A year of intergenerational learning

“How Would You Feel About A 100-Year-Old Doctor?”

This recent New York Times headline got me wondering if I was digital journalism’s version of a 100-year-old doctor. After all, I’m old enough to have my 50th high school reunion penciled in on my calendar for next year.

Why would Nieman Lab ask somebody as old as I am to predict the future of journalism?

My answer, as an AARP card-carrying Boomer, is that I’m predicting 2023 will be a year of intergenerational learning that will have a positive impact on the future of journalism. There is so much we can do together if we can build on the experiences that have shaped how we see the world and live our lives. Gen Xers, Millennials, Gen Zers, and Boomers, it’s time to join forces to make journalism that serves all of our communities and helps make our world a better place for all.

Here are some positive signs there is value in our hard-won gray hairs and wrinkles.

This year, LION Publishers launched a program that paired experienced managers with a cohort of early-stage news leaders to train them on how to manage money and risk. The coaches shared both their successes and failures, along with the lessons they learned along the way. It was inspiring to see firsthand how the program’s participants worked together to build the future of journalism.
In December, Open News hosted SRCCON: Care. a gathering dedicated to creating a culture of care in newsrooms. One session focused on the importance of building intergenerational relations in the workplace. Attendees worked together on how to “create bridges between our generational divides where we can pass lessons both up and down to build a culture of caring and respect.”
Plans are already underway by major journalism funders to build teams of experienced coaches and consultants to work with their grantees. This idea recognizes that it’s not enough to provide funding and access to technology. Foundations are counting on the expertise of experienced managers and innovators to work with grantees to optimize the impact of their investments.

Admittedly, there are a lot of factors that could get in the way of my prediction coming true. One obvious one is that Boomers have the hubris to believe that we know what’s best. That’s just one of many justifiable reasons that our experience is undervalued. Members of my generation have had an unfair advantage due to our gender, race, and privilege. We may not even know what we don’t know or the harm we have caused.

That said, local news is in crisis. Public trust in journalism is at an all-time low. Our business model is failing. The first amendment is under attack. What does our industry have to lose? Maybe Boomers like me can leverage our experience to clean up some of the mess our generation created.

Check back with me next year to find out.

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