Take the Leap, Stay Relevant

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The other day I had brunch with a couple of journalists who write for niche publications that come out both online and in print. They’ve been doing so for a decade, are well connected and skilled at what they do.

Naturally the conversation drifted to the way online media has changed journalism in terms of profits, job security, and the skills that reporters need today. The more we talked about this, a sense of fear and resistance rose from these two journalists. One of them said that his plan was to try to hold out for another decade without losing his job or having to learn new skills, then he would retire.

I can’t think of a worse way to end a career: spending the last ten years of your working life feeling afraid and defensive, hoping that things don’t change too much, hoping you can stay relevant enough to survive.

This man decided that trying to delay change in the media industry in order to make sure his knowledge stays relevant is a better idea than learning how to stay relevant in a changing industry.

Market forces always prevail and we can’t pull the entire media industry back from the edge of any cliff. We’ve already fallen over the cliff. The change is already here.

Being an expert these days, especially in the media industries, means being willing to learn. Knowing how to create a newsletter in MS Word doesn’t mean that Word is the best tool for the job. Understanding a certain business model doesn’t mean you should use that business model. It’s hard work to always think about what could be rather than what is. And nobody wants to lose their expertise. I certainly don’t. But none of us can stay relevant if we only use the knowledge we acquired yesterday.

It’s just hard to believe that there are intelligent people out there who refuse to believe this.


Author: Hannah Johnson

When I first came to New York City, I almost ran over Liza Minelli with my suitcase. Then I got a job in book publishing.

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