Slog News & Arts

Line Out

Music & Nightlife

« Happiness Together | Google on a Bicycle »

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

In Praise of Older Journalists Taking Buyouts

posted by on April 8 at 12:25 PM

Jack Shafer:

The “retirement” of the buyout brigade has the added benefit of loosening the ugly stranglehold the boomers have over the press. I may be risking self-extermination by advocating wholesale boomer expulsion, but there are just too many of us—especially the older variety—in top slots for journalism’s good. The sheer weight of our presence blocks the promotion of the next generation of talented journalists to the most desirable beats.

We like our nice salaries, we enjoy our benefits and vacation time, we dig our place in the pecking order, and we expect to live forever. So why should we leave? Our intransigence not only gives our product a rancid boomer tang—who can blame nonboomers for being repulsed?—it tends to stifle innovation.

Meanwhile, over on the Web, where news staffs tend to be younger and less tradition-bound, the sort of experimentation newspapers and magazines should be engaging in is a part of the daily routine. If not for age-discrimination legislation and other statutes, our bosses would have cleared us out with sharp-bladed bulldozers long ago and replaced us with younger, more-adaptable, and less-expensive minds. Yes, you heard right. Newsrooms must cut their budgets to survive, and the high-salaried boomers (and pre-boomers) are liabilities.

Fortunately, the one thing boomers understand is money, and the offer of a couple of years’ salary in the form of a buyout has been too great a temptation for many of them to resist. Whenever a journalism vet boards the SS Buyout—no matter how good he is—his departure initiates a series of reassignments that help replenish a news organization’s juices by bringing down the median age of reporters and editors and making it possible for his publication to add a lower-paying entry-level slot.

RSS icon Comments


Slate is *still* online? Why?

Posted by Peter F | April 8, 2008 12:41 PM

When's old Jack taking his buyout?

Posted by J.R. | April 8, 2008 1:10 PM

The author is very, uhh, optimistic there. The only thing reducing salaries of higher-level positions by hiring less experienced, allegedly "innovative" youngsters is going to do is increase corporate profits (or, decrease losses). I am quite certain that no "lower-paying entry-level slot" will be added, although if that is how the author must rationalize his long-overdue departure, so be it.

Posted by don't think so | April 8, 2008 1:28 PM

I'm all for new blood, but it's got to be balanced with some institutional memory. A paper can't do a very good job of covering its community when no one on staff knows the histories/connections/obligations of the community's elected officials, activists, and other people in power.

Posted by giantladysquirrels | April 8, 2008 1:36 PM

As a fellow boomer, Jack, fuck you. I worked hard and long to get what I have. Don't even pretend to speak for me.

Posted by Spoogie | April 8, 2008 1:54 PM

@4: Yeah there is no way anyone under the age of 50 could possibly know or learn about the "histories/connections/obligations of the community's elected officials, activists, and other people in power."

Because this isn't the information age or anything.

Posted by Shilo Urban | April 8, 2008 2:46 PM

Ah, we're entering the era of bitter Boomer entitlement, with a presidential candidate as advance guard.

Posted by Eric F | April 8, 2008 3:15 PM

Bitter Boomer retirement, my ass. If people want to keep working because they enjoy their work, and can keep working, who the hell is anybody else to tell them they shouldn't?

Posted by ivan | April 8, 2008 3:27 PM

DUH! I meant bitter Boomer entitlement, my ass.

I hate this ageist crap anyway, no matter who it comes from. And I am not a Boomer.

Posted by ivan | April 8, 2008 3:29 PM

I agree with Spoogie @5, even if I'm edge gen.

Posted by Will in Seattle | April 8, 2008 3:54 PM

America: the only society where the phrase, "That's history" is a pejorative.

Posted by Laurence Ballard | April 8, 2008 7:26 PM

Boomers: The people who bought us "Human Resources" and killed pensions in favor of the greatest ponzi scheme of all, the 401k.

Don't just retire. Die already.

Posted by Young and Restless | April 8, 2008 10:08 PM

Comments Closed

In order to combat spam, we are no longer accepting comments on this post (or any post more than 14 days old).