As a former journalist, I have always taken a special interest in the management of creativity within media organizations: how can media workers truly be creatively autonomous? How can an individual culture creator really do what he or she wants to do? Under what conditions will media deliver the best entertaining and informing experiences for producers as well as consumers? My research, which is largely based on interviews with media professionals, tries to come up with answers to those kinds of questions. […]
The book deals with the working lives of professionals in the four key media industries: advertising, journalism, film/TV production, and digital games. Collaborating with colleagues and students in South Africa, The Netherlands, New Zealand and the United States I interviewed hundreds of media workers over the last couple of years, basically asking them only one question: “so what is it like to do what you do?” The book serves three purposes: first, it allows me to tell our students – who all want to work in “the” media – exactly what that means. Second, understanding media work contributes to critical debates about and within the media professions, for example about the impact of new technologies, the globalization of production networks (for example through outsourcing), and the management of creativity and innovation. Third, I assume that citizens of wired countries all over the world are increasingly behaving like media producers – uploading pictures to Flickr, videos to YouTube, and everything else to MySpace or Facebook. This makes the lessons learned by media professionals also increasingly relevant to everyone else using media. […]
What I’ve found my research is, that under the banner of Integrated Marketing/Brand Communications and the shift towards full-service agencies a lot of work within holding firms has been overhauled, reorganized, and disrupted. To some, this meant increasing centralized control and monitoring of work, less attention to unique interests of the cultivation of specialized talent in favor of unified management strategies.
Other companies, while using the same terms and concepts, used this trend to increase the autonomy of multi-functional teams, and started programs to facilitate knowledge sharing throughout the many agencies within larger firms. The problem is, that media workers are a special breed of people – they tend to be more interested in getting their own creative voice across and receiving peer acknowledgement than securing benefits or a steady paycheck. That makes them more vulnerable to exploitation (of labor), and the consolidation of agencies certainly can be understood in this context. However, as most media work takes place and gets organized through informal and personal networks, individual professionals can have some tactical impact on company strategy beyond the often hollow rhetoric of “integration”, “convergence”, and “synergy”.