By: Kristina Ackermann
One of the “nominations” I received this year for our annual 25 Under 35 recognition turned out to be an anonymous complaint that E&P is discriminating against older workers by only writing about young people.
Not that “25 Over 65” wouldn’t be an interesting story; it would. But the letter writer (whoever you may be) seems to have missed the point.
We don’t run this story every year in some diplomatic effort to include everyone. It’s not an exercise in political correctness. We spotlight the under-35 demographic (OK, “35 and under” is more accurate), because these young publishers, editors, advertising reps, and managers are the ones who will be steering the ship when this industry ploughs head on into the constantly evolving, mostly digital future. If we have any hope of retaining our own careers, we need to pay attention to the ideas of those who are unencumbered by the “way things have always been done.” It’s not discrimination; it’s just facts.
The Gen-Xers and Millenials you’ll read about here are innovators. Twenty-four-year-old Marlize Van Romburgh implemented a full-scale website redesign and paywall strategy based on research she performed for her senior thesis in college. You wouldn’t read that in the “25 Over 65” feature.
And while digital prowess, social media navigation, and multiplatform content creation are indeed top of mind for many of these young professionals, what some members of the old guard don’t realize is that the under-35-year-olds are just as rigorously trained in journalism ethics and investigative reporting. Thirty-two-year-old Zahira Torres was recognized for her lengthy investigation and dogged public records requests that prompted the removal of the local school district’s elected board members.
Across the board, the common characteristic that unites these 25 young professionals is their strong work ethic. Many of them earned promotions and worked their way up the ladder simply by virtue of not refusing additional work when it was asked of them. Thirty-three-year-old Adam Sears has taken on so many additional tasks that his job title doesn’t even scratch the surface of everything he’s responsible for on any given day. Having two or more job titles and even multiple sets of business cards is a common occurrence in this crowd.
So if you’re upset about all the coverage of the darn kids these days, there’s a good chance this feature is for you. The stories are inspiring, the specific business ideas can be tweaked and applied to just about any publication, and any one of the people profiled could be your boss someday. But don’t worry. They may be young, but they still keep bourbon in their office. Some journalism traditions never die.