SXSW 2012: #BigBabies – Why Baby Boomers = Public Media FAIL

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Thanks everyone who braved the rain and came to our SXSW panel this morning!

I’d like to especially thank Dee Kapila for proposing the panel in the first place, fellow-panelist Jonathan Coffman and a huge huge thanks to John Barth from PRX for stepping in to moderate at the 11th hour when our planned moderator got sick and had to cancel.

Here is some of the collected feedback from Twitter. We’re working on a longer, more detailed summary of the session and will have that up in the near future.

We’d also love to keep this conversation going, so if you have any thoughts, feedback or other questions, feel free to leave a comment on this post. We’d love to hear from you!

#BigBabies: Why Baby Boomers = Public Media FAIL

Tweets from the #BigBabies panel at SXSWi 2012.

Storified by adam schweigert · Sat, Mar 10 2012 13:23:53

#bigbabies panel with @deekgeek @aschweig @jdcoffman excellent panel!!!!
#bigbabies panel @aschweig @deekgeek @jdcoffman @johnbarth #sketchno @ Sheraton Austin Hotel at the Capitol Phan
I sincerely hope #pubmedia managers, editors, and EPs are reading #bigbabies tweets from #sxsw.angelaishere
Only a couple folks raised hands to ID as boomers at #bigbabies The part of @vivianschiller will be played by John Barth todayJulia Schrenkler
.@juliaschrenkler I sure hope more. If not, we shld burn the audio to CD (cassette?) and snail mail it to all #bigbabies in #pubmediarekha6
Lots of "boomers" up in here … #BigBabies should be a great talk. #sxsw "a former generation prepares to hand off to a new generation"Miss D.
Generational difference in work culture? Barth says new gen: collaborative, old gen: hierarchical, "authoritarian" #bigbabiesJessica Plautz
#sxsw #bigbabies Barth recommends reading: ‘The Next 20 Years: How Customer and Workforce Attitudes will Evolve’Jessica Plautz
Next 20 Years: How Customer and Workforce Attitudes Will Evolve – Harvard Business Reviewby Neil Howe, William Strauss Source: Harvard Business Review 14 pages. Publication date: Jul 01, 2007. Prod. #: R0707B-PDF-ENG Business …
Points expected to cover in #bigbabies session: work culture changes, generational clash, the maker culture vs titleJulia Schrenkler
As an HR person this talk about generations in an organization rings true. #bigbabiesGeorge Lara
#sxsw #bigbabies NPR, public radio born in the 70s. Founders were redesigning #pubmedia for their own generation – Barth.Jessica Plautz
Point #1 – “It’s Not About You” (it’s about the audience)
#bigbabies panel – Barth mod – @deekgeek @aschweig @jdcoffman (slide: "It’s not about you") Schrenkler
Point #2 – “The redesign is never finished” (iterative and ongoing processes over big show rebrand/redesign)
"The redesign is never finished." #Bigbabies #sxswiAARP Foundation
.@deekgeek In digital media, "the redesign is never finished." Outlets need to be fluid, agile, adaptable. #SXSW #bigbabiesJessica Plautz
The user-centered approach has permanently evolved the traditional broadcasting model to 2-way conversations -@jdcoffman #bigbabiesKaren Lee
Point #3 – We need to move past meeting culture/decision making by committee
#bigbabies No. 3: "Really, another meeting?" Recurring idea at #sxsw panels: ENOUGH WITH THE MEETINGS.Jessica Plautz
Boomers have meetings, millenials ? why mtg. (GenX sits in middle and keeps building the whole Internet while being called lazy.) #bigbabiesBrian Underwood
Meetings need go produce action items or yield decision making. Not a time to necessarily just "catch up" #BigBabies #sxsw #sxswi #pubmediaMiss D.
AMEN. Meetings need to have a point. Better ways to share info #bigbabiesGeorge Lara
Cancel all staff meetings! Yeah! But how do you make people read those email updates? Hmmm #sxsw #BigBabiesGretchen Shelby
Point #4 – Millenials have glamorized failure
No. 4. @deekgeek: "You’re not just innovating for innovation’s sake." Experiment, but also measure. If a plan’s failing, kill it. #bigbabiesJessica Plautz
#bigbabies @deekgeek talking about glamorizing failure and how that freaks out managers – should think about measured outcomeJulia Schrenkler
Failure is good, embrace trying stuff and failing sometimes. But! Don’t forget to have metrics, know what fails and why. #bigbabies #sxswBrian Underwood
Point #5 – Look outside of public media for inspiration, end the turf battles
No. 5 "Look Outside" @aschweig emphasizes partnerships, collaborations: Learning opportunity, & req. for public media’s survival. #bigbabiesJessica Plautz
