Standing at the Crossroads of Change
The Migrant Creative: U.S. Media Freelancers at the Border of a Changing Work Culture is
a dissertation featuring eleven distinctively creative individuals, involved with media making,
who have been traversing a freelance career path for 15+ years. The rest of the workforce
is now catching up to the media worker who has had a longer history than most
collaborating and co-creating on a per-project basis (e.g. film production, advertising, etc.).
Before the dot-com bubble burst (2000), September
(2001), Facebook (2003), Twitter
(2006), crowdsourcing (http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/14.06/crowds.html), the
subprime meltdown (late 2000s), and the global recession (late 2000s) –- media freelancers
were compensated both financially and creatively for producing content. The remuneration
has been radically altered in the last decade as more freelancers flood the market and
media consumers now have the capacity to also be media producers because of
technological efficiencies (Deuze, 2007). As Thomas Friedman notes in The New York
Times interview discussing globalization, “As a result, we’re now entering what I think is a
fundamental paradigm shift. A truly disruptive, Gutenberg-printing-press-like paradigm
shift, and nobody’s told the kids” (Pearlman & Briody, 2005 March 25).
Media makers already know the precariousness of compressed budgets, time constraints,
and slow payments. As a consequence, freelancers are mustering their own creative skills
for reinventing work; which includes many permutations such as continuing freelance,
developing a business or philanthropic organization, becoming more entrepreneurial,
embracing co-working, negotiating a full or part time position, adapting by downsizing,
switching locations, retiring or a mashing up of the aforementioned. Since many were
never really entrenched in corporate hierarchies, they have been surprisingly improvisational
building lateral relationships across many different domains and in many ways this is what
is required in the new workforce. Media freelancers were early pioneers in a lifestyle that
has now been appropriated by a significant number of workers worldwide. Freelance is not
standalone any more than full-time work is at this point in time. Our concept of what is a
“real job,” a social construction, has been irrevocably altered and expanded to include
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