I didn’t plan to post this, I didn’t even ask for his permission, therefore I really hope he will forgive me. It’s not an interview, but it highlightens some important media issues and it can certainly make you reconsider your own answers and questions; that’s why I’ve decided to share it with you. Meet Nigel and his observations concerning the media industry and the teaching system:
[…] I spent most of my early career in advertising and media […]
My observations of the media industry are these.
A. The industry has amtured into a sweatbox… some would say it always was.
B. It is a team sport played by individuals with oversized egos (Note: I did not say talent!)
C. It is an industry awash with the problem children of the meddling and the mediocre class. Young adults who would have been packed off to work in the Catholic Church during the renaissance or the enlightenment. The reason I walked away in the end was simply the banality of the people and the ideas I had to work with.
D. The people who own and operate media companies know that everybody wants to be in the industry and pay and treat their employees accordingly
E. To be successful in the Media Industry you need a sponsor. A champion who will open the doors for you. In the beginning your talent isn’t going to be enough – simply because to be honest talent is no longer a factor for success in media (Think Reality TV). Your success will be down to your political ability rather than your creative ability. It isn’t so much who you know but how you position yourself when the breakthrough opportunity arises. This means you need to learn how to simple an congradulate people enthusiatically even when you know what they have presented is utter dross. [My note: I don’t want to believe that’s the only way. I mean, I’ve always worked for/with talented and smart people and they never needed this kind of “treatment” in order to give someone a chance. They were people who stood their ground and the people working for them were people who stood their ground, too. They have thaught me to keep my spine straight and that’s what I will always do, no matter the consequences. For every atom of matter there’s also an atom of anti-matter. And for every person who needs to be congratulated, there’s also a person who will love the way you don’t bend down your spine.You just have to be lucky enough to find him/her. True, they are very rare and ’cause of that maybe they can’t make the difference. But they do exist. And the moment you find one of them is certainly worth all the struggling.]
F. Today real talent in the media game is as rare as hen’s teeth. Why? because today real talent chases the money rather than the kudos. The became bankers rather than artists. Consequently the quality talent pool in the media industry is getting old… very old. So old I suspect that the real reason the newspapers, magazines and the TV stations are struggling to reinvent themselves is simply because the real talent of your generation is busy elsewhere. Genetic engineering perhaps?
G. If you are going to do this think new media not old. Yes, study how the greats rode the wave of each new media (Think: Chaplin, DW Griffiths, Eisenstein and Orsan Wells for Film, Gore Vidal for TV, Hearst for Newspapers) but forget the past and embrace and lead what your generation is doing with media today. If you chase the future while the problem children of the meddling and the mediocre class are chasing the past you’ll find the experience a lot more enjoyable and no doubt far more financially rewarding in the long run.
So my message is yes its all very nice to dream about yesterday but it is much better to own tomorrow.
Moving on to Teaching.
I left TV production to start my very own media course. The Government gave my team $5 Million and we built “state of the art” TV studios, photo studios and classrooms full of computer graphics workstations.
It was my chance to set right all the things I believed to be wrong with what I studied at University. It took me 3 years to write the course and build the complex and I lasted 2 years in the job as course controller. In reality I was bored after the first 12 months. The kids just didn’t challenge me with their ideas. Most where simply killing time dreaming about making it rather than driving hard to make sure they would make it. Having said that some went on to great things. But I can’t help but feel in the end the winners make it despite the system rather than because of the system.
Put simply if you can do it. Just do it. Don’t waste your creative energy on teaching others. Inspire them by what you do rather than what you have to say. If you are good enough your talent will be a big enough call to action to rouse the next generation to be like you.
This is not to say there isn’t a role for great teachers but it isn’t about nuturing genius. Genius finds its own way.
Teaching is there to help the mediocre to become more than the sum total of their (sometimes meager) talents. The very best teachers love people before they love media. They provide the inspiration that enchants their students to begin looking at new ways of seeing the world. They delight in seeing the world through the eyes of others.
To be continued…