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November 26, 2008

Who Holds SAG Accountable?

Re-Update: In response to comments from readers, I'd like to clarify that SAG has not denied the story. The guild's response to my specific questions about the meeting can be read below in the original post. It's a day later, and the guild has still not denied the story. Nikki Finke saying the guild denies the story does not make it so. The guild declines to say when this meeting took place. My further reporting indicates it was a few months ago. If and when I am able to confirm further details, I will post them in the original story.
 
Earlier: In customary style, Nikki Finke devotes more ink than I do to supposedly debunking the story I broke about a secret meeting of top stars convened by SAG president Alan Rosenberg. It was not deleted; I was editing it last night to further check facts and inadvertently left it in ‘draft’. I have now reposted, and apologies to those who missed it in their sleep. On further reporting, I learn that the essence of the story is correct. I have amended the time element, however.
 
Here is what makes me curious about this story. SAG acknowledges that it has occasional meetings “on set” and elsewhere with top stars to talk about issues of the day. How often does this occur? In what context? And who is informed about such matters? Apparently not the membership.
 
I wonder if it is considered normal policy for a labor union to invite a cadre of elites to consult on strategy and policy, outside the board and outside the guild’s official business. On the face of it, it sounds as if the guild was lobbying this group to get support for its policy of continuing to reject the studios’ offer, despite pressure from AFTRA, which cut a separate deal.
 
Readers will recall that SAG is not always an organization that makes full disclosure a part of its every day habits. Just weeks ago I broke a story about SAG sitting on $25 million in “unclaimed residuals.” I remind readers that the guild launched a campaign to return this money three weeks after my story went out.
 
Finally, if the story is so unimportant, I wonder why Nikki Finke devotes so much energy to it, and if doing so serves her readers. I suspect it has more to do with embarrassing a fellow journalist. Is she a mouthpiece for SAG, or an independent voice? I believe reporting is about holding institutions to account, including the guilds and the studios in this case. I will always be open to rectifying errors, and have done so.

Comments

Antonio Simeone

Nikki Finke may have a prefered side in the battle between the guilds and the studio's but she has always published both sides of the story,including any statements from the AMPTP as well as the guilds.
And i don't think you can really call putting a thin line through your inaccurate reports,rather than removing them altogether,editing of the story.It just seems like a pathetic attempt to spread the same story without making yourself accountable.That just strikes me as sad.

kimm

You seem to be one of those "internet Wannabe industry insiders" who will post anything that can gather you some attention. MY industry contacts (and no I don't blog on some self promoting website) concur much more closely with Ms Finke's version of "the non story" you posted (aka overheated fiction). A strike affects THOUSANDS of people's livelihood and isn't something to be toyed with by posting wild rumors and outright fictions. The only "story" you "broke" in that the original piece and the "edited version" is showing what an "outsider HACK" you really are. Geez, "Ain't it cool" fanboy geek rumors have more veracity than your scribblings....

McMary

I don't know what to believe but at least you don't edit your comments (unlike Miss Nikke who chooses what to post)... I also find the above comments hilarious.

GZ

Holy moly, does Nikki Finke EVER admit being wrong on something? Ooops she's perfect, i forgot.

Keep up the good work Sharon.

AC

Who said the story was unimportant? In fact, Nikki took your posting very seriously because it WOULD be big news if this meeting actually happened. So now you're trying to chide her for "devoting more ink" to the story than you did yourself? I say good on her for investigating and researching rather than using just one anonymous source who can't be held accountable. It sounds like you're the one who isn't taking your own story seriously. As Nikki posted, you are ignoring that SAG is denying your story, and I find it troubling, if it's true, that you used a response from SAG in your story without making clear what your story was alleging. But I'm glad you take comfort that the "essence of the story is correct." I guess that's what passes for journalism nowadays at the New York Times and in the world of blogging.

Chris

Nikki has the correct version of the story, whatever her biases may or may not be. She has the right version because everyone in Hollywood talks to her or at least reads her blog, daily. If you are hoping to one day get that level of access then you can start by retracting mistakes (we all make them) rather than trying to push a bad position. Good luck.

A Welsh Evan

So, Sharon, when did the meeting happen? First you you strike through "last month" as a correction, and then you carry on with time specifics such as "At the time, a strike vote was nowhere on the horizon."

And who thinks "the story is so unimportant"? To quote Nikki: "Worse, Waxman's blog post could have sowed SAG discord by making it seem as if the guild's leadership violated the spirit of the federal mediation during this meeting that never happened."

Sounds like she wants you to be careful with journalistic matches, or possibly, maybe you shouldn't be allowed to play with them at all.

Antonio Simeone

"When I am able to confirm with certainty when this meeting took place, I will say so."

So even though you have admitted that the information isn't confirmed, you still refuse to remove it until it can be verified...wow, you must be having so much fun reporting now without that pesky burden of jouralistic integrity getting in the way. What marvellous arrogance.
I'd say don't quit your day job, but you seem much better suited for something in the political field...maybe Sarah Palin is looking for a press secretary.

DM

Yeah, I'd have to agree with some of the comments above. If the information is wrong or inaccurate, it should be removed. Putting a line through it does nothing. It can STILL BE READ and therefore questionable or inaccurate information is still being seen. A real journalist makes corrections, not edits that can still be read.

Beth

DM, get with the program. It's a common blogging convention to STRIKE THROUGH errors so that the reader can see what has been corrected. It's called transparency and accountability, and every mainstream blogger does it.

OR you could do what the MSM does and subtly correct articles without acknowledging the correction.

DM

Gee Beth, most NEWS organizations just make the corrections. I wouldn't want to go to time.com and read articles that contain a bunch of strikeouts showing changes. Its sloppy and lazy. And NO its not a common blogging convention. The only bloggers doing it are lazy and I'd hardly consider them professional. The only important are facts. I don't want to read all the errors and misinformation. If the blogger is intelligent enough to post updates explaining why they made they changes they made, the strikeouts are unneccessary.

Beth

LOL the same mainstream news organizations that you vaunt are the ones who keep failing us readers (hello CBS News and that faked Bush memo, for one).

And YES, my dear, it is blogging convention. Full stop. Why? So that people can see if mistakes are made and correct their own understanding, having read the first inaccurate reports. You can keep stating the opposite but it doesn't make it true.

Antonio Simeone

"You can keep stating the opposite but it doesn't make it true."

Maybe that should be Ms. Waxman's Blog's Tagline?

Beth

Meow, Antonio. Why are you reading this blog at all? LOL

Lynda

I won't speak to most of what you wrote but there was one paragraph from your post that struck me:

"Here is what makes me curious about this story. SAG acknowledges that it has occasional meetings “on set” and elsewhere with top stars to talk about issues of the day. How often does this occur? In what context? And who is informed about such matters? Apparently not the membership."

Everyone who works in the industry is aware of this practice, ma'am. DGA and SAG representatives regularly visit primetime television and film sets/locations. The main purpose of their presence is to check in with their membership and ensure that aspects of the SAG and DGA contracts are being upheld and enforced. SAG reps check in with leads, dayplayers, and background players. Every working actor, many crew members, and all producers are aware of SAG's presence on the set. There's no shroud of mystery to it... unless, of course, you do not work in the entertainment industry.

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You can keep stating the opposite but it doesn't make it true."

Maybe that should be Ms. Waxman's Blog's Tagline?

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