Thursday, March 31, 2005

The Power Of The Group

Some people are joiners and others are not. I tend to fall into the joiner category and belong to a number of different organizations. As a writer and editor, I’ve learned a tremendous amount from these organizations—but I do more than simply learn. I take an active role of involvement—by choice.

This week a news item broke which showed once again, the power of the group.  I’m convinced in certain situations, a group can accomplish much more than any single individual.

Here’s the first paragraph of the news release for writers:

“New York, March 29, 2005 – The American Society of Journalists and Authors, the Authors Guild, and the National Writers Union today announced the filing of a motion for court approval of an $18 million settlement in a class action suit they and 21 freelance writers filed on behalf of thousands of freelance writers whose stories appeared in online databases without their consent. They expect preliminary court approval of the settlement within the next month.”

What does it mean for writers? I love what my friend Jim Morrison said in the release:

“ASJA has long preached to freelancers that they demand extra pay for extra uses,” said Jim Morrison, ASJA’s president from 2001 to 2003 and the organization's representative in the settlement negotiations. “Today, we have an $18 million validation of how valuable electronic rights are to publishers. Freelance writers should remember that when negotiating their contracts.”

I know this news wasn’t instant but involved literally years of volunteer work for Jim Morrison and others to bring it to this point for writers.  We should be grateful for the power of the group to take up the cause of fair payment for writers. It’s one of the many reasons that I’m a proud member of the ASJA.

There are many reasons to join groups, but my greatest learning has come from my active involvement. For example, I serve on several ASJA committees and work behind the scenes in a volunteer fashion. A number of years ago, I served on the board of the Evangelical Press Association and formed long-lasting relationships with numerous editors. Some of those editors have gone into book publishing while others remain in the magazine area.

If you belong to several organizations (or even one), I encourage you to consider taking a more active role. What can you volunteer to do that will help the overall good of the group?  Yes, it will take a bit of your time from writing. From my perspective, it has been time well-spent.

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