Friday, September 21, 2007

Depopulation of the media

In the span of one week, I attended two sessions by Marc Deuze, young professor journalism at Indiana University and Leiden University. He has recently published the book Media Work. The book is based on 600 interviews among creative people working in the media such as journalism (print, radio and television) and advertising. It is a book about instability and destabilisation in the media, mixing perspectives on media production with those on media audiences and their activities.

The promo blurb says: The media are home to an eclectic bunch of people. This book is about who they are, what they do, and what their work means to them. Based on interviews with media professionals in the United States, New Zealand, South Africa, and The Netherlands, and drawing from both scholarly and professional literatures in a wide variety of disciplines, it offers an account of what it is like to work in the media today.
Media professionals face tough choices. Boundaries are drawn and erased: between commerce and creativity, between individualism and teamwork, between security and independence. Digital media supercharge these dilemmas, as industries merge and media converge, as audiences become co-creators of content online.
The media industries are the pioneers of the digital age. This book is a critical primer on how media workers manage to survive, and is essential reading for anyone considering a career in the media, or who wishes to understand how the media are made.

Mark Deuze is not optimistic about the labour perspectives in media today. He signals in fact a depopulation of the media. Most of the media have lost the people formally fondly known as the audience (quote by Tom Rosen). They hardly know what they should do with internet. The only thing that they are concerned about is the reliability of their name. Besides the labour conditions of the media personnel are winding down. Workers under the 30 years do not have regular contracts; so they start doing projects.

Deuze goes back in history and points to the game world, where this pattern started. After that this labour ethos was visible in the advertisement world. Now the journalists take their turn. News is no longer coming from one source and can be picked up from the printed newspaper, radio and television and internet. Internet has made a commodity of news. News is becoming increasingly isomorphic, while news is becoming more and more inter-institutional between TV, radio, print and internet. Media work will yield unfinished products and leave the finishing to people and participants. If a company wants its product to stick, the media companies will have to work with talent.

The promo blurb says that the media industries are the pioneers of the digital age. I guess that you can differ on this observation. The media industries have not been real pioneers of the digital age, but scared protectors of their revenue resources, i.e. the advertisement revenues. And presently the media companies are not really innovative. They either buy start-up companies like News Corp did with MySpace or copy a user generated content trend like YouTube. IMHO, media companies ride the waves, have a repressively tolerant attitude towards user generated content and are very scared about loosing their reputation and independence.

Blog Posting Number: 873

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