Thursday, June 19, 2008

Huffington Post starts local news push

Recently, I have been having a sense of deja vu. It seems as I pick up the newspaper and read its articles, I have a sense that I have read these stories before. Perhaps that second reading of the same news helps to remind me that I did indeed read it and causes me to better remember what I have read. They say repetition improves memory.

Still, I wonder if the web's impact on my news gathering will shortly force me to abandon the newspaper for my digital paper. I equate this to when I stopped using the newspaper to get the movie schedule and times as the web became faster and more convenient. I feel like the day will shortly come where I will no longer go outside to my driveway to pick up the paper and simply turn on my pc or digital device to download my day's news.

As one of my sources for news content, The Huffington Post has become a daily, or even twice daily read, for the latest headlines, politics, media, business, and even entertainment news. Its desire to add local content is encouraging, but I may be unnecessary. I can easily download other sites to get that information, too. Still, their mission is to be the internet newspaper and local is a part of that coverage. They are indeed challenging the current landscape.

TV networks brace for potential actors strike

I am dreading a repeat of last November's writer strike. A compromise could have been found without striking; the aftermath of the strike was disastrous. AFTRA split with SAG over their negotiation position and found an agreeable solution they could live with. That AFTRA vote is scheduled for July 7 or 8. SAG is trying to convince AFTRA membership to vote against the deal. AFTRA recognized that a strike was not beneficial to its members and found a common ground with the producers.

And while SAG has not yet authorized a strike vote, they seem to be headed into that direction. Yes, TV and the movies survived the writers strike; but it is clear that it hurt the economy and quality TV viewing. Thanks to the writers strike, we now enjoy American Gladiators, Celebrity Circus, prime time game shows and even more reality programming on TV today. Sorry, I find most of it unwatchable. Another strike will simply further push us to the web and our library of old movies to replace new viewing choices. And ultimately our fragile economy will only be hurt further.

What a shame that SAG has not learned anything from the past. The writers union, still suffering from their strike, will feel compelled to join the actors picket line, as the actors did for them. I'm sure they will have lots of stories to share on how wrong this second strike would be for them all.

And while the last strike has caused the networks to start early to refill their line-ups, there will not be much new in the pot should the strike extend for a long period. "About half of all prime-time dramas and sitcoms are now shooting for the fall, allowing networks to stockpile a handful of new episodes in the event of an actors' work stoppage, said one studio insider who spoke on condition of anonymity" But that may mean 2 or 3 episodes of certain series and that will get used up quickly.

The biggest indicator as to whether a strike occurs or not will be the results of the rank and file vote from AFTRA. That will provide SAG with some clue what their own membership wants to do. "Other Hollywood insiders see an actors strike as relatively improbable given the leftover fatigue from the writers' work stoppage. Some question whether SAG could even muster the 75 percent majority vote it needs in a strike authorization." I hope they come to their senses and resume negotiating in good faith.