Why, you ask? First of all, because it's the right thing to do. Despite what you may have heard or read, this isn't a money grab, it isn't quibbling over a bonus, or anything like that. Yes, I believe the entertainment industry is generally bloated beyond all reason, but what the writers are asking for is that they be compensated fairly when their creative materials are rebroadcast--no matter what the media form of that broadcast is--because they live off of those residual checks. Here's a short video that explains it better than I ever could--and it's entertaining to boot!
The second reason why this is so important is because it sets the precedent for other industry guilds whose contracts will be up for negotiation soon. (The Screen Actors Guild and the Directors Guild will all be facing similar issues in the near future.) You might be wondering, "Don't they all make enough money already?" Well, sure maybe some do, but all of these guilds include middle-class nothings who depend on residuals to pay the bills. And besides, the issue isn't about money. It's the principle that if you work to create something you have a stake in it, and should get compensated fairly. (Yes, I know I keep saying that over and over again, but it's the best way to describe what the writers want: fair compensation.)
My final reason for supporting the writers is out of solidarity. Even though I don't plan on writing for the big screen or for television, I do plan on being a writer in some form or another. And who knows? Maybe one day I will end up writing a hit movie ;) The point is, the thought that a writer could create something and then not be compensated fairly for it, while corporate yahoos make billions, is particularly repugnant to me. I would hate to see anything like that ever happen to any of my writing.
So here's what you can do.
First, sign this online petition: www.petitiononline.com
Second, write to studio execs and tell them that you appreciate and support scripted television. With the writers going on strike, most networks are going to increase the number of reality shows they produce and broadcast. While there are plenty of awful scripted shows out there, reality television is particularly thoughtless and ... well, skanky. Tell the network execs that you're not a mindless viewer, and you support the writers. Tell them to stop all their corporate spin and stop trying to give writers the shaft. Here are a few addresses to get you started:
30 Rockefeller Plaza
New York, NY 10112
100 Universal City Plaza
Universal Studios, CA 91608
3000 W. Alameda Ave.
Burbank, CA 91523