Old Media Staff to New

The Newosaur blog has a short article on the disenchantment many young professionals are feeling in traditional media companies, and the resulting brain drain. The article focuses on journalism, but it might as well be about publishing, or libraries for that matter.

But the young net natives, for the most part, rank too low in the organizations that employ them to be invited to the pivotal discussions determining the strategic initiatives that could help their employers sustain their franchises.

“In most organizations, the people with the most online experience have the least political capital,” said one mid-level online editor at a newspaper. …

Members of the wired generation say the process, bureaucracy and caution common to most media companies steals spontaneity and edginess away from ideas that could be appealing to their peers.

“Management is more concerned about who owns the change than they are about creating change,” said the online newspaper editor.

As the writer, Alan Mutter, observes, part of this sentiment is just age-old generational rebellion. But there is a particular poignancy in these stories, and in their frequency, among established content industries. A lot of the struggle reported here has less to do with youth rebellion than with the more fundamental strategy of protecting existing business patterns at the expense of taking risks to develop new ones — risks that often threaten the seemingly solid base upon which established institutions stand. This story of conflict is as old, and as relentlessly saddening, as the story of generations.

It’s also worth pointing out that while youth may pre-dispose toward fresh outlooks, I know plenty of older hands whose experiences have inexorably driven them toward openness, critique, and change; however, unless they are lucky enough to be seen as vectors of change, they are likely to be more frustratingly trapped by ageism than the young can ever yet imagine. They are as much a part of the brain drain as the flight of the young.