The employment sector is one of the most researched sectors given the challenges people, especially graduates, face in their bid to join it. Over the years, there have been reports of reduced employment opportunities worldwide attributed to global economic challenges. The safest routes to the employment sector are job placement and internship both of which are unpaid, and therefore, are a significant discouragement to job seekers. In this case, the focus is on a study by Daniel Ashton on employment in the media industry. The publication of “Making Media Workers: Contesting Film and Television Industry Career Pathways” by Ashton occurred in 2015 on the Television & New Media journal with its focus on the position that the position of the “runner” is largely an entry-level route for individuals interested in film and television production.
Ashton (2015) begins by describing a “runner” as a person at the workplace responsible for usual tasks such as answering office phones, making tea and coffee, delivering posts, collecting equipment, preparing meeting rooms, photocopying documents, and others. The media industry is one of the most competitive globally with several graduates with creative arts and design degrees joining the employment world annually. In fact, reports indicate a significant increase in the percentage of students enrolling in Media Studies degrees. Unfortunately, the creative skills and knowledge possessed by graduates are not appreciated in the media industry implying that they cannot get employment easily. This leaves them with the alternative of working as “runners” and later finding their way up the employment ladder. Based on these perspectives, any reader of the article would not refute the argument that the position of the “runner” is an entry-level route into the film and television production industry.
For the large part, the author’s arguments are based on facts rather than generalizations. Several studies examining employment in the media industry argue that the industry is the most lucrative without providing facts to support the same. Ashton’s argument diverts from this perspective as most of his arguments are backed by data, figures, and facts. For instance, he cites the Creative Skillset Employment Census records of 2006 showing that there were 650 full-time and 1450 freelance “runners” in the media industry that year. Further, the article’s arguments are based on a detailed analysis of industry materials, as well as interviews with higher education students with the experience of working as “runners.” From the analysis, the article has picked the point that graduates’ creative skills in film and TV production are often undervalued and unappreciated in the job market forcing them to work as “runners” while waiting for better opportunities. Based on interviews conducted, one of the findings of this study is that the position of “runner” is a stepping-stone from the bottom. The study’s participants confirmed the position of “runner” as one of the lowest status and least prestigious positions in the film and TV production industry. Further findings indicate that the position is temporary and serves as a step-on ladder to employment opportunities. With these facts in mind, the study’s argument regarding the position of the runner in the film and TV production industry cannot be refuted. However, critics of the author’s argument would argue that for a long time, the position of the “runner” has been used as a means of exploitation rather than as an entry-level route into film and television production.
With the world becoming more competitive than before, organizations and companies including those in the film and TV production sector have shifted focus to profitability. Today, the focus is on hiring individuals who provide cheap labor that helps to achieve set organizational objectives in the long run. Apparently, several graduates with knowledge and skills in film and TV production are undervalued and unappreciated in the sector. Moreover, reports indicate that individuals working in the position of runner experience challenging working conditions and practices. Managers and the top leadership of organizations in the film and TV production industry often advise runners to be tolerant, motivated, and patient, despite working for several hours for not much pay. Further, individuals interested in working as runners in the sector are advised to understand that it is a junior position and that they must not be shy to perform low-rung jobs that are annoying and horrible. What makes matters worse is that runners must have the personality to accept and assume that working in the position is in itself good. Undoubtedly, these perspectives go against the article’s argument that the position of the “runner” is merely an entry-level route into film and television production.
In conclusion, Ashton believes that the position of the “runner” is an unavoidable stepping stone into the film and television sector. He argues that since the creative skills and knowledge possessed by graduates are not appreciated in the media industry, they cannot attain employment in the sector easily and only have the alternative of working as “runners” and later finding their way up the employment ladder. The author’s arguments are largely based on facts, with insights into reports of the 2006 Creative Skillset Employment Census showing that there were 650 full-time and 1450 freelance “runners” in the media industry that year. This critique would be beneficial when it comes to identifying and addressing some of the challenges faced by runners in film and television production. It would also play a phenomenal role in reshaping the film and television production industry in entirety.