this post was originally posted on Tomorrow’s News Tomorrow’s Journalists and it was my first contribution to the project.
The young generations grew up in a world where media is totally different to what it was for our parents and the generations before them. Like any social change, it takes some time to adjust to a new reality and there is always a culture and generational clash. It’s going to take some years (decades, I’d say) until everything is going full-speed.
Computers, cell phones, internet… they’ve all been present for the vast majority of my twenty-something years. I grew up with them and, in doing so, adapting myself to their presence was a natural and unconscious process. Not so for our parents.
Many older journalists seem to be refusing to adjust to this shift in the cultural paradigm. It’s not our job to tell them they’re wrong - they’ll figure it out by themselves. In many cases, they adjust ever so slightly, by using the web as an archive for material published in the past. The web is still the print’s poor cousin for these journalists and they can’t quite see its potential.
We just happened to be doing what we do in this time. We’re experiencing journalism and communication in a time when journalism and communication are going through major changes. We’re a part of that change and we’re able to embrace it. Others aren’t and probably won’t. Perhaps this is a bit too pessimistic but it’s possible that things will only get better once our generation becomes the old generation that fills up the big chairs in the newsrooms.
The biggest challenge is not the lack of employment – there are always stories to be told and people that want to know them so being pro-active will always take you somewhere. The biggest challenge is not the fact that most school curricula do not prepare us for the job but only leave us with a brain full of theories, that would only be good for a conversation in a bar and not much else. Theory is something good to have when you need to look smart but the job will really only be learnt once they hand you a notebook or a dictaphone and send you out of the newsroom.
None of those challenges or fears come close to the problem we’re facing for being the generation at work during the shift. Sure they’re right when they say they had their challenges and changes to face. However, moving from the man on the bike dropping the newspaper at your doorstep to the RSS feed reader or the email newsletter is one of the biggest changes the world has ever faced. Living and working in a time where both co-exist is perhaps one of the hardest jobs to have and the young journalists’ biggest challenge.