How Different Generations Navigate the New World of Digital Media 24/7 News Cycles

Generational Approaches to the Changing Media Landscape

Anyone who is in their 40s now would no doubt have seen the transformation of the Media and the Media Driven business, political, and social landscape since the early 1990s when the internet was in its infancy to the present when we are Always on, and News Cycles run nonstop 24/7.

Indeed, for those Gen Xers (or the generation that came of age during the 1990s) who embraced the internet and then social media and the Smartphone revolution, there was a time in the 1980s when they were in the school where these technologies did not exist. On the other hand, anyone in their 20s and 30s now would not have known a world beyond social media and the 24/7 news cycles since they have been the first truly Digital Generation that was born with the Internet in their hands.

On the contrary, for those in their 50s and 60s (who are approaching retirement), the internet is a bit of an alien land where the old certainties of news and information being delivered at a slow pace are now well and truly relics of the past which have now morphed into a fast-paced and nanosecond response time age.

Thus, it is clear that there exists both a generation gap as well as a mindset gap as far as the contemporary workforce (comprised of employees in their 20s to the 50s) is concerned.

This means that contemporary corporates as well as political leaders and social influencers have either born into the digital revolution or have embraced it early on or are adopting and adapting to it slowly.

How Different Generations Navigate the Media Landscape

These different perspectives and relationships with technology often shape how modern firms, political parties, and social groups navigate the Always on Media and Information Landscape.

For instance, even now, there are many thought leaders and influencers who still swear by traditional media and for whom, disseminating information means calling a press conference as opposed to the Millennials for whom the Virtual Reality is more important than the Face to Face physical reality.

In addition, among those business leaders who are at the top of their professions, response times to events and Breaking News is still in the hours or days wherein for those who are the Digital Natives, such responses are usually instantaneous and in real time.

This means that contemporary firms often face challenges in the way they respond to real-world events as well as business situations due to the generational as well as mindset differences between the Boomer Generation who are retiring and the Gen Xers who are itching to replace them and the Millennials who are starting out in their careers.

This can also be seen in the way many traditional businesses have been upended by the disruptive power of the new technologies wherein Startups are often more valuable than venerable decades old or century-old firms with rich histories.

Indeed, some of this culture gap and mindset gap in the way older and younger generations navigate the present media landscape manifests in the way the former and the latter respond to emergencies whether they are business related or society related.

For instance, the first response of Millennials to Earthquakes or Terrorist attacks is to check Facebook and Twitter for updates whereas, for older Boomers, it is sometimes the norm to check the Television first.

In addition, Millennials invariably use Facebook to organize events and conferences with dedicated Facebook pages for such happenings whereas the Boomers still rely on either calling the attendees personally or sending out an email and printed invites.

How Contemporary Firms and Political Parties Employ Different Media Strategies

While this can seem as being generalizing or stereotyping the generations, it is indeed the case in many firms where all the three generations comprise the workforce and where the Media Interface Function often involves the entire range of responses starting with the traditional, the modern, and the postmodern.

In other words, considering the breakneck speed at which news is disseminated and consumed, the media cells of many firms often employ different strategies such as organizing immediate responses through social media, press releases through email, and Annual General Meetings through secured electronic and physical communications.

Such embrace of all the media is not confined to businesses and corporates alone as can be seen from the way in which political parties and their media cells follow similar strategies wherein they respond in real time on Facebook and Twitter, send out emails for scheduled press briefings, and personal invites for important events through phone and face to face interactions.

Indeed, even governments have begun this strategy of embracing all the media options, and the savvier among the bureaucrats and ministers often are quick to embrace social media irrespective of their age.

Being Media Savvy Makes All the Difference

The phrase media savvy is often used to describe someone who is quick and alert to changing media trends and for all aspiring professionals and indeed, those already in their careers to be alert to future shifts in media dissemination and consumption, our advice is to remember that as technology accelerates, even the Millennials can look old-fashioned as Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality media can make even Facebook and Twitter relics of the past. In other words, as the fastest becomes the predator and the slowest becomes the prey in the jungle, the most adaptive and the agilest of you would be able to navigate the present as well as be ready for the future.


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