The Informal Media Economy

The Informal Media Economy

This week’s reading from Lobato and Thomas delves into the nature of creative labour in the informal media economy, and the pros and cons of informal and freelance work. This chapter deals with some of the issues I’ve already witnessed cropping up in my own few experiences of the media industry, that of precarious freelance work and the exploitation of workers through unpaid internships.

One of the most interesting takeaways for me was this mix of pleasure, dissatisfaction and self-exploitation in regards to labour-intensive creative work. “…[T]he glamour and pleasure of creative work provide a foil for extraction, creating consensual forms of domination in which works are eager participants” (p. 74). This is something I feel is quite prominent in production, and whilst low budgets and long shoot days are, for the most part, unavoidable, the willingness of students and just-starting-out creatives to be exploited for the excitement and exclusivity of being on a film set is kind of dumbfounding. We see it again and again with unpaid internships and the promise of “experience” offered to young creatives in all facets of media production.

Lobato and Thomas further discuss solutions to these problems, in the way of formalisation and some of the possible drawbacks to this. Ultimately, it’s one of those things I guess where creatives need to take control of their own careers, know the value of their skills and how to assess future opportunities; what will they gain from unpaid or lowly paid work, how will this help further their career and how does it stack up against similar opportunities in the industry? It’s all interesting food for thought, as someone who has endured more than my fair share of unpaid internships, I feel I’m at a point where my skills and my experience warrant proper remuneration. How to negotiate future work and fair pay, whether it be precarious freelancing or full-time secure employment within a company, will be something I will continue to learn and grow upon throughout my career I’m sure.