Managing Media Work Wins Award

Very pleased to report that my edited volume, "Managing Media Work" (published in 2010 by Sage), is the recipient of the 2011 Robert Picard Book Award of the Media Management and Economics Division of the Assocation for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC).

The award was presented at the 2011 AEJMC convention in St. Louis (USA), where contributing author Bozena Mierzejewska accepted the plaque in the name of all authors involved.

Obviously I'm thrilled and honored, and would like to thank the exceptional colleagues who contributed original work to the volume (listed in the order of appearance in the book):

Brian Steward, Bozena Mierzejewska, Chris Bilton, Lucy Küng, Terry Flew, Philip Napoli, Toby Miller, Jane Singer, Leopoldina Fortunati, Pablo J. Boczkowski, Tim Marjoribanks, Keith Randle, Alisa Perren, Charles Davis, Susan Christopherson, Liz McFall, Sean Nixon, Hackley Chris, Amy Rungpaka Tiwsakul, Marina Vujnovic, Dean Kruckeberg, Aphra Kerr, Eric Harvey, Rosalind Gill, Annet Aris, Geert Lovink, and Ned Rossiter.

Please note: an extensive review of the book (unrelated to the juried award) will appear in a forthcoming issue of the International Journal of Media Mangement.

Fall 2010 Talks

As I am writing (currently mid-way through chapter 5 of Media Life), there is not much going on in terms of traveling this Fall.

LAST UPDATED: Tuesday, October 19 (2010).

I will be able to pop in for a couple of talks related to either the Media Life project or the recently published Managing Media Work book. I'll update this list as soon as more information becomes available.

Monday, 20 September
- Two guest lectures and a brownbag lunch presentation at the School of Communication of Loyola University in Chicago, US.

Monday 11 October
- Keynote at the school's opening event at the Escola de Comunicação, Artes e Tecnologias da Informação in Lisbon, Portugal, starting at 7pm.

Wednesday 13 October
- public lecture on Media Life for the Studium Generale program at the Technische Universiteit Eindhoven, The Netherlands.

Thursday 14 October
- presentation on internet & citizenship at the Burger Bewust open conference at De Doelen in Rotterdam, The Netherlands (from 11.30am-12.30pm).

Monday 18 October
- presentation on Managing Media Work (with Michael Opgenhaffen and Leen d'Haenens) at Het Permanent Opleidingsplatform Journalistiek (K.U. Leuven, Lessius, H.U.B.) in Leuven, Belgium (from 7p.m. onwards).

Tuesday 19 October
- lecture on Managing Media Work for Journalistiek en Nieuwe Media at Leiden University, Leiden, The Netherlands (from 5-7 p.m. in room B 031 in the Kamerlingh Onnes Gebouw). Remark: Presentation together with Jaap Stronks.

Friday November 12
- (with Mike Lang and Parker Weidner) presenting on extreme metal and media life in my Department's public T600 speaker series in Bloomington, Indiana, US.

If you are around, drop by and say hi!

Managing Media Work is out!

My new, edited, book, titled Managing Media Work (published worldwide by Sage), is out - the first copy arrived in the mail today (see picture)... Amazing chapters by 27 terrific scholars in the fields of management, business, journalism, media and cultural studies.

I hope you will give it a chance - please let me know if you plan to assign it to courses and/or have graduate students work with it, and if you are a student and (are forced to) read the book, it would be great to hear from you.

Managing Media Work

The new year is off to a great start: I am extremely happy to report that the manuscript of Managing Media Work was sent to the publisher, Sage, today.

[UPDATE: 28 Feburary 2010] According to the Sage website, the book is scheduled for publication in July 2010 (Paperback ISBN: 9781412971249, list price: US $39.95; see also on Amazon).

To me, Managing Media Work is a logical extension and follow-up to Media Work (Polity Press, 2007). In a way, the preface to this edited volume contains the method section that I ommitted from Media Work...

The Managing Media Work volume comprises original work by 27 international scholars in the fields of media management, media production, and media policy studies.

Given the increasingly global, networked, and unpredictable nature of the media industry, and the growing complexities of media work, the challenge to the future of the creative industries seems to be a uniquely managerial one.