#bigbabies @aschweig recommends #pubmedia to look outside – model after start ups, quit turf battlesJulia Schrenkler
Public media needs to team up, not compete with each other to survive. -@aschweig #bigbabiesKaren Lee
Point #6 – Millenials need mentors to help us become the next generation of leaders
#sxsw #bigbabies Jon Coffman says that younger #pubmedia workers need mentors—something AIR provides:
Millennial’s want mentors, something most Boomer managers aren’t familiar with. #Bigbabies #sxswiAARP Foundation
Mentors wanted: YES! I want to learn from yr station. Convergence is pioneering every day. What are you doing that’s working? #bigbabiesSuzanne Marmion
Completely agree w/ @deekgeek’s emphasis on mentors in the workplace: "Who can I learn from? Who can I look up to?" #bigbabiesJessica Plautz
Wholeheartedly agree with @deekgeek on looking for mentors. #BigBabies i’m at #sxsw looking for mentors to tell me what I’m doing wrong.Kathy Phan
Gen Xers actually make good mentors in my experience — because we work independently and collaboratively. #bigbabies #pubmediastacybond
This. => RT @AIRmedia: #sxswi #bigbabies Coffman: boomers and Xers/milennials both have a responsibility to listen, critique, debateDeb S.
Emphasis on importance of mentoring to bridge generation gaps. Not just a boomer issue but a human issue. #bigbabies #sxswBrian Underwood
Boomer on the mic "this is a fantastic session, I’ve taken more notes in this session than any other" #BigBabies I can feel the love! #sxswMiss D.
#sxswi #bigbabies Audience member recommends Margaret Wheatly in thinking about organization change:
M A R G A R E T J. W H E A T L E YAll photos by Margaret Wheatley. Please email our webmaster with any questions regarding this web site. © 2001-2010 Margaret J. Wheatley….
"That was millennial sarcasm, in case you missed it." – @deekgeek #bigbabies #sxsw Wonder why we’re known for that…Jessica Plautz
Point #7 – Don’t expect tech staff to be able to do everything
"Tech in a box." One digital employee can’t do every tech job in the newsroom; expectations require adjustment. #bigbabies #sxswJessica Plautz
Tech in a box. Hey boomers stop asking us to fix your printer! #BigBabies #sxswMiss D.
#sxswi #bigbabies Don’t expect millenials to know every single tech platform and piece of equipment–not sustainableAIR
Yes! So true! @deekgeek explains "Boomers have to hire new media staff for EACH position, not expect one person to do all jobs" #bigbabiesJuan Garcia
#bigbabies @JohnBarth makes good point about boomer expectation that mills know about tech. @deekgeek offers ham radio as humorous exampleJulia Schrenkler
Now they’re saying millenials don’t understand ham radio? The gloves are off! #bigbabies #sxswBrian Underwood
Point #8 – Millenials tend to be impatient, have a sense of entitlement
"Millennial’s tend to be impatient." – @jdcoffman #Bigbabies #sxswiAARP Foundation
@jdcoffman #bigbabies Can’t wait for #pubmedia to catch up with skills and creativity—all panelists got out and switched careersAIR
"We Can’t Wait" — Millenials want to move up faster. A Schweigert admits they may not understand the process. #pubmedia #bigbabiesstacybond
Milennials "we can’t wait" promote us now give us more money we’ve never held a job for 5 years. We’ll leave if we get bored. #bigbabiesAARP Illinois
.@jdcoffman: Money not why panelists left #pubmedia. It was need for creativity, innovation. #bigbabies #sxswJessica Plautz
Boomers: may hold job an entire life and worked way up the ladder. Loyal to one company. #bigbabies #sxswAARP Illinois
Surprisingly, many #pubmedia folks aren’t in it for the money. Other rewards, mission++ #bigbabies #sxswBduSF
#pubmedia rewards not just money – gotta understand that. Oh lawdy, how well I know that. #bigbabiesJulia Schrenkler
Point #9 – Public media’s growing talent gap
#pubmedia missed opportunity. RT @sdadjou Talent gap developing as frustrated millennials are leaving #publicmedia #BigBabiesAngela Kim
Talent leaving #pubmedia is a "big, big" problem. What’s necessary to retain talented people? @aschweig #bigbabiesJessica Plautz
Millenials panelist AS says many are leaving public media. I’m not sure that’s a trend. Folks tend to come back too. #pubmedia #bigbabiesstacybond
Is it hard to find interactive talent for #pubmedia because of compensation? #bigbabies #sxswiProxybot
#pubmedia doesn’t just need the best journalists, it needs the best designers and developers as well. #bigbabiesProxybot
