The Power And Progression Of Millennial Journalism
If life were a car, you’d be the engine; the gas, change -- the substance that fuels everything around you. Think about it. Maybe you graduated from college, walked in front of your peers, grabbed your diploma and felt everything stop. Gone were the days of waking up to a group of friends looking to help you when you needed it; now you had to look for help yourself and for a second, you thought: “Wow, I have no clue where to go from here.”
The thought may linger, it may keep you at home -- for days -- feeling uninspired, too. It’s not permanent; I promise you that. Think back to the car analogy. I’m sure you feel like your once “luxury car” has since broken down or that you hit a “road block” and that you just can’t move. The fact is, your life -- your car -- simply has a fuel gauge stuck on E, and desperately needs some change in your life, to get you up and moving again.
I get it, change may not always be well-received, it may not always be wanted -- but the fact is, it’s necessary for progression. Ah, progression: I urge you to think critically about what that word really means.
By definition, progression is “a movement or development toward a destination or a more advanced state, especially gradually or in stages.” There are two key parts of that definition. Movement, and more advanced. Change inspires both of these concepts. That's progression.
For my sports fans, think about basketball around the middle of the 1970s and think of our hypothetical “car” as the NBA. At this point in time, the NBA -- if not broken down already -- was swerving in and out of lanes on the highway -- and you could already hear the engine ticking.
The game needed change, in a big way: Racial tensions were rising with more momentum than Dr. J from the foul line, drug problems were intoxicating the public image of the league and, simply put, people just didn’t care that much. Think about this: Until 1980, the NBA Finals were broadcasted in a tape-delayed manner. That means, you couldn’t even hear a “play by play” unless you stayed up till 11:30 pm. That’s absurd.
The league was stagnant, and the car certainly wasn’t moving. In the summers of 1978 and '79, respectively, Larry Bird and Magic Johnson entered the NBA. The Celtics, seen as the “white” team from Boston, drafted, well, another white player. The Lakers, seen as the “flashy, black” team from LA, drafted, well, one more “flashy, black” player.
These two players’ additions to their seemingly stereotypical homes didn’t appear to be “change,” at all. In an aesthetic sense, the blacks got blacker, the whites got whiter. At the same time, it was their mindsets, their mentalities, which provided the change -- and progression -- to catapult the league to what we know it as, today.
Larry Bird and Magic Johnson took the nation’s fixation on race, and transformed it into what they cared about: winning. By the middle of the following decade, the two became America’s biggest, most endeared rivals, and it had nothing to do with one being white and the other being black. Soon, the entire nation didn’t care about race, either. That’s progression.
Again, the game changed around the early 90s. Bird’s back needed constant attention from medical aides and Magic’s HIV-positive condition needed constant medical attention to avoid AIDS. They passed the baton to Michael Jordan, who left his mark in his own way, doing his own thing. You know, I hated LeBron James because he didn’t do the “Michael Jordan thing” in 2010, when he decided to “bring his talents to South Beach.” It’s for that same reason why, today, I respect LeBron James. He did the “LeBron James thing” and changed the game in his own way. So, who’s next?
I think about what I do, right now. This very piece, the one you’re reading at the moment, at least hopefully. If you’re following my words, you’re part of something bigger, perhaps without even knowing it. Here’s a little bit about me, Dan Scotti. I’m 22 years of age, and I recently graduated with a degree in psychology, from a school in Bumblef*ck, New York, better known as Binghamton University. A little over a year ago, I had planned on putting myself through three years of law school, with only one thing in mind: money.
I suppose you could say my car was moving, albeit not all that smoothly because, to be frank -- my heart, in the field of law, just wasn’t on the same plane as my lust for a lawyer’s salary. It wasn’t even in the same stratosphere.
One fateful evening, an old buddy of mine -- one whom I hadn’t spoken to in years -- reached out to me, and told me about this company he’d been writing for. He said he remembered how witty I was, back in the day, and how he felt as though I’d be a good fit for the platform he’d been contributing to -- this website, called Elite Daily.
I thought to myself:
"Self, you have no clue what the f*ck Elite Daily is. You’ve never written anything in your life -- besides overly verbose, sometimes sarcastic, okay, most of the time sarcastic -- text messages, ones that don’t even get answered a lot of the times. But, you know something? You’re pretty bored, anyway, and law school definitely isn’t going anywhere. Why not shake sh*t up?”
I stayed up that entire night, writing what essentially was an amalgamation of all my sarcastic text messages, and sent it to my old friend. By that summer, I had found a job -- and, most importantly, a passion -- at Elite Daily. I found my fuel gauge on F, and I even found something I might actually be good at. I found myself hungry.
I switched lanes, from thoughts of law school to writing, and it certainly didn’t come without a few “honks” and middle fingers in my rearview mirror. When I started writing for this website, Elite Daily, most people -- like myself, at the beginning -- didn’t know what the f*ck Elite Daily was. I heard a lot of jokes, and a slew of less than motivational words from many different people that summer.
