Television, newspapers, and the media in general are not “public services”

Written by Jeff Harrison
March 23, 2009

This surprises too many people IMO….
My bro worked at a TV station as creative director, had 8 artists under him. Schools would occasionally bring kids on “field trips” to the TV station.He asked the kids: “Who’s our customers?”Kids: “WE’RE your customers.”My bro would would pinch them back into reality and state: “NO. YOU are the product. Our customers are… The Advertisers.”The kids become puzzled and queasy, realizing that their attention span up until now, and for the rest of their lives has been and will be sold to others.Moral: Television shows only are a necessary evil for TV stations, used only as bait to lure humans of all ages into staring at a TV screen – for as long as possible. That’s why television ratings are so important to manufacturers/retailers/Networks. They determine advertising rates.Newspapers & magazines have readership.Web sites have unique impressions & hits.The radio has listeners.The point of this post: media is paid for by the developers of goods and services. Their goal is for you to exchange your money for something you perceive to be of equal or greater value.As a CorelDRAW user, a large part of your purpose for using the software might be to build persuasive media that entices people to do just that.Some artists feel nauseous in assisting others into inequitable level of wealth & comfort… others feel liberated realizing that this environment of trade is possible for anyone who has the initiative to pursue their dreams.
As a designer, how do you feel about the purpose of media, and are you comfortable in your role for participating in it?

Post Discussion


  1. Rikk

    I feel kinda dirty now-and not in the good way. Most people don’t realize this is the case. It is good to ground ourselves once in a while.

  2. Jeff Harrison

    Hi Rikk,

    I've heard from numerous business people privately about this post. I suspect most readers can surmise that I support capitalism & free enterprise by reading between the lines. They had lots to say…

    Many times, I run into designers who don't understand what their role in a commercial environment really is. There's far more to what they should be considering than type styles, color schemes and photo placement. There's a feeling of dread on occasion for them when I explain.

    Questions I ask myself: "Is this product a fair value, and going to increase happiness/comfort/security for my client's customers?"

    If not… then even I can have an internal struggle, since I wouldn't want to look in the mirror at night thinking about the remorse those customers will likely have. Perhaps it is how defense attorneys feel when they know their client is guilty.

    Designing art… for sales flyers, ads, signage… I do it all. In the the case of flyers, I suspect about 2-10 million pairs of eyes in my city see my work. So I carry a feeling of responsibility, to serve the client, but also not deceive the readers with what I assemble.

    Business philosphy.. oh boy, I could have a whole blog on that alone. 😛

  3. Brad Harrison

    Hey Jeff, it’s your “Big Brother” Brad here, I’m glad this stuck with you as well. You know, in my experience it’s a fairly rare thing to find an “artistic” and a “sales-oriented” mindset in the same person. When we find those persons, who have talent ‘n flair for both, two things are guaranteed:
    1. They will be extremely successful in their career.
    2. They will have huge bargaining power with their employer, until they decide “Hell, I can do this all myself!”

    There is always that push/pull factor between Sales and Production in every environment you can name. There is usually much resentment between both sides.
    The sales staff will invariably be found semi-joking, “all you creatives do is smoke up wierd ideas, and delay me getting paid!”

    The Creatives on the other hand, especially if they know what kind of bucks are involved, invariably feel resentful about how undervalued they are, and how they never get all the creative reign they would like.

    My company gave me what they called “Sales Sensitivity Training” when I was a scrappy/artsy young Commercial producer/writer director. In effect they gave me a few clients, and the power to prospect for more. It was eye-opening, gave me a motivating opportunity for few extra bucks, and truly opened my eyes. The only rule: I could not produce for my sales clients.
    Then, it seemed I was doing a bit too well at the sales end, and the main reps wanted the clients I was developing. So, a year later they stripped me of my clients and made me Creative Director, so I guess it worked – from an upper mgmt standpoint. I was a bit cheezed, but they did make it somewhat worth my while.

    Long and short, both sides have their own sets of challenges. Those who can understand and show empathy for both, will always be a better team player in any corporate environment.

    How many times has a salesperson congratulated a Creative on a job well done/happy client? Many.

    How many times has a Creative person congratulate a Salesperson
    on a big sale. Not nearly as many.

    Consider the difference.



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Jeff Harrison

Jeff Harrison is a media "Jack-of-all-trades", familiar with most of the major media applications on the Windows platform. Whether it's 2D/print, 3D, audio, video, or web-related - he's working on mastering everything that comes his way. He's a past Alpha and Beta tester for Corel, and has instructed students from all over the world. He runs the popular site, the #1 place for CorelDRAW macros. Also check out his youtube page, and his gallery at

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