It’s very difficult to find talented developers in #pubmedia. #bigbabies Anyone at #SXSWi have any opinions why?Proxybot
Speaking to familiar difficulty to hire/retain good developers in #pubmedia. Yet there are some good ones here. #bigbabies #sxswBrian Underwood
#bigbabies Hey I work with GREAT developers. Talk with me and I’ll introduce you online.juliaschrenkler
John Barth mentions difficulty finding developers to work in #pubmedia. That is a trend in a lot of industries though. #pubmedia #bigbabiesstacybond
@stacybond I’d say it is #pubmedia #bigbabiesTeresa Gorman
Agree that boomers may not know where/how to find talent. #pubmedia #bigbabiesstacybond
The reality in attracting talent in pub media "it’s not in the budget" #bigbabiessaandstorm
What would make you come back (or what would make you stay)?
Barth asks panelists: "What would make you come back" to #pubmedia? #bigbabies #sxsw Answers…JessicaPlautz
The panelists are speaking about what it would take to go back to #pubmedia. #bigbabies They all love it, but they felt they topped out.Proxybot
.@deekgeek: 1. Need mentors. 2. Don’t ask one person to do *every* tech job. #bigbabiesJessica Plautz
Millenial would come back to #pubmedia if had good mentor…but YOU are leading us with innovation! #bigbabiessuzannemarmion
Wonder if Millenials have considered looking into how to cultivate a mentor? Have they asked anyone to mentor them? #pubmedia #bigbabiesstacybond
.@aschweig: Mentors, also. And: Need to see a career path. And: Needs a big challenge, a big, forward-seeking project. #bigbabiesJessicaPlautz
#bigbabies What would make them come back to #pubmedia? "I just want a big fat problem to solve."—aschweigAIRmedia
Agreed. don’t want to teach you email either “@AIRmedia: #bigbabies What would make them come back? "a big fat problem to solve."@aschweig”Kathy Phan
The panelists at #bigbabies are looking for new and different problems that they couldn’t find in #pubmedia.Proxybot
@JessicaPlautz How about "What would have made them stay?" I worry about retention & recognizing talent already in public media. #bigbabiesangelaishere
.@jdcoffman: Mentors (again). And: Says he wants to see #pubmedia progress, needs the work being done to create progress. #bigbabiesJessicaPlautz
Sounds like we need to ask staff: what’s a problem that interests you (but also serves our audience!)? How do we solve it? Go! #bigbabiessuzannemarmion
What About Gen X?
Boomers vs Millennials. I guess Gen X is the lost generation of pubmedia. #SXSWi #bigbabiesJosh Andrews
Top GenX talent in pubmedia exiled from stations and networks. Most are indie #SXSWi #bigbabiesJosh Andrews
As a GenXer (maybe?) I’m just humming stuck in the middle with you. Both of you #bigbabiesJulia Schrenkler
Hasn’t the economy exaggerated this problem? Stations are left with only boomer managers and cheap under 30 labor #SXSWi #bigbabiesJosh Andrews
How has Boomers directly managing Millenials been a challenge after mid-mgmt Gen X was laid off? #bigbabiesProxybot
Panel is shocked that #pubmedia invested in Gen X and then abandoned them. #bigbabiesProxybot
What about content?
Q: What’s missing in programming for milennials? A: @jdcoffman: Need content makers who understand audience. #bigbabiesJessica Plautz
#bigbabies sometimes I think #pubmedia just has to allow for idea that we are not the audience for all shows/content we prod for othersJulia Schrenkler
Also missing in programming for milennials is a show just like Prairie Home Companion, only with puppets. #bigbabies #sxswBrian Underwood
Advice for people looking to get into public media now?
@Proxybot If there’s time — what’s your advice to those who are thinking about getting into or out of #pubmedia now? #bigbabiesAngela Kim
Did you see me ask this question to the #bigbabies panel on the behalf of @angelaishere?
@angelaishere asks the #bigbabies panel a question throughsouthxproxy
John Barth advises millenials to remember "you are hiring your boss." #pubmedia #bigbabiesstacybond
Great thought from @deekgeek about modern careers. Forgot industry, "go where you can do the work you want to do" #sxsw #bigbabiesRob Evans
Fantastic session!! Thanks @deekgeek @johnbarth @jdcoffman @aschweig #BigBabies #sxswsdadjou
I do wish the panel talked about content, audience and donors. We cater too much to #bigbabiessaandstorm
#bigbabies How do you convince boomers that a twitter campaign isn’t one tweet a wk? It will inevitably fail to meet expectations.InsuranceMktg