By next fall, the once small Elite Daily was now constantly popping up on the screens of computers in the Binghamton University library, and flooding most of my Facebook news feed in the process. In a few months time, the ones who previously had negative words to say, now had lunch for days.
It was then, when I started realizing just how much power I had, seemingly at my fingertips. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not claiming to be a superhero of any magnitude, or even a fraction of Jack Kerouac, but at the same time, I’d be ignorant to overlook the amount of eyes that read some of my work on a day-to-day basis. I now ask you to think about journalism, as a whole, as -- you guessed it -- another “car.” Think of “Generation-Y” as the engine.
Journalism, in the traditional sense, has been fading out. A change in style was inevitable. Maybe blame Steve Jobs (may he rest in peace) for introducing the iPad and, in the process, the death of print media. May it rest in peace. But, I’d go out on a limb and say that a lot of those same eyes that peruse the contents of Elite Daily on any given morning, rarely went to CNN or flipped through the New York Times to get their news first.
I’d venture to say most of them didn’t check FOX News to get a second opinion, either. And I write this with no intention of slighting those publications of that nature because I’m probably in the minority of young adults who still pick up a New York Post (for the sports section and Page Six) and a New York Times (for the crossword, and everything else) each morning; it’s simply a change in the times.
I don’t know for sure what sprung about this change. I’m not sure if members of Generation-Y will turn 28, and suddenly -- like a child’s affection for candy while he's young -- snap out of their Millennial youthfulness and start opting for “more mature” sources of news. But, then again, maybe they won’t.
I mean, I still pick up a Twix bar at the gas station from time to time. The aspect of young people reading young writers provides a connection that the audience can relate to. There’s a special realness to it, a connection that the generation of Baby Boomers just doesn’t, and most likely won’t ever, understand -- and it’s quite understandably so.
It’s no different in music, is it? Our parents grew up listening to the Grateful Dead, Billy Joel, Bruce Springsteen and the Beatles. Sure, I listen to all of them too, but I grew up listening to Sublime, Drake and 50 Cent. There’s a difference. My parents, to this day, don’t really understand the music I listen to, and I don’t shove it in their ears.
I love the Grateful Dead, but I can’t really say I understand them -- at least not in the same way as someone who actually stood in Bethel Woods and listened to Jerry Garcia pull-off in person. Your dad won’t have unconditional love for Eminem either because he wasn’t a kid in the 2000s, battling teen angst and -- let’s not beat around the bush -- a minor, yet temporary, identity-crisis.
You can sit around and debate which generation’s taste in music is superior all f*cking day, but, ultimately: What’s mine is mine, and what’s yours will always be yours.
No one is better, we're all different. Unless Jordan could go back in time, re-lace his Carmine XIs and play LeBron mano-a-mano, I simply don’t see the importance of comparing apples to oranges. Motts and Tropicana both focused on building their own multimillion-dollar empires, instead of having a pissing contest. Which, given the abundance of juice around them, probably would've lasted a while.
Journalism surely parallels this relationship. My stream of consciousness throughout a day in NYC -- more likely than not -- won’t appeal to, or mirror, that of my mother’s.
That’s fine with me. I speak to my mother about entirely different matters, what I write and what eventually gets published is for my contemporaries. My contemporaries -- who are soon to be the doctors, lawyers and world-changers of tomorrow -- but will always be my friends. It’s crazy to think about that, huh?
I’m two weeks removed from a fraternity house only to be rivaled by the debauchery and antics of those in "Animal House." I lived with 16 guys, all of whom routinely read my work. A lot of those guys will do things for this world, far greater than Elite Daily. I know, for a fact, they don’t just read my sh*t to be polite. Trust me, manners went out the window when I met them. They read my work, and the work of other young writers, simply because they can relate to it.
I guess, in a way that’s what brought about the shift in journalistic preference, which we -- as members of Generation Y -- are living through, today. It’s not that Gen-Y journalists are providing any state-of-the-art form of written material, it’s not that our vocabulary is more cutting-edge. It’s the fact that what we’re writing about is more relevant to the readers, themselves, which empowers them in a mode, which more traditional sources of news don’t allow for, by their nature. It's about connecting to the audience.
Don’t get me wrong. Comparing what I do, to, say, a Senior Writer for the Times, is equally as fruitless as comparing LeBron James to Michael Jordan. I certainly don’t mean to insinuate, or even hint, that I’m as good as LeBron James is at basketball or in any aspect of my existence -- especially writing. I’m simply saying it’s as fruitless as comparing apples to oranges. Some days you’ll want an apple. Sometimes when you’re sick, you’ll need an orange.
Okay, one last time, I swear. Journalism is the car. Change is the fuel. You have the wheel. At the end of the day, whatever direction you choose to go, that will always be in your -- the reader’s -- hands. And that, right there, is the ageless beauty of journalism.
Photo credit: House Of Cards/Netflix