Writing for E-Media Tidbits, Maryn McKenna says that many mid-career professionals are abandoning the trade.
The lean, quick, lower-cost jobs of “Journalism 2.0” don’t make sense to many mid-career journalists. To be clear, the “don’t make sense” part is not “I despise technology and resist it.” Rather, it is: “I do not see opportunities to display my long-honed skills and expertise.” And as a result, some newsrooms that are attempting the shift to the Web are losing substantial numbers of mid-career people.
In my travels around the industry, making my own observations, talking with other executives, the personnel/cultural adoption issues isn’t with the veterans. The people I affectionately call the “gray hairs” (I have a few myself), are eager for new challenges and are excited by what they’re learning online. They are more realistic about the challenges we face.
The cub reporters, not so much. The kids right out of college, they’re the ones most likely to cling to a romanticism about being the crusading print reporter. When I talk about web-first publishing, they’re the ones most likely to say, “but won’t we scoop ourselves?”Â Or when handed a video camera, they say, “but I got in this business to be a writer.”
I’ve heard from more than one fellow executive the tale of promising young reporters taking jobs in PR because that somehow seemed more palatable doing this online stuff.
Here’s the part I agree with:
Web-based means of storytelling, and hyperlocal stories, do offer such opportunities. But my experience is that many writers don’t believe it. Instead, they feel their work being squeezed into from-above templates that devalue the best skills they have to offer.
Stories are where you find them, and looking back at the best-read stories I ever wrote, they weren’t found in state capitols or city halls.