Media Workforce Shrinking

Sometimes you do not want to be right. And I certainly do not want to claim credit. To a large extent many have written about it, signaled it at various talks and debates, blogged about it, and heard about it from many sources throughout the industry: the media workforce is steadily shrinking.

Via Patrick Phillips, editor at IWantMedia, comes this report on AdAge: "Media Work Force Sinks to 15-Year Low. Newspaper Slump and the Shift to Digital, Direct Take Toll on Employment." This follows last year's reports by IWantMedia and by Challenger, Gray & Christmas (as reported by UPI) on media industry job cuts, signaling a rise of 88% of job cuts throughout the US media industry in 2006 over the year before.

Interestingly, AdAge reports that the only area in the media industry that is booming, is that of marketing consultant... Indeed: all the creative talent is disappearing into the void of contingent, uncontracted, farmed out, atypical, and otherwise sans papiers labor (the kind that works "on spec" and does not show up in census data or workforce statistics).

Jobs are being are offshored (advertising holding firms sending creative accounts to China and Brazil, networks moving TV investments to India, newspapers sending their online, business news, and acquisition departments overseas in attempt to "remote control journalism"), outsourced (to citizen-consumers under the heading of "user generated content"), or alltogether deleted.

Part of what i additionally talk about in Media Work is this false notion of "replacement" of old media jobs by new media ones often claimed by web-pundits, but in the real world new media jobs are added at a much slower pace (and with substiantially worse labor conditions) than older ones are deleted.

Perhaps it is time for worldwide organized networks of creative workers. Perhaps the often-discussed "talent wars" in the business sector should get the attention of managers in the creative industries, as the vast majority of CEOs in the knowledge industries seem to be increasingly convinced that talent acquisition, retention and development is the key to future success and indeed survial (link to Accenture's 2006 High Performance Workforce report).

At this rate, we'll all be stuck in an endless reality TV and (its offspring) UGC nightmare. Forever.