The authors in Managing Media Work address in detail how media management can and should prepare itself for the future. Management is seen here not just in traditional terms - as in designing business models, contemplating finance and accounting mechanisms, structuring strategic partnerships - but more so in strictly human terms: the management of talent (both yours and that of others), and the management of your individual career in the media and creative industries.

Contributing authors are (listed chronologically): Brian Steward, Bozena Mierzejewska, Chris Bilton, Lucy Küng, Terry Flew, Philip Napoli, Toby Miller, Jane Singer, Leopoldina Fortunati, Pablo Boczkowski, Tim Marjoribanks, Keith Randle, Alisa Perren, Charles Davis, Susan Christopherson, Liz McFall, Sean Nixon, Chris Hackley, Amy Tiwsakul, Marina Vujnovic, Dean Kruckeberg, Aphra Kerr, Eric Harvey, Rosalind Gill, Annet Aris, Geert Lovink, and Ned Rossiter.

By way of introducing the volume, and to give a pre-publication preview of the awesome work that all these people have done, the book's preface, table of contents, and introductory chapter (that I co-authored with Brian Steward) can be downloaded from IU ScholarWorks.

Please feel free to contact me for more information, and for syllabi and course materials related to the book (in case you are considering adopting the book for a class).

Looking for MA, MS, and PhD candidates

It is getting close to the deadline for applying to our graduate program here at Indiana University. If you are a non-US student, the deadline is December 1 (for US students its January 15).

Of course, our Department is always looking for excellent new people to work with on projects varying from the design and production of virtual worlds, working with faculty and students in a state of the art psychophysiology research lab, or for example studying the content and reception of audio, visual, and written information in the context of political communication (such as elections). And that is just the tip of the iceberg...

Beyond all of that, I am always looking for motivated and fun people to work with on my own projects, particularly regarding the ongoing investigation of our lives lived in, rather than with media, as well as projects involving the challenges of managing media companies and careers.

If you are concerned about cost, please note the following quote regarding funding from our graduate program website:
In the Department of Telecommunications, successful applicants to the PhD program may expect guaranteed funding support as a Student Academic Appointee for three years. This will cover the costs of tuition as well as pay a stipend for living costs. Typical positions include Associate Instructor or Research Assistant.

Applicants to MS and MA programs may receive up to two years of guaranteed funding support as a Student Academic Appointee. The decision is based on merit and available department resources.

Consider this is a call-out for students interested in pursuing a MS, MA or PhD in the media arts and sciences! Please forward this to anyone you think may be interested in studying and living in beautiful southern Indiana...

The Media Organizations Group Blog

In the context of courses I teach at Indiana University on what work in the media and creative industries is all about, graduate students and I have started a group blog, titled Media Organizations @ IU, where we will post news items, commentary, analyses, and debates on all things related to working in the media. We hope you will check us out there, bookmark us, leave comments, and include us in your RSS feeds!

New Books Forthcoming

Just a quick note: the writing of Media Life has started... with the signing of a publishing contract with the always amazing Polity Press, with a delivery date (of the manuscript) for December 2010. I'm extremely excited about this project, and will post regular updates and working drafts to this blog.

This Summer (of 2009) I'm finishing putting together and editing a book, titled "Managing Media Work", that is contracted through Sage. It features 24 original essays by leading international scholars in the field of (critical) management studies on the changes and challenges of contemporary media management - as in the management of firms, as well as the management of (individual) careers across media, cultural, and creative industries. Reading the various chapters now - it promises to be a wonderful collection. More on this - including the names of the authors involved - soon...

The People Formerly Known as the Employers


In 2006, NYU professor Jay Rosen penned an astute observation about the changing power relationships in the media industries - and more specifically, the world of journalism - regarding the impact of internet. His analysis had the catchy title "The People Formerly Known as the Audience", and pointed towards a shift in access to reporting tools (news gathering, editing, and publishing) to what used to be imagined by newsworkers as the audience. Importantly, it is not just the tools of reporting now being available to "We the Media" (such as blogging, podcasting, vodcasting, and other forms of social or "our" media), but also emerging forms of legal protection (Creative Commons licensing), and increasing uses of users by professional media organizations, thereby giving the former audience the semi-official status as competitor-colleagues.

