The millennials speak

JAWS CAMP 2011, JAWS CAMP blog l

By Sandra Fish

Here’s a look at media and the millennials from several perspectives:

Lauren Whaley went to school in Maine. She really liked the magazine Alpinist, so she emailed the editor once a week for three months until she got an internship there. She lived to Jackson, Wyo., worked for the local newspaper, then started a website covering local issues. She then attended the University of Southern California specialized journalism program and is now focused on audio, doing multimedia in California.

“There are lots of new models popping up. Which ones will be sustainable, we’ll see.”

She’d like a JAWS discussion about new models, technology and finding ways to interact with businesspeople.

Jessica Rettig, a new JAWS board member from Washington, D.C., she’s a reporting for U.S. News & World Report covering politics and policy. “You can be an entrepreneur at any age. That’s especially true of our generation. All the structures have been taken down.” She says her friend that are most fulfilled are working at tech startups. “We are graduating college at a time of recession.” She notes that she’d love to do international journalism, but the opportunity there appears to be freelancing.

This generation is getting news on their telephones, and may not even realize they’re consuming news.

How can JAWS help her: “There is sort of a lack of mentorship at work.” They could use more guidance, even with things like asking for raises.

Erica Phillips has an economics degree. She networked with alumni who were journalists. “I just spent five years doing a lot of random things.” She  worked as a business consultant, immigration paralegal and music freelancing, then went to the one-year grad program at University of Southern California. Now she’s covering entertainment court cases for the Daily Journal in Los Angeles. She also writes music reviews during the evenings.

Phillips suggests there’s a need for media literacy resources for teachers of high school or middle school students. Even a phone app tailored toward youth would be good.

“We’ve grown up in a world of blogs, so we have this sensibility that we can self-publish… There’s a lot of people writing online. We just don’t have any money. We’re still working our day jobs where we’re working for old white men who pay to read what we write. There’s this disconnect with the older generation with the money going one way and our energy going the other way,” Phillips said.

She notes that advertising always has paid the bulk of the cost of journalism. If forced to pay for online subscriptions, they will.  But, she said: “Advertisers should just pay more for online advertisers.”

Aviva Gat didn’t necessarily  “All I knew was I really wanted to write.” She now covers bankruptcy cases for The Deal and does a weekly column. The bulk of their revenue comes from a subscription email product. “Our big revenue comes from emailing PDFs.”

Gat notes that Twitter offers plenty of headlines. “We’re getting information in all kind of different directions.”

Karen Cheung went to Boston University majoring in photojournalism. “When I left college, I had $7 in my bank account. My parents cut me off…. I cleaned houses, did odd jobs. I did some free work. One newspaper offered me $15 per published photo.” Eventually she got a gig with, whose CEO started the company at age 10 and was 21 when Cheung worked there. This led to her work in B2B (business-to-business) publications. She’s now at Fierce Healthcare in Washington, D.C.

“How do you monetize what you want to do and produce quality content?” Cheung asked. She noted that Fierce owns a variety of specialty publications that exist on advertising and events. They distribute information via email. She passes leads to their sales team about sources that might want to buy ads. “I want to get paid at the end of the week, so I know this is what we have to do.”

Cheung says her company often aggregates news, pulling stories and information from other sources, talking with hospital executives and giving a perspective for them. They do link back to the original stories.  “I kind of have mixed feelings about the aggregate news model.” And they’re also creating more original content to combine with the aggregation.

She asks if everyone in the room works for a man – there are under 20 people, no one works for a women (though some of us have in the past). On the pay equity, she says you need to research and ask for what you think you deserve.

A few views from the, shall we say, elders:

Judy Beck from the Scripps Foundation pointed out that this generation isn’t willing to pay for the news that’s being produced.

Said Lisa Carricaburu: “High quality news comes from somewhere. The best thing people your age can do is place value on real journalism.”

Gwenyth Doland says she subscribes “for the street cred, even though I read half of it online.”

From Beryl Adcock: “I get the Washington Post, my hometown newspaper, in print, because the Kindle version doesn’t have ads. It doesn’t have weather charts.”

Adcock noted that news organizations erred by giving away their content for free online from the get-go. Meanwhile, advertisers have different ways to reach their markets. “The advertiser-paid news model is broken.”