After the fuss over my writers' strike column, even I don't agree with myself.
I'm still recovering from the kicking I received as a result of suggesting that writers striking in the US was a slightly futile mission. Like all strong opinions briefly held I'm not sure that I still agree with myself, which is I think is an acceptable position, as there is genuinely no point in starting an argument unless you are prepared to change your mind.
I suppose that what I was trying to say, and maybe failed, was that we in the press have been lucky in being clear that our work has a monetary value of nil. Even when people pay for papers it does not cover the cost of the newsprint. It doesn't mean your work is not valued by people, it just does not have a monetary value - so the chance of becoming deluded that it does is remarkably low. If you start from that position then you begin to work out a new and much changed business model for your industry. Judging by the hullabaloo around Kangaroo, the media player launched by the BBC, ITV and Channel 4, TV still has some way to go.
One thing that I will note, however, is how effectively the striking writers are using the internet, so much so that one wonders whether Jon Stewart's scriptwriters should ever go back to work and instead would be better off just signing an advertising deal with YouTube. It would certainly last much longer than the average 12-week life cycle of your hothouse writers room in LA.
Publishing straight to YouTube is, I am sure, the way that the creative industry will increasingly find its market rather than through the risk-averse and increasingly impoverished broadcast networks. I noticed the other day that my 10-year-old was watching Weird Al Yankovic videos via the medium of the video sharing site. It is, he assures me, all the rage in primary school playgrounds.
Returning though for a minute to the issue of whether writers should be paid more residuals, of course where there are residuals then they should be entitled to part of them. If by exercising their creative muscles on the internet during their enforced rest period they have built up a trackable and accountable online following it will, ironically, only strengthen their bargaining hand when it comes to resolving the dispute. If, however, your strike skits are drawing but a few hundred views then this too might be an exposing moment for the true free market.I doubt this has mollified the handful of outraged script writers, but it might stem the tide of angry mail - albeit extremely elegantly written.
Emily Bell is director of digital content, Guardian News and Media "