Gig Economy

The Daily Beast recently published uber-editor Tina Brown’s provocative riff ?The Gig Economy,? which examines the trend toward freelance and contract work due to layoffs and other workplace woes. The media sector, long a safe-harbor for freelancers, has been particularly hard hit, which has resulted in, of course, more freelancers. With all the contraction in the industry, it’s rather like watching a time-lapse film of cells multiplying in a Petri dish. Will I soon be among this hoary zygote of media types (again)? Perhaps, for nary a day goes by that I don’t receive an online alert that some publication somewhere has folded, or read a headline about heads rolling out the newsroom. Will the result of all this ink-letting be, as Brown observed, ?the chronic surge in typographical errors in newspapers that just fired their entire copy desk?? Yes. Been there, done that, bought the T-shit. [sic]

Throughout the purge (including the one that recently lost me several wine country cronies), I ‘ve been inspired by the resilience of those in the industry, the doers, the self-starters ? or self-re-starters, as the case may be. If we must be lone wolves, let’s be a pack of lone wolves. In heist flicks, no one is ?on staff.? When you do the bank job, the safe-cracker and the get-away driver aren’t on payroll ? like the explosives expert and the gun moll, they’re all in the big gig alone ? together. Granted, canines and criminals don’t make for the most savory of analogies, but a model is coalescing (see ?The Newsroom of the Future?). When a bank teller cries ?Wolf!? in a newsroom, will there be anyone left to hear? Okay, forget the above analogies. Here’s another (Hellenistic) analogy:

Titans: Chief god Kronos, noted for eating young.
Olympians: Chief god Zeus, noted for rampant reproduction. Overthrew Titans.

Old media is titanic. New media is Olympic.

Illogical (but somehow validating) extension:

One hit an iceberg. One went gold.

Listen to Tina Brown discussing the Gig Economy on NPR’s Talk of the Nation.