Examples of deliberately turning the media consumer into (co-) producer across different creative industries are viral and word-of-mouth (or: "social") marketing, interactive advertising, computer and videogame modification SDKs (Software Development Kits such as the Source SDK of Valve), and citizen journalism, where news organizations indeed call upon their audiences to reconstitute themselves as journalists - such as Yo Periodista at Spanish newspaper El Pais, iReport at American broadcaster CNN, and so on.

Flat Hierarchies

At the heart of this argument is the recognition of a new or modified power relationship between news users and producers, between amateur and professional journalists. It can be heralded as a democratization of media access, as an opening up of the conversation society has with itself, as a way to get more voices heard in an otherwise rather hierarchical and exclusive public sphere. In this scenario, some of the traditional and generally uncontested social power of journalists now flows towards publics, and potentially makes for a flatter hierarchy in the publication and dissemination of news and information.

By all means, this is an important intervention on the audience side. But what industry observers like Rosen tend to omit, underreport, or dismiss is another equally if not more powerful redistribution of power taking place in the contemporary media ecosystem: a sapping of economic and cultural power away from professional journalists by what I like to call The People Formerly known as the Employers. Employers in the media industries increasingly tend to withdraw from labor, that is, from taking responsibility for their creative workforce - instead giving them the feeling that they are just assets that cost money.

Primarily I owe this insight to my friend and brilliant colleague Professor Leopoldina Fortunati of the University of Udine, Italy (who visited us at Indiana University this week).

[update 27.10.08] Some more or less recent concrete examples of TPFKATE and power sapping away from reporters and other professionals in the creative industries, such as a survey in Summer 2008 among media workers at Fairfax (link to PDF) in Australia. The Fairfax study, similar to a survey last year among members of the US Newsguild, shows how media workers among other things report feel unappreciated, see their colleagues (1 out of 3 in the US) lose their jobs for no apparent reason, and experience early retirements without jobs being replaced (other than by temporary staffers, stringers, and freelance correspondents). One of the most crucial and foreboding remarks in the Fairfax report reads: "[...] younger journalists, in particular, [have] become demoralised. There is no sense that the company values its staff."

Recent news signaling powerdrain also comes from plans for mass layoffs at especially newspapers but also in broadcasting, such as in the American news market, and the media industry generally (see IWantMedia's archive from 2000-2006), as overall one in six jobs in the media has dissappeared over the last couple of years.


Employers in the news industry traditionally offered most of their workers permanent contracts, included healthcare and other benefits (at the end of the 20th century sometimes even including maternal leave), pension plans, and in most cases even provisions sponsoring reporters to retrain themselves, participate in workshops, and serve on boards that gave them a formal voice in future planning and strategies of the firm. Today, most if not all of that has disappeared - especially when we consider the youngest journalists at work.

Today, the international news industry is contractually governed by what the International Federation of Journalists euphemistically describes as "atypical work", which means all kinds of freelance, casualized, informal, and otherwise contingent labor arrangements that effectively individualize each and every workers' rights or claims regarding any of the services offered by employers in the traditional sense as mentioned. This, in effect, has workers compete for (projectized, one-off, per-story) jobs rather than employers compete for (the best, brightest, most talented) employees.

Furthermore, newswork in particularly English, Spanish, and German-speaking countries gets increasingly outsourced: to subcontracted temporary workers or even offshored to other countries, where the People Formerly Known as the Employers practice what has been called "Remote Control Journalism." Journalists today have to fight with their employers to keep the little protections they still have, and do so in a cultural context of declining trust and credibility in the eyes of audiences (the few "audiences" that still exist given the Rosen formula), a battle for hearts and minds that they have to wage without support from those who they traditionally relied on: their employers.


So what we see happening in the context of todays new media ecology and the emerging global creative economy is power slowly but surely slipping away from those who we rely on for our entertainment (ex.: the recent writers' and actor's labor disputes in Canada and the US), our advertising (ex.: the widely reported power shift occuring in agencies from creative towards account managers, media planners, and digital consultants), and - perhaps most disturbingly, our news.

For all the brilliance of those advocating a more democrative media system, there is generally nothing in their analysis that acknowledges this erosion of power, this wholesale redistribution of agency away from those who tend to crave only one thing: creative and editorial autonomy. No matter how excited I can get about user-generated content and the collective intelligence of cyberspace, this power shift erodes the very foundation of the way we know (and thus interact with) the world, and our ability to truly function in it autonomously, and on our own terms.

