Beating heart of creativity in media

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Managing Media WorkEdited byMARK DEUZE
Managing Media WorkEdited byMARK DEUZE

All media organisations have reservoirs of unused creativity, observes Lucy Küng in one of the essays included in Managing Media Work, edited by Mark Deuze (

Liberate innovation

Acknowledging that most creative individuals who have chosen to work in the media want to exercise their talents and will do so in the face of organisational obstacles, Küng notes that an important element of managing creative organisations is not to strew unnecessary obstacles in the path of creativity.

The author assures that the levels of ongoing creativity can be raised through the appropriate management of a range of subtle interdependencies spanning team tasks, job descriptions, feedback, performance metrics, control mechanisms, and even business models.

She reminds established media organisations, which fear they will be outrun by new players in the digital economy, that hotshot new media companies do not have a higher creativity quotient than older ones.

“They simply place fewer blocks in the way of their people acting on their creative drive and insight. The ‘old' media have all the necessary resources to innovate and succeed — they just need to liberate them.”

Content is not king

A chapter devoted to ‘the management of the creative industries' by Chris Bilton opens by stating that today, with the massive oversupply of content, content is not king. Attention has shifted from the ‘what' of content to the ‘how' of delivery, branding, and customer relationships — in other words, towards management — explains Bilton.

Marketing and branding

The author finds that marketing and branding have emerged as cultural industries in their own right. He adds that branding and marketing have moved from being the process for differentiating generic products to being a product in their own right; and that in a saturated market, trademarks, logos, and brands require higher levels of investment and deliver higher levels of profit than traditional manufacturing. “The international division of labour means that manufacture is often undertaken using cheap labour in developing countries, with marketing (and profit) concentrated among a handful of global corporations.”

Cognitariat, the new proletariat

An essay on ‘the new international division of cultural labour' by Toby Miller cites A. Negri for the description that people mired in contingent media work are the ‘cognitariat' because they have considerable educational attainment and great facility with cultural technologies and genres; and the cognitariat plays key roles in the production and circulation of goods and services, through both creation and coordination. Today's ‘culturalisation of production' may enable these intellectuals, by placing them at the centre of world economies, but it also disables them, because it does so under conditions of flexible production and ideologies of ‘freedom,' the author cautions.

“This new proletariat is not defined in terms of factories, manufacturing, or opposition to ruling-class power and ideology. Indeed, it is formed from those whose immediate forbears, with similar or less cultural capital, were the salariat, and confident of guaranteed health care and retirement income. It lacks both the organisation of the traditional working class and the political entrée of the old middle class.”

D. Murali

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated November 18, 2010)
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