Media, particularly that which is meant to attract the indifference of youth, has to be more informed by the end user.
Riding the El in Philadelphia, I see this truancy ad with Bill Cosby pretty often.
Maybe I’m just cynical, but this seems so clearly to be an ad that completely ignores its audience. This ad’s message of getting kids to go to school was made by adults, for adults or by high-achieving kids, for high-achieving kids.
I’m not sure I believe that any kid who is at risk for skipping school would look at this ad and be moved to change his or her ways.
It’s a picture of an aged Bill Cosby and a pack of clean cut students, suggesting going to school ‘made me a winner.’ I don’t believe it’s compelling: nameless kids and an older celebrity. I don’t think there is anyone there who, without context, would inspire other students to follow this suggested path.
What would be compelling, I believe, is making clear the looming risks of not graduating high school.
It’s the seemingly unintentional, passive-aggressive jab that I sometimes get from older or otherwise more established journalists, writers and editors. Most often and in many ways, I’m sure the sentiment is pristine in its accuracy, often abutted by the never-to-be-defended-against “it takes time,” which, of course is always true.
But I can’t help but think what’s happened since, say, 2007 or even later, is something bigger that is changing the value of a lot of once rock solid professional advice for young and otherwise aspiring journalists, and making it awfully hard out there.
Editors have been cut. I assume there are more young journalists freelancing and those with staff jobs can’t be getting the same attention. College journalism professors are almost all naturally inclined to a generation no longer here.
Who the hell is teaching the next generation of journalists?
Oh, they matter. If you don’t think they do, you missed it.
Last week, I shook the hand of another young journalist. I suppose he felt eye-contact was uncomfortable, so he looked down, offered me an awkwardly limp, motionless form of his hand for a second and pulled away.
It was a train wreck of a handshake, and I was stunned. I thought that’s knowledge of old, something a generation past figured out and has since become necessary cultural learning. But not for this young man, whose work I enjoy.
Please don’t mistake the old learning of the handshake to mean it’s outdated. All the social media in the world can’t make up for the trust and personal understanding that can pass through a firm interlock of right hands. Any freelancer or aspiring media type needs this skill down flat.