We bounce from deadline to deadline, shift to shift and from one re-org to another so often that we forget how fundamentally media work has changed in the past decade.
Blame the microchip in the computer in front of you.
What used to be called the digital revolution has led to a complete overhaul in how we work. There’s the obsession with ensuring all information and images be absolutely up-to-the-minute, an expectation of universal access to our work, which is being done from anywhere and everywhere and at all hours of the day.
A conference called Digital Labour: Workers, Authors, Citizens is being held next month at the University of Western Ontario to explore these and other issues– focusing on people who work in information, entertainment and creative industries. Both on-the-ground perspectives (from union leaders like me) and academic papers will be presented.
I want to reflect the real work life of Guild members as accurately as possible at this conference. So I need you. Do you work in an online unit where you need to update all the time? Are you a reporter under daily pressure to rejig or repurpose your story? Do you work across several media lines because the technology enables you to do so? Are you a video editor whose job has been eliminated because of desktop television? Are you a reporter or producer who now also has to edit video on your desktop? If so, I want to hear from you. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and from there I’d like to set aside a few minutes to interview you. (Though it would be another extra task in your loaded day, you get to vent while you do it.)
The questions I’d like to explore are whether these changes have been advantageous or disadvantageous, taken as a whole– or a bit of both. Do you have more or less control over your work than you did a decade ago? Do you juggle between speed and value-added content? Do you get adequate training? Has your career path changed because of the technology? What’s your workday like? If you are a freelancer, how has the digital environment affected your control over copyright and your fees?
I look forward to your responses and to taking some valuable (and increasingly rare) time to explore the impact all this change has had on us as media workers.
Lise Lareau is national president of the Canadian Media Guild.