By Zach Garner, SPJ Region 3 intern and SPJ student member
In a brazen attempt to leverage my illustrious position as “Intern #1000” for my own personal gain (and pad the crap out of my LinkedIn profile), I thought I’d take the time to tell you why I think I- as a part of the Millennial generation- am a part of the future generation of great journalists.
Here’s my list of five strengths Millennial journalists bring to the metaphorical table.
In the meantime, I’ll be adding “humility” to my resume.
No. 1 Familiarity with evolving platforms (oh, la, la)
I was nine years old when Facebook started.” – Zach Garner
Social media and I have grown up together.
As much as society has changed over time, so too has the way we interact. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are among some of the world’s most popular social media sites and are used daily by millions of people to keep up with one another.
I am a part of the generation who grew up using these platforms. I was nine years old when Facebook started. In other words, Facebook is older than I am. But my generation is capable of using these platforms to reach a greater audience and are doing it so efficiently.
No. 2 A well-connected generation
With social media and technology integrated into our daily lives, this generation has become one of the most-well connected.
On my Facebook alone I have over 1,000 friends with access to my profile, a professional LinkedIn profile and 300 followers on Instagram. And those numbers aren’t uncommon. If
one of my friends on Facebook shares a story I post, anywhere between 2 to 2,000 people
can see it. There’s no limit on how many people can share a story, and no one knows what will go viral.
No one knows what will go viral.”
With LinkedIn, any number of employers can look at my profile, resume and portfolio, find my contact information, and we can connect in minutes.
This kind of accessibility is paramount in journalism.
No. 3 Accessibility of information
While most of our parents scoured the library for hours-on-end to find answers, Millennials have “finding information” down to an art form.
Looking at you, Google.
Almost everyone has access to the internet, but no one knows it like the generation who grew up with it literally in their hands.
Millennial journalists may surprise you with how quickly they can find pertinent information.”
In my communications courses, I was taught how to search for information properly and evaluate the validity of sources.
Furthermore, the combination of familiarity with mass quantities of information together with an analytic eye, millennial journalists may surprise you with how quickly they can find pertinent information.
No. 4 Speed
The world is constantly striving to be faster.”
Considering how deeply integrated technology and the internet is into what I’ll call the Millennial culture, I believe the speed at which Millennial journalists operate will be one of our greatest assets.
We live in a world of instant messaging and downloads that take seconds, and at the same time, the world is constantly striving to be faster. In a business where “breaking news first” is just as important as practicing accuracy, the speed Millennials offer may be the edge journalism so needs if it hopes to survive.
No. 5 Potential
Living as a 20-something is a lot like living in limbo. It offers neither the benefit of childlike innocence nor the outlook offered from extensive experience as an adult. (It’s also a personal assault on my liver.)
What it does offer is a unique perspective. One I believe could be of some value.
In the argument of nature versus nurture, Millennials, like the generations before them, are a product of both.
Our parents try and imbue what lessons they can before their children leave the nests (I hope you love bird imagery as much as I do) – manners, principles and maybe even a sense of right and wrong. They teach us in an effort to protect us. So we don’t make the same mistakes they did. (Whether or not we listen is another discussion entirely.)
But times change, and no two people ever grow up the same way.
In the short time I’ve been alive, I’ve seen the computer go from the behemoth in the basement to the smartphone in my pocket. I’ve sat in a car that parks itself. I’ve studied human anatomy using virtual reality in my living room.”
In the short time I’ve been alive, I’ve seen the computer go from the behemoth in the basement to the smartphone in my pocket. I’ve sat in a car that parks itself. I’ve studied human anatomy using virtual reality in my living room. I voted yes to legalize marijuana in the state of Washington and gay marriage. I watched the twin towers fall when I was six years old and the inauguration of the first black president in the history of the United States when I was 14.
The world that the Millennials grew up in is vastly different than the one their parents knew at their age. Taking lessons from the generations before us, we’ve learned from their past as much as our own, and have learned to traverse this world ourselves.
This, I believe, is an incredibly valuable mindset to have access to/for the world to hear from.
The perspective of an educated young Millennial adult is an incredibly valuable mindset to have access to.
And it’s exactly what journalism needs.
Zach Garner is a senior at Washington State University studying Journalism and Media Production. In May, Garner will be receiving a bachelor’s degree in communication with minors in philosophy and psychology. firstname.lastname@example.org. “I am a run-of-the-mill college white guy.”