2 thoughts on “SXSW 2012: #BigBabies – Why Baby Boomers = Public Media FAIL

  1. Holy crap! This one page, compiled from your panel, encapsulates my entire #pubmedia career (such as it was). GenX (which I am) is definitely the “lost generation” of public media. I couldn’t get anywhere useful in the system after a few years. Boomers in the corner offices were all about the top-down and the maintenance of the old models — experimentation and new thinking was a threat. Boomers also religiously defended their positions rather than focusing on mission in a changing media landscape. Where experiments were tried, it was done on the backs of cheap 20-something labor with no real direction, which yielded classic failure, which was punished.

    I’ve concluded there is no hope for the current public media models, aside from guarding existing territory. There are pockets of good work where the money supports it (NPR), but broadly the system faces increasing irrelevance and collapsing funding in the years to come. The only hope is that an organization like NPR could take over public media as a whole, leading it with a clarified central mission (news) and greater efficiencies and economies of scale.

    There’s a future out there for the mission and principles of public media. But it won’t be led by Boomers, who are just skating to retirement and taking everything for themselves along the way.

    Today I’m back in healthcare technology, and lemme tell you something — this is a fast-moving and fascinating industry comprised of multiple generations and players at all levels of government, nonprofits, and private companies. It’s not as simple as public media, and there are many factions with different ideas about the future. But technology and communications and media are all part of that future and everyone knows it.

    God bless you to the Millenials and GenXers still working in public media. You guys are doing great work and I hope you’re not suffering too much. Just know there are places for you out there, outside public media, where you can have a community impact and don’t have to be second-class citizens in your own workplaces.

  2. I wasn’t in Austin for SXSW and would’ve missed this hugely valuable discussion — except that you took the time to curate it so well, Adam. Thank so much, I’m sharing it widely.

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