Perhaps we should take this analysis even further: the only way we can live in the world as this power shift continues, is to rely exclusively on our own terms. This in turn inevitably leads to mass solipsism and paranoia - as the only truth we can still believe in has to be strictly our own, and nothing or nobody can (or should) still be trusted. It is the perfect storm.

Paraphrasing Zygmunt Bauman: I am writing this down in the hope of preventing an inevitable disaster.

Media Layoffs, Staff Cuts, Hiring, and New Power

Somewhat depressing, yet also interesting: keeping track of media layoffs and staff cuts. In the United States, this can be done for example through Poynter's Romenesko's news service (specifically for the news industry) and the I Want Media layoffs pages.

What is especially compelling is the discourse around such layoffs, and the shift from print to digital - however, that shift is not equal: loss of print jobs is not matched with gains in digital.

Furthermore, my own research and that of many others suggests that the shift in symbolic power within media organizations to the digital side of things corresponds with less control in the hands of editors and creative as "the show" increasingly gets organized around not just hardware and software, but the IT-savvy people (sometimes "techies") that control the machines. See for example case studies in the global news industry (note: I had the privilege of contributing a chapter to that book, "Making Online News", edited by David Domingo and Chris Paterson).

This not to say tech-savvy people within the media are evil, but they used to be at the bottom of the informal hierarchy. With their newfound power, will they share? Of course not. In the informal nature of workforce relationships throughout the creative industries, symbolic power, (peer review-based) status and prestige are your primarcy source of social capital.

And that kind of capital is switching to digital. In the words of AdRants: "Sadly, in a technologically-driven medium, the creative element sometimes gets a bum deal."

As I wrote: its somewhat depressing, yet also very interesting.

Best Companies to Work for? Not Media

Fortune has released its annual list of 100 Best Companies to Work For (in the United States).

Of course, not a single media company in the list. That just kills me. This is the industry relying on creativity, innovation, talent and entrepreneurship more so than any other - and at the same time it is arguably the shittiest industry to work in if one considers the way it treats its workers (writers' strike, anyone?).

On the other hand, three of the 'Fab Four' companies are in the list: Microsoft (#86), Yahoo (#87), and Google (#1). Not AOL. What can we learn from this?

I'd like to see a list of best places to work for in the various media industries (advertising, film and tv production, computer and video games, news). Let's start compiling reports!

Working in the Media

Great piece by Richard Sambrook, Director of BBC Global News, on what it is like to work in the media - yesterday, today, and after 2015 (posted January 14 on his blog/linkdump, SacredFacts).

Some quotes... on what it was like to build a career in the 20th century (anomalous) heyday of mass media: "Find an organisation you like and dig in for the long haul." Then, on what it is like right now: "Your last boss offered you a corner desk to get you to stay - wtf? You never sit at one anyway."

So what is it like tomorrow? "You have to have a network of contacts to thrive - there is no distinction between home and work."

A funny - if not slightly cynical - view of the future, that is completely 'hyperindividualized', yet also strangely 'social' in that it privileges collective intelligence over solipsistic expertise.

Media Strikes Everywhere

Either it is some strange coincidence, a cultural "rogue wave", my undoubtedly selective perception... or what we are witnessing around the world is just the tip of the iceberg that is labor exploitation in the cultural/creative industries.

Consider the ongoing writers' strike in the American motion pictures industry; the pending strike by CBS News writers in New York; the looming strike among BBC reporters, editors and staff; the recent Europe-wide "Stand Up For Journalism" day; last year's report on the rise of atypical (precarious, uncontracted, contingent) media work by the International Labor Organization (link to PDF); recent and forthcoming books by critical and deeply concerned academics around the world such as David Hesmondhalgh, Andy Pratt, Ned Rossiter, Vincent Mosco and Catherine McKercher; and the growing concerns and job losses associated with runaway production (TV/film), remote control journalism (news), and outsourcing (digital games)...

I'd suggest it is increasingly important to see what connects all of this - not to find "evidence" for oversimplified generalizations about precarity or corporate misconduct, but to look at the situational contexts of these instances of media workers' agency and tactics while staying within the larger media industry ecosystem.