Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 154, Issue 2, pp 575–585 | Cite as

Straight from the Source? Media Framing of Creative Crowd Labor and Resultant Ethical Concerns

  • Kim Bartel SheehanEmail author
  • Matthew Pittman
Original Paper


Increasing numbers of marketers are turning to the crowd—members of the public engaged with brands via the Internet—to develop marketing and advertising campaigns. Some marketers use social media to connect directly with customers, while others use crowdsourcing agencies to harness the power of crowd labor. As more members of the public become aware of creative crowdsourcing, they look to the media to understand more about it. As a result, it is important to examine how the media currently frame creative crowdsourcing to the public, particularly when numerous ethical issues about crowdsourcing have been identified (e.g. work is devalued as crowdworkers earn little money and no benefits for their work). This study examines media coverage of creative crowdsourcing to examine how benefits and challenges are presented. Informed by a framework developed by Swain (Understanding and communicating science: new agendas in communication, Routledge, London, pp 209–232, 2009), results indicate that most media coverage focuses solely on benefits to the industry: benefits to the ‘crowd’ are rarely discussed, yet drawbacks to the crowd are mentioned more frequently than drawbacks for the industry. This provides a skewed vision of what creative crowdsourcing is and may affect participation in the practice.


Marketing Crowdsourcing Creative work Advertising 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of OregonEugeneUSA

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