#MillionMaskMarch: Epic, Global — But Where Were the News Networks?

On November 5, 2013 tens of thousands of protestors marched in 477 locations around the globe. There were masks, chants, goofy signs, sincere view points, arrests, beatings, police opening up with non-lethal projectiles on protestors, flag burnings. There was lots of print/online coverage, but where were CNN, MSNBC and Fox News? And why weren’t they giving this global event any play as of November 6 at 9:54pm?

NBC News Worldwide did online coverage, ABC News posted a photo from Brazil and mentioned in the caption a global march, while CBS News had nothing. Al Jazeera America ran eight photos on their website.  RT.com gave the Million Mask March a big spread on their website (Oh hai, Mr. Putin and your pals in the Kremlin!) plus posted videos on YouTube; the BBC posted three stories.  CNET posted a story.

But considering the airtime the (failed) truckers’ protest got on Fox, and the amount coverage given by cable news programs–which can provide up-to-the minute, breaking news stories via affiliates–to a crack smoking Canadian mayor, Justin Bieber’s alleged brothel visit, and Google’s mystery barges, you’d think that the telegenic sight of a global protest–one set against landmarks like the White House and Buckingham Palace with cute masks and catchy slogans–would have merited 30 seconds of cable network news time. The Million Man March was happening in Europe, in Australia, in Asia, Africa, South America. It was happening here. In the US. Did you see anything on your local news channel, in your local paper?

A November 6 search of CNN, MSNBC and Fox News’ websites showed no stories about a worldwide Million Mask March protest, nor of the ones in Washington DC, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas, or Atlanta (Though in Denver both the local  ABC station and the Denver Post ran a story after the fact, focusing on arrests, and Portland, Oregon’s KATU posted a YouTube video of police beating protestors). The map of Million Mask Marchers (below) is covered in dots indicating marches and participation.

But wait: There is no live footage by the major networks. No wrapped-with-a-bow “look at what happened” video story. Oh wait, there were two CNN ireports, but those are viewer created, and Fox Latino had two stories. En español.

There were protests across America, around the globe, all themed, organized via social media and websites, and they were ignored, overlooked, avoided–pick a verb–by the major broadcast news organizations.

Twitter #MillionMaskMarch has a running thread of press coverage, and the written word and dead tree media—the Guardian, the Independent, even the gutted and limping  Los Angeles Times all ran stories (though the LA Times’ sister TV station KTLA did not cover the Million Mask March in downtown Los Angeles)—came through where  television stations didn’t. The Washington Post covered the protests, as did the Wall Street Journal and  International Business Times, but a November 6, 2013 search of the New York Times for the terms “million mask march,” “protest” “anonymous” and “Guy Fawkes” turned up nothing about the November 5, 2013 Million Mask March, though this item from earlier this year is pretty interesting:

A decision by authorities in Bahrain to outlaw Guy Fawkes masks looks like a pretty desperate and ineffective way of crushing dissent.

And a decision by network and cable news to ignore Anonymous and its global protests is equally as desperate and ineffective.

Photos: Twitter feed #MillionMaskMarch

Screen Actors Guild Strike Vote Delayed

43893770-16182210.thumbnail.jpgThe ecumenical holiday Chrismukkayule came with the slight gift of relief as the Screen Actors Guild strike vote was pushed back from January 2 to January 12 to

address the unfortunate division and restore consensus

as  SAG Executive Director Doug Allen wrote in an email late Monday night.  Both Allen and Guild president Alan Rosenberg are staunch strike supporters, but there is growing dissent within the union, and throughout Hollywood, regarding a strike.

The strike authorization vote will start after after the union’s national board meets to discuss the matter. Last week at a SAG meeting in New York, Rosenberg met with vociferous opposition as members demanded the strike be called off. New York board members have advocated replacing the current negotiating committee with a task force.

Allen wrote that the delay in the strike vote

will provide us with more time to conduct member education and outreach on the referendum before the balloting.

But last year’s Writers Guild strike–and the overall slowdown in production caused by the anticipation of the actors’ strike–is all the education many working SAG members require to see the hardships striking would cause on many levels.

To pass, a strike authorization must be approved by 75% of members who cast votes. The Guild has 120,000 members, 80% earning under $13,790–the baseline for insurance qualification. Is a strike that big a deal to the majority? However, the employment of the minority provides direct and indirect income for tens of thousands–not only other actors, crew and production staff but via general spending: restaurants, shops, service professionals, the travel and recreation industry, schools and charities are all affected when Hollywood grinds to a halt.

In the past weeks, over 130 prominent actors–including George Clooney, Sally Field, Helen Hunt, Charlize Theron, Tom Hanks, Robert Redford and Morgan Freeman–spoke out against the strike, citing the overall economy and adding:

Three years from now all the union contracts will be up again at roughly the same time. At that point if we plan and work together with our sister unions we will have incredible leverage.

Mel Gibson, Martin Sheen, Valerie Harper, Connie Stevens, Ed Asner and several dozen other actors are pro-strike, arguing that the studios’ contract offer is unacceptable and threatens the future of actors in the digital era. 

While Allen wrote that the strike vote would begin immediately after the meeting, moderates are expected to press for a delay in the strike vote to see whether negotiations with the studios can resume.  The board also could move to have Allen removed as negotiator.

There is room on both sides of the table for negotiating, for both the producers and the actors to walk away with wins. And if coalitions can be built during the next three years, the film unions will be in a stronger position.