Saturday, August 29, 2009

Writers Guild Office Boy 1971 (xxiii)

In my spare time during the early months of 1971, I also continued to do more research about the Writers Guild’s hidden history and the early 1970s level of institutional racism and institutional sexism at CBS, NBC and ABC, in the same way I had done research in my spare time about Columbia University, both prior to the 1968 Columbia Student Revolt and until I left the Columbia SDS Steering Committee in late September 1968. Predictably, I discovered from an unpublicized Federal Communications Commission [FCC] report that in the early 1970s less than 3 percent of all CBS, NBC and ABC writers, producers and directors were African-American and less than 20 percent of CBS, NBC and ABC writers, producers and directors were women.

Besides sharing some of the statistical data which documented the level of institutional racism and institutional sexism at CBS, NBC and ABC in the early 1970s with the Newsreel alternative media group of then-revolutionary left anti-war filmmakers, I also passed on some photocopies of this statistical data to a frustrated African-American independent television program production company executive who lived in a high-rise apartment on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. This frustrated African-American independent media executive, who seemed to be in his 40s or early 50s in 1971, had complained in an early 1971 New York Times article about the level of institutional racism at CBS, NBC and ABC that still existed in the early 1970s.

During this same period, Village Voice columnist Nat Hentoff (who would later become somewhat of an anti-abortion rights neo-conservative) was apparently attempting to form some kind of anti-war group with people who worked in the mainstream media, to try to organize collectively against the mass media censorship of the early 1970s. And one day I even received a telephone call at the Writers Guild office from some woman journalist who worked for one of the mass media conglomerates, who suggested that Hentoff might be interested in looking into some of the mass media statistical data I had been gathering. But nothing much in the way of early 1970s mass media reform seemed to develop from Hentoff’s early 1970s initiative.

Sol Yurick, who had been active in the late 1960s in attempting to build a Movement for a Democratic Society [MDS] radical democratic left anti-war group within the New York City publishing industry among anti-war book and magazine publishing firm workers, also was involved in some attempt to democratically reform the U.S. mass media industry in the early 1970s. So after work at the Writers’ Guild one day, I met the full-bearded Yurick, who then seemed to be in his 40s, in a restaurant for about an hour. After we discussed what was most morally obnoxious about the mass media television networks’ set-up and programming in early 1971, I then gave him both a photocopy of my statistical data on institutional racism and institutional sexism in the mass media and a copy of a homemade basement tape I had made of my latest protest folk songs.

No comments: