Experience on the wane in journalism

N20S1PicThe ‘Worlds of Journalism’ project is an international attempt to better understand the changes in the professional orientations of journalists as well as the conditions under which they operate.
Academics in 70 countries are participating in the research project and the first results relating to this country were carried in The Irish Times last week.
The article was written by Waterford-born journalist and academic, Kevin Rafter, who is Professor of Political Communication at Dublin City University and is one of the authors and contributors to the project. His entire article is well worth reading but one aspect really caught my eye.
Basically, the research gathered shows that Irish journalists are a talented lot and are strongly committed to codes of professional ethics. But they are getting younger and that is presenting problems.
Almost 70 per cent are in the 25-44 age category compared to 55 per cent 10 years ago which means that middle-aged to almost retirement-age journalists are getting fewer and fewer.
There are many reasons for this change and high on the list would be the fact that, these days, journalists are working longer and more unsocial hours for less money.
Pressure mounts and quite a few decide to get out of the ‘heat’ and seek other, less stressful jobs that are sometimes better paid.
“Given the pivotal role played by the media in ‘educating and informing’ the public about societal issues, there must be concern about the ability of younger journalists to offer serious editorial context when reporting and contextualising major news stories. The drain of experience from journalism is a real problem,” points out the survey.
Without wishing to be ageist, I have to say I agree and one can find examples of what the academics are talking about in the media every week.
Respectfully, I would also suggest that this phenomenon is very evident in all sectors of our society, including politics.
A lot of the hot water that politicians find themselves in, especially when in government, is caused by decisions being taken by people who don’t appear to have the experience or guile to see the bigger picture or to have the ability to see the consequences of a particular decision several steps further down the line.

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