Issue 278,  published October 13, 2020

The WGA Audio Alliance

On Sunday, the Writers Guild of America East announced that it has begun organizing within the scripted podcast space — “scripted podcast” largely meaning fiction podcasts, a nomenclature that borrows from the “scripted series” terminology from the television world — through the launch of a new initiative called the WGA Audio Alliance.

“As large companies funnel more and more money towards scripted podcasts, we believe that the writers who make those podcasts possible should receive fair compensation, pension and health benefits, and credit for their work,” says the WGA Audio Alliance website. “As production companies look to the independent community for the next big hit, we want to be sure that scripted podcast writers at all levels know their worth in advance of any negotiations.”

The WGA Audio Alliance’s organizing strategy appears to largely revolve around a push for greater Guild coverage over scripted podcast deals and projects. Coverage is rooted in the implementation guild-sanctioned contract called the New Media Agreement, which insists on protections like fair and timely payment, creator participation in the returns from any derivative products, and health benefits, among other things. The alliance has also established a database for scripted audio writers.

The formation of this alliance is the latest effort in the WGAE’s push into organizing within the podcast and on-demand audio space. The labor union has previously facilitated unionizing efforts at Gimlet Media, The Ringer, and Parcast. (For more background on the broader labor movement picture, check out this interview we ran with WGAE Executive Director Lowell Peterson back in August.)

A head-turning development, though I’m a little curious as to why the WGA Audio Alliance isn’t more formally structured to accommodate makers of both fiction and non-fiction podcast series. Seems to me that there’s decent overlap in needs when it comes to negotiating with larger companies, and the potential for a wider blanket of solidarity is always nice.

Anyway, you can read up on the alliance on its official website.

I run this thing.