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Pulitzer-Prize Winning Novelist Richard Russo Moderates Authors Guild’s Series at NYPL “Who Owns the WORD?”

Series begins November 15 on The Future of Authorship in Journalism at Schwarzman Building

The Authors Guild and the New York Public Library present a new three-part public forum, Who Owns the Word?, exploring the current state of authorship and the role technology plays in both helping and hindering the advancement of literary culture.

Moderated by Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist and short story writer Richard Russo, who also serves as Vice President of the Authors Guild Executive Board, each forum in the series will explore how the confluence of the creative and tech sectors is changing the economic landscape for writers in three distinct areas: journalism, book publishing, and motion pictures.

“The digital revolution has drastically altered the ways journalism, books, and motion pictures are distributed and experienced. To date, this change has mostly resulted in an enormous rise in the net worth of technology companies, and a steep decline in income for most creators, authors and journalists included,” says Mary Rasenberger, Executive Director of the Authors Guild. “But we believe that it is possible to turn this trend around and harness technology so that writers and ultimately the public benefit too.”

A recent Authors Guild study shows that writing income for full-time writers has dropped 55 percent since 2009, despite the fact that more than 60 percent of authors possess an MFA, PhD, or other graduate degree. At the same time, ad revenue for the newspaper industry is down two-thirds, from $49 billion in 2006 to $18 billion in 2016; and the number of full-time newspaper and magazine journalists has declined by more than 60% since 1990 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“Human beings are story-telling animals. We tell stories not only to entertain, but to inform, educate, and most of all to connect on both an emotional and intellectual level. In this way, books, journalism, and films bring us together, provide a shared context, and allow us to empathize with people whom we normally might not encounter on a daily basis,” said Russo.

“Our public forums focus on who owns and therefore controls what ‘words’ get produced and disseminated publicly and discusses how the continuing decline in the number of professional writers, authors, and journalists pose significant danger to the quality and importance of American culture and our understanding of humanity.”

Each forum also will address how creators, corporations, and cultural institutions can all play an active role in sustaining a society that relies on the freedom of expression.

Who Owns the Word? Forum Schedule

November 15: Who Owns the Word? The Future of Authorship in Journalism

December 10: Who Owns the Word? The Future of Authorship in Book Publishing

January 23: Who Owns the Word? The Future of Authorship in Television and Film

6:30 pm

Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, Celeste Auditorium
New York Public Library
476 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY

First Come, First Seated
For free events, we generally overbook to ensure a full house. Priority will be given to those who have registered in advance, but registration does not guarantee admission. All registered seats are released shortly before start time, and seats may become available at that time. A standby line will form one hour before the program. Registration link coming soon.

About the Authors Guild
The Authors Guild is the nation’s oldest and largest professional organization for writers. Since its beginnings over a century ago, we have served as the collective voice of American authors. Our nearly 10,000 members include novelists, historians, journalists, and poets—traditionally and independently published—as well as literary agents and representatives of writers’ estates.

The Guild advocates for the rights of writers by supporting free speech, fair contracts, and copyrights, and has initiated lawsuits in defense of authors’ copyright and royalty rights for both e-books and print books. We create a community for professionals who often work in isolation and fight for their ability to earn a living wage by testifying before Congress, in state legislatures, and at government agencies. Read some of our success stories here or visit us at