Los Angeles Times: Dr. Dave Smith Comments on Acceleration of Unions in Digital Media
As L.A.’s podcast industry continues to grow in popularity and new podcasts continue to emerge so does the Hollywood union battle. In a recent Los Angeles Times article Lowell Peterson, executive director of the Writers Guild of America West, stated as “the media landscape is changing, our goal is to keep pace with it. There is very much the sense that unions are more essential than ever.” The L.A. region and nation are becoming part of a larger movement to unionize podcasting firms and bring higher wages, benefits and improved working conditions to digital media ventures. In 2018, the rate of membership among wage and salary workers fell to 10.5%, down from 20.1% in 1983, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Millennials and cost-cutting has resulted in writers and producers to seek union protections. Many digital media startups have struggled to convert online popularity, such as ads and digital subscriptions, into revenue and in turn have had to reduce their workforce. “We have to wait to see if we are experiencing an uptick or just a countervailing trend,’’ said David Smith, professor of economics at the Pepperdine Graziadio Business School. “Maybe in the end digital media owners will have to embrace a workforce that’s interested in wanting to have stability and economic security and reasonable work hours. It’s going to be hard for progressive owners to stand against that in any meaningful way.” Read more.