Some reaction to the boycott by independent writers against Transcontinental is dribbling in. Slowly, cautiously, too often anonymously … geez writers are a timid breed…


Some reaction to the boycott by independent writers against Transcontinental is dribbling in. Slowly, cautiously, too often anonymously … geez writers are a timid breed.

A news story in the Montreal Gazette
quoted Transcontinental vice-president, Pierre Marcoux, saying that
writers misunderstand the contract. Writers retain copyright, he said,
and will be paid when work is reused in paper form at other
publications — but they will not be paid if the work is republished on
different media of the same brand. Marcoux also told the Gazette’s Roberto Rocha that the majority of freelancers for Transcontinental in Quebec and Ontario have already signed the contract.

MastheadOnline reported comments from both sides. A single blog post on MastheadOnline,
by magazine editor Corinna vanGerwen, noted that staff editors at
Transcontinental are squeezed in the middle of the dispute — and asked
how they will cope. “It’s a horrible position to be in,” wrote
vanGerwen. “Editors are the writers’ connection to a magazine, and
often the writers’ biggest advocates, and unfortunately they are the
ones who will hurt most from this action.”

On Thursday at mid-day the Gazette report
was the only mainstream-media story to come up on a Google news search
for the words Transcontinental and boycott; there were no hits at all
on a Yahoo.ca search.

A search of blogs and other things turned up only a little more
information, and what little of it was new reverberated in the social
media echo chamber.

D.B. Scott of the Canadian Magazines blog talked to Marcoux,
who said in part, “We received this communication [the press release] the same as everybody else and we were suprised that 12 groups had
joined with the Canadian Writers Group and PWAC, especially since we’ve
never talked to them.” Someone named “anonymous” was the most vehement
among nearly a dozen commentators. Scott also put up a poll;
only one “anonymous” person commented on his original post and as of
Thursday 57 per cent of respondents (whose numbers were not provided
and none of which commented) said the boycott was either “not likely”
to work or “doesn’t stand a chance.”

Independent writer Patricia Pearson blogged,
“Dear readers and friends, Please do me a kindness if you live in
Canada, and refrain from buying the following magazines …” Independent writer Kim Pittaway tweeted,
“Re Transcon boycott: Wish it weren’t necessary, but can’t see any
other option. Been personally boycotting since new contract came in.”
“Transcontinental blackballed,” headlined a post on the Ryerson Review of Journalism blog. Caitlin Kelly called the Transcontinental contract “the Slave Agreement” and blogged that the boycott “is long overdue.” An open Facebook group called Transcontinental had no boycott-related posts.

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