So I’ve been reading this book my Dad sent me a few weeks ago.
It’s not that impressive so far (about 100 pages in). The mentions in the title of MySpace and YouTube seem to have been tacked on in order to sell books, fittingly enough, and the authors make their political alignments clear from the start.
But what I am enjoying are the bits of theory about political re-alignment based on generational changes.
For example, generations are broken down into types: Civic and Idealistic are two of them.
The Baby Boomers (read as: aging editors, j-school faculty, columnists, and older reporters) are an Idealistic generation, the book tells us.
The Millenials (read as: the young interns and fresh-faced multitaskers causing all sorts of ruckuses in your newsrooms with their blogging and whatnot) are a Civic generation.
The Idealists came of age in the 1960s. They focus on morals – right and wrong, black and white. That concentration of resources on debatable and subjective issues (like, say, objectivity) make for a slow moving government (or news organization). Voters become disillusioned, participation drops, and authority figures are not looked upon kindly.
A Civic generation, on the other hand, like the current Millenials (born between around 1980 and 1994 or so, depending on which reference you consult) or the G.I. Generation, is more pragmatic. They use new communication technologies to get things done. They’re committed to political involvement, believe in the system, and participate in great numbers.
(An aside: I’m old enough to qualify for Generation X, the disconnected, disaffected grunge-listeners that fell in between these sexier re-alignment cycles.)
All this is just to say that I do believe age has something to do with innovation, especially when it comes to the news business.
I alluded to some persistent “generational frustration” the other day when I was declaring my independence from a generalization, and then the post wandered away from that notion a bit.
But I’ll say this: I’m excited to see where this Civic generation takes news.
It’s not going to be the same place that the previous generation took it. This generation’s news will look more like the work of Holovaty and Sites than Woodward and Bernstein, because they’re simply not the same people.
The influences are different, the reasoning is different, the thought process and the toolset are different. And so is the audience, if we can still call them that for a fleeting moment before the familiar models of storyteller and listener completely and finally break down.