By Alok Verma

The Economic Times carried a story about #Google bringing global trendsetter in workplace design in India, too. Its new office in Gurgaon, with a Taj Mahal-like reception area, boasts of a mini golf course, a cricket pitch, napping pods and, yes, a railway coach. Google’s Hyderabad office has the same philosophy of making workplace look like a fun place. And, its just not Google, #Linkedin, #Expedia, #Yahoo etc are also part of ongoing workplace revolution. I recently read a survey report of the Medill School of Journalism, North Western University where most young journalists surveyed dubbed existing ‘newsrooms’ as drab and find them as less inhospitable.

Although most of the young reporters, copy editors, photographers, artists, editors and designers in this study said they were motivated to enter the profession for many of the same reasons as their predecessors — to put their creative skills to the test, and to engage in work that is more exciting and less routine than some lines of work — they do not seem to regard #journalism as a calling. Money and advancement opportunities are paramount to these people, and they are not willing to sublimate those needs to romantic notions of being society’s watchdog or a protector of democracy.

I think #Indiamediaowners and #Indianeditors will have to start introspecting sooner than later about the prevailing culture in the newsrooms. The new generation of journalists are here-today, gone-tomorrow job-hoppers of the highest order. And, given their limited emotional investment in their jobs, they have extraordinary goals and expectations. It is important to understand the Gen X not only in order to establish a more acceptable coexistence, but also to prepare adequately for a future in which these people will, in many ways, be calling the shots. They have sprung from a different culture and they are living in an entirely different world of challenge and opportunity.

They want to work at jobs that are fulfilling, that allow them to use and
broaden the skills they have, and all things being equal, they would like to feel they are somehow contributing to a greater good. But work is work, not a lifestyle, and they do not intend to put in hours for which they are not adequately remunerated; they believe in working to live, not vice versa; and they see career as an ever-changing cascade of work options, not a linear continuum along which one moves throughout his or her entire work life.

To begin with #HRManagers from Google, Yahoo, Linkedin need to be hired by the media owners who can think differently to make ‘newsrooms’ more hospitable for nurturing, promoting, attracting and retaining deserving talent for new scale of journalism.

But how do you change the mindset? It is a process.  Google did change the mindset by breaking away from the traditional office set up and its working environment by focusing more on people within and then making technology their child’s play to win the people outside. In my view the very change in format itself placed Google in a very different trajectory which was open, collaborative and unshackled. This led to a paradigm shift in the work culture and also the mindset. Now most organizations are working towards the same objective. One can feel the change in formats the way health, hospitality and education sectors are transforming. Similarly, why should newsrooms/studios be look alike except for colour and graphics? When I mentioned Google designer office I very strongly feel that such kind of designs that are more suitable to news content can be new formats which may bring change in the mindset to loosen up news. I find current formats as stiff and therefore the selection of content is also very stiff. This doesn’t give space for collaborative approach within the newsroom and of course with the audience outside. Here, my views are particularly limited to news television.

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