Who’s to blame for loss of newsroom experience?

(Via Romenesko)

Edward Wasserman says journalists are being shown the door, 10 or 15 years before they would, in the normal course of things, have finished their working lives. “Managing generational change is a delicate matter of achieving a balance of memory and energy, the seasoned and the fresh, certainty and skepticism,” he writes. “It’s a matter not of lowering costs, but of carefully calibrating a newsroom culture. And it’s a challenge that, I’m afraid, is being blown.”
This is a sad state of affairs for my contemporaries, but it isn’t always about saving money. The reality is that younger journalists are simply more technology-savvy than their older counterparts, and unless the old timers get with the program, their “memories” won’t matter at all. This assumes, of course, that the middle-aged journalists can get past their own bias against the technology in the first place, something that’s really not likely to happen.
My concern is the seasoned police reporter in his mid-50s, the streetwise city-page columnist or the business writer who has covered the town’s fat cats since before the savings-and-loan bust of the 1980s. Pruning news staffs has become a managerial routine, and shedding higher-earning — meaning, longer-serving — employees a mark of fiscal prudence. They’re getting six months’, maybe a year’s pay, and they’re gone. So are their Rolodexes, their intuition, the stories they did or meant to do and their deep familiarity with their communities.
Ed’s right that we’re losing this depth, but he wrongly blames managers, when at least part of the blame lies with these reporters themselves. Don’t we owe it to our profession to keep up with that which is new? Otherwise, the best we can do is sit around and wax nostalgic, and that’s the stuff of retirement homes.

And that’s definitely not for me.

Comments

  1. I’ve known some tech savvy oldsters in the news business, and I’ve known some real Luddites among the youngsters.

    Though, when a young reporter is into tech, he or she usually gets the nuances in a way not too many older users do.

    But reporters do have nobody to blame but themselves if they’re not keeping up with our changing media environment.

  2. Not a word about “looks”? It’s not just cost; in too many markets its about being pretty.
    One thing about the news VJ; done right, their work isn’t about primping for the camera.

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