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Losing young employees

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Write-brained, May 11, 2008.

  1. I've stumbled upon another consequence of our industry's sorry state.

    A wave of employees in their mid- to late-20s is leaving our newspaper either for grad school, law school or starting their own web ventures. It makes sense for them because they're young and can afford to find a new career.

    Granted, it means fewer buyouts or layoffs if and when that time comes, but what does it mean for our industry that we're losing some of those best-equipped to lead newspapers into the digital age?

    Two of the people are leaving because they were unhappy with our paper's web site presentation - they're actually taking their ideas with them to create their own news site here in town.

    While I hate to see older reporters and editors pushed out because of their salaries - as someone in my 30s, I will likely be in the same boat within the next decade if I don't change careers - it seems to me newspapers should be paying more attention to their younger employees.

  2. Frank_Ridgeway

    Frank_Ridgeway Well-Known Member

    That's always been the case, though. A lot to law school. There's always been a high percentage of people who, after a few years, decided they'd be paid better and treated better doing something else.
  3. True. I have about a dozen friends who are now attorneys because they left the business about three or four years in.

    I guess my biggest concern is losing the people who are smart and ambitious enough to start their own business and becoming competitors with them.
  4. Frank_Ridgeway

    Frank_Ridgeway Well-Known Member

    We've always had that concern. But then you have to ask yourself whether being smart and ambitious enough to succeed in a somewhat related or unrelated field means they are necessarily a genius at the field they just left? I think probably not. They were good journalists. But you're not going to transform something if you don't have passion for it, and you have passion for it, other fields don't call you. So I kind of doubt the people who leave young were going to provide the magic answer.
  5. Come now, you never entertained a thought of starting your own fledgling paper and competing against the paper you're at now? I would guess we all have.

    Yet now, people can do it without the overhead of having to buy a printer press or hire an advertising staff. It's called the internet, and the younger generation knows how to do it better than most papers.
  6. Frank_Ridgeway

    Frank_Ridgeway Well-Known Member

    Sure. But then you haven't left the industry, which was your original point.

    That's naive. My dreams of starting a publication always include hiring advertising professionals. Although my dad was an ad man, I know I'm not qualified to do their job.

    I've yet to see any evidence that young journalists know how to do it better than most papers. I see evidence that some young people know how to make a buck off the Web with sites geared to amusements, e-commerce, opinion, socializing. But I see zero evidence of them doing this with any kind of news-gathering operation that doesn't sponge off old-media content.
  7. kleeda

    kleeda Active Member

    With an attitude of not hiring Web journalists back at the turn of the century and the current idea of just repurposing "newspaper" managers to the Web, nearly every paper I know of has saifd "no thanks" to two generations of professionals that vcould have helped lead them into the new media world. They did indeed reap what they sowed.
  8. old_tony

    old_tony Well-Known Member

    Until this business starts treating good people well, anyone who's truly smart will be looking to get out. Right not I feel like a fool for having stuck it out.
  9. mike311gd

    mike311gd Active Member

    One of my best friends in the field left about 14 months ago to work at Proctor and Gamble. Now he works on an assembly line, packaging rolls of toilet paper and napkins. He missed the writing, but nothing else.
  10. wannabeu

    wannabeu Member

    I don't think the younger employees are getting out of the newspaper business to generate their own Web content as much as they are realizing that this profession is quickly going down hill and there are better jobs (higher paying, better hours, treated better) out there. So they are going back to get their masters degrees or going into a whole nother profession. I am kind of stuck in this profession. If I was younger and single I would already have left this job. Does anybody have a time machine I can use?
  11. Joe Williams

    Joe Williams Well-Known Member

    NO ONE is stuck. If you're young, you have time on your side -- in fact, you'd be foolish to stick around and dig a deeper hole in this profession than you already have. You are low enough on the salary scale, relative to other industries, that you probably could take starting pay doing something else and either break even or get a raise.

    If you're older, you don't have time on your side -- which means you'd better do something now to seize all the time you have left. It kills me that some friends in this business are 15-20 years away from retirement age but already are talking about "hanging on." That is one hell of a long time, a whole bunch of years to throw away in this one term on Earth. I'd rather take my chances in the great unknown than enabling the gasbags and daddy's boys who have plowed this business into the ground. I know this isn't getting any better, and I'm not so pessimistic to think that I couldn't find something at least equally bad -- and probably way better.

    Plus my whole orientation would be different, knowing I took an active hand in my fate rather than accepting a lousy situation as if I'm a guest of honor at Guantanamo Bay. That's why I'm looking now.
  12. wannabeu

    wannabeu Member

    I like your point of view better. I guess you can tell I kind of have a negative outlook on things instead of looking at things in a positive way. I have to work on that.
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