WGA Issues: September 2005 Archives
Ed. Note: I’ve been working for a while on revamping the official Writers Guild of America, west website. Here’s an article I wrote for our Member News bulletin. The new website will be up by the end of the month, and I’ll alert you guys once it launches. In the meantime, if you go to the WGA site now, you can see how backwards it currently is.
I’m not wearing pants right now.
That’s one of the benefits of working in the Information Age. As writers, we’re creatures of windowless rooms. The internet allows us to indulge our essential drives to learn and create without coming in contact with other people or violating our primary directive: never move when you can sit perfectly still.
Unfortunately, our Guild’s presence on the web has been a liability. The site was originally designed in 1996 and received little updating since. When it comes to technology, nine years might as well be nine hundred years. Our site was poorly organized, annoying to navigate, used frame-based technology that predated the Monica Lewinsky scandal, and perhaps worst of all…it was ugly.
One of the first actions I took as a new Board member was to create a committee responsible for revamping our web site. Sure, I wanted a website that was competent, but my purpose was a bit deeper than that.
When I ran for the Board, my primary motivation was to improve the relationship between our members and their union. The root of the alienation is understandable. Writers are busy. We have families and friends and careers. It’s easy to allow the Guild to fade into the background, but when a residual check goes missing or a credit arbitration looms or a payment is late, I want to know my Guild will be there for me…without leaving my room.
Or putting on my pants.
In the years to come, the WGAw website will increasingly become the face of our union. It needs to be our clearinghouse for information, our calendar, our early-warning system, our library. Our website should inspire us to learn about the developments that govern our industry, shape our negotiations and impact our earnings. It needs to provide a pathway to our staff, and an opportunity to give feedback, ask questions or simply rant.
By rebuilding the website, we’ve created the foundation for all of that. Our new site is attractive, clean, easy-to-use, and adaptable. We have the ability to create moving-image libraries, poll our membership, and put a face on our staff and the leadership. If there’s a wall between the rank-and-file and the HQ, consider this website a big rock thrown through the barrier.
I’m proud of the work we did. In less than one year, we accomplished our goal. While much of it involved reworking site-maps and navbars and menu trees and databases and streaming video and content management systems, it’s the human experience that is essential. My hope is that our new, world-class website will bring members closer to their Guild and closer to each other.
Take your pants off, people. The new wga.org is here.