Being Beta

Exercises in the higher banter with One of 26. Elsewhere called 'poet of adland'. By a whipple-squeezer. Find out why being beta is the new alpha: betarish at googlemail dot com

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Tristram passes round the begging bowl

Sorry, that heading's a tad trite, but I thought it was worth sharing Libby Purves' column in The Times today, which is the first one that I've seen that deals with the issue of the institutionalising of unpaid labour in media and creative industries (she does have a slightly unwarranted pop at The Guardian, considering that they do a hell of a lot more re bursaries to get people of non white, non-middle class backrounds in than News International.)

But her point still stands (and she doesn't get round to mentioning advertising, which does something similar and often for longer periods of time).

The danger of all this she summarises as:

a widening gulf, a social and cultural imbalance in the media trades. The kids who get the flying start with contacts and experience are the ones whose parents can afford to keep them. They live in roomy London houses and hand out an allowance and perhaps a deposit on a flat. Their children know they will inherit in later life to compensate for not having money to save. This small financial elite will increasingly monopolise the communicative professions, because all the other kids, cumbered by student debt and perhaps living far from cities, will have to find non- media jobs, however creative their minds may be.

So don’t be surprised when public discourse gets ever shriller, smugger, more chicly urban and more detached from majority Britain. Media start-up jobs are the new Eton-Oxford-and-the-Guards.

Which is true. And dangerous, as it is not an accurate reflection of the country. Which has ramifications for the way in which a country talks to itself, designs policies for itself and understands itself. (And I speak as someone who is/was Comprehensive-Oxford-FT-LSE-design agency-design start up.)


What is perhaps less true is her assertion that nothing - and certainly nothing governmental - can be done to change this. Perhaps not governmental, but consumer-wise, why ever not? Start by buying newspapers that do not just talk to Islington, Surrey and pockets of SW London - even better, launch one. I'll come join you.

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