Is the Media Segment Leading the Way in Freelance Platforms?

procurement news

It seems that sometimes certain business segments provide the right conditions to catalyze digital transformation of old ways. In my neck of the woods — the contingent workforce and the digital transformation of how such labor services are sourced and procured — I am always on the lookout for segments that seem to be fermenting and accelerating in a way that others are not.

While procurement may be most familiar with multicategory online marketplaces, most emerging solutions are quite segmented — and there is variation across segments. New work intermediation platforms (WIPs) serving media businesses illustrate how these solutions both use networked technology to transform old practices and address specific segments to engage specific worker types.

Media Taking the Lead?

One would think segments starting to percolate and accelerate would already have the practices of using freelancers, would be based on knowledge and information transfer and may be undergoing significant digital transformation surrounding the work itself.

I have always considered the translation and localization segment in this regard, but my attention has now shifted to the media. By this, I mean a wider range of media businesses that fluidly engage many types of independent workers, including journalists, writers, photographers and video specialists.

The media segment appears to be percolating with respect to digital transformation and talent sourcing and engagement. In addition, it also shows what a “networked workforce” might be like in the future.

To substantiate the above assertions, I have provided an accounting of various WIPs arising in the segment.

What’s Out There?

To start off, we’ve already covered a couple of interesting cases:

  • Back in June, The Washington Post launched its own private online freelancer platform, The Washington Post Talent Network. The platform enables engagement and payment of journalists, but not only traditional ones. Media savvy, smartphone-slinging recorders of events are also in demand.
  • More recently, we covered Crew Connections’ launch of Crew Cloud. Crew Cloud is “the industry’s first online platform for sourcing global crews,” the company says, which is true. The platform allows clients to manage the entire search and booking process for video production crews, from start to finish — including payment. Unlike The Washington Post’s private platform, Crew Connection is a third-party platform provider serving many companies, including Bravo, Buena Vista Productions, Canadian Broadcasting, CBS, HBO, Disney Channel and Discovery Channel.

Quite recently, I’ve stumbled upon a few other new platforms addressing media freelancers. For example, Vox Media seems to have started developing its own private platform — similar to The Washington Post — with the novel name “Freelancers.”

There are also a few more third-party platform providers. Since I’m covering the media world, rather try to describe what they do, I’ll use visuals.

PayDesk looks to be a pretty standard online freelancer engagement platform (end of story):


Blink gives news teams the ability to geographically pinpoint and engage freelance journalists on a dime, across more than 150 countries. Now that’s reach.


Current, now in beta, is a little like the Uber of media freelancers: non-professionals can use their own phones to capture photos and videos of events. The owner of Current, Capture Media, built an enterprise software platform that gives publishers access to worldwide coverage directly from social networks and smartphone cameras. Current appears to be the way for Capture to “capture” — and recruit and engage — a network of freelance image, video and information providers.


There are a few other media freelancer engagement platforms, such as Periscope and Newsmodo, but by now, I am sure you get the picture.

Why Should Services Procurement Care?

Well, there are few reasons:

  • These cases provide vivid illustrations of what the engagement of independent workforce can be like and is already like: a networked workforce that can be global, that can perform work through networked technology tools like image-capturing smartphones.
  • Most digital work arrangement platforms are not multicategory. They instead address specific segments and engage specific worker types. This is not just media workers — there are examples in software development, software testing, data science, medicine, law, national security and even voices. The list goes on.
  • The media examples above demonstrate how digital transformation in certain industry and occupational segments can take off. There can be rapid acceleration, even tipping points. Large enterprise adoption can start to occur in different segments.
  • Finally, these examples start to suggest how contingent workforce sourcing and engagement really does become procurement of services, as some types of engagements become on-demand and can be fulfilled through a crowd of workers.

There probably are some good reasons for procurement practitioners to take note of these developments. Looking at examples like these provides important opportunities for anticipatory learning and thinking through future procurement scenarios.

That’s the news for today. Thank you for listening.

Want to learn more about the opportunities present in engaging freelance and independent workers? Read our recent complimentary research brief: The Independent Workforce: A New Vein Of Opportunity for Spend Visibility and Savings?

Please follow Andrew Karpie on Twitter @andrewkarpie

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