The report examined the lack of diversity and the effect is has on the way that stories are told on shows.

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AGENTS and MANAGERS: A WGAE Panel Discussion

Writers Guild of America, East teamed up with Final Draft to help fulfill its mission to educate screenwriters on writing and selling their work. Agents Erin Junkin (WME), Geoff Morley (UTA) and Melissa Orton (ICM), along with manager Jack Greenbaum (The Arlook Group) and Brian Stern (AGI) share insights on working with successful TV and screenwriters in today’s marketplace and how new writers can gain representation. The panel was moderated by Shelly Mollett (Final Draft).

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Writing A Racially Charged America

The Writers Guild of America, East hosted a panel on October 18, 2016 that was moderated by Jamal Joseph and featured Robin Thede (THE NIGHTLY SHOW WITH LARRY WILMORE), David Simon (SHOW ME A HERO; THE WIRE), Jo Miller (FULL FRONTAL WITH SAMANTHA BEE), Jane Tillman Irving (WCBS-AM NewsRadio 880) and Jelani Cobb (POLICING THE POLICE) on writing about a racially charged America at time when the public is demanding that officials address longstanding problems with our criminal justice system, police violence, drug laws and poverty, among other issues.

Tragic events between police and civilians in cities across the country have inspired us to question what our responsibilities are, both in reporting these events and dealing with them in a dramatic context. What are the special challenges of providing truth and fairness when the subject matter is so racially charged? Are we doing a good job? How could we do better?

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The 69th annual Writers Guild Awards (Full Ceremony)

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web-ish: How the Internet Opened TV #InternetWeekNY

In just ten years, digital content has proven to be the best thing since cable for viewers. It has meant the arrival of “Netflix and chill” culture, with more options from the new studios including Amazon and Hulu to the home of the indie content makers, Vimeo and YouTube. And for creators, it is about the pursuit of making the case for stories that weren’t being told. Join the Writer’s Guild of America, East for a conversation on how writers have driven the digital content revolution.

Panel:

  • Lowell Peterson, Executive Director, Writers Guild of America, East
  • Kathleen Bedoya, Co-creator and Co-Executive Producer, Hulu’s EAST LOS HIGH
  • Mesh Flinders, Co-creator and Writer, LONELYGIRL15
  • Susan Miller, Co-creator and Executive Producer, Hulu’s ANYONE BUT ME
  • Daryn Strauss, Creator and Writer, WEIGHT
  • Thom Woodley, Co-creator and Writer, THE BURG
  • Moderator: Gabriel Arana, Senior Editor, Mic.com

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Die Well or Die Trying

The Writers Guild of America, East in collaboration with
UCLA Global Media Center For Social Impact and The Conversation Project

Presents A Panel Discussion with

Lachlan Forrow, MD (Director of Ethics and Palliative Care Programs, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center; Associate Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School)

Ellen Goodman (Pulitzer Prize-winning Columnist; Founder & Directer of The Conversation Project)

Dan Truly (Writer/Executive Producer, BLUE BLOODS).

Moderated by Sandra de Castro Buffington (Founding Director, UCLA Global Media Center For Social Impact).

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The 68th annual Writers Guild Awards (Full Ceremony)