SAG-AFTRA in association with IBEW and IATSE in Portland, Oregon are holding a public meeting next week to protest what they call the 'Uberization' of the news.
By 'Uberization', the unions (that is what all those alphabet stews up there are - SAG is Screen Actor's Guild and IBEW is the Interntional Brotherhood of Electrical Workers) are protesting what we might call 'Citizen Journalism'.
It's also what we might call the democratization of news and journalism.
It's also what we might call a Free Press.
The unions are decrying 'amateur journalism'.
Writes on poster on Facebook, "If management has its way, "news" will be shot by amateurs, becoming the standard for reportage in the Pacific Northwest. This places non-professionals in danger; exploits them for virtually no pay and no protections; distorts what passes for news and puts legitimate crews and journalists out of work."
This raises the very interesting question of what exactly is a 'legitimate journalist'.
In the United States, (unlike many other countries), we don't license journalists.
The reason we don't do this is the First Amendment.
Congress shall make no law abridging freedom of the press.
That means that anyone is free to be a 'journalist' any time they want, anywhere they want, and with whatever tools they want, whether it's a pencil or an iPhone, and in text or video or whatever.
This is very upsetting to traditional 'journalists'. It used to be that the gear to shoot video and broadcast it to the world was so expensive and compicated that only major corporations with major bucks could afford to do it. And the people who worked for those major corporations felt they had pretty safe jobs - after all, who was going to go out and buy not only all the cameras and gear, but also a broadcast tower and a frequency???
But suddenly, the power to be a 'journalist' is in everyone's hands.
Is this a bad thing?
I don't think so.
We like a free press around here.
The poster in FB writes: "What this means to the American public is a further degradation of the information we rely on daily."
Why in the world would anyone think that depending upon a few super corporations like Disney or Comcast for all of your news and information is a good thing, and why would anyone believe that having a truly free press (which is what we are talking about) is a bad thing.
What the unions are really afraid of is that they are going to lose their jobs.
Well... they are.
That is the destructive side of the creative/destructive nature of technology.
When a broadcast quality camera is the size of an iPhone, when you can live stream to 3 billion people from anywhere in the world for no cost... well, a lot of people who used to have jobs are going to find that the world has changed.
From an information point of view, it is all to the good.
From a 'jobs' point of view, I would strongly suggest that those folks who used to make a living carrying around cameras the size of Volkswagens or reading copy that someone else wrote for them and getting paid for it find new sources of income.
But here's an idea.
The demand for content... real content... not bit pieces of assembly in making video content - but the finished work... the demand for that has never been greater, and we are just getting started.
There are more than 40,000 cable channels in the world alone, going 24 hours a day, not to mention about a million online sites that eat video like candy.
Learn to make content and you will never want.
But tie your job to a 1950s model of how content and news are made... and you are dead.