josh rosner

Archive for October, 2011|Monthly archive page

THE TROUBLE WITH Y

In Australian Culture and Society on October 19, 2011 at 5:58 am

As an academic who spends much of his time teaching, I frequently encounter those young people labeled Gen-Y. Although the occasional Gen-Xer, and the rare Baby Boomer, sneak into my classes, it is overwhelmingly Gen-Y who dominate the two units I teach – a first year unit in Semester 1 and a third year unit in Semester 2.

There seems to be little agreement on the start and end dates for Gen-Y. Some suggest it begins in mid-1970s and others go as far as 2000. I’d suggest it’s about attitude, rather than birth date, but either way mid-1970s doesn’t seem to fit. I’m more inclined towards a later date than earlier. So, mid-1970s is clearly Gen-X, but for the purposes of this article, I’d put the big bang for Gen-Y at 1990 and onwards.

Regardless, I’m suggesting Gen-Y, who are beginning to enter the workforce and who will over the coming decade enter positions of leadership in business, government and society, have a myriad of unresolved issues which are likely to create havoc in the future.

There’s little point trying to suggest Gen-Y are stupid. Silly, perhaps, but certainly not stupid. They have been offered educational opportunities like never before. And mostly, they have embraced them. Like no generation that has come before them, Gen-Y has been pampered and considerably free of real financial responsibility. I was in my 20s before I began my first proper employment. I chose education first. I didn’t have a part-time job during high school, although many of my friends did. They had a newspaper run or a milk run (milk was once delivered to your door!), whereas Gen-Y work at McDonalds or in retail in large malls.

Gen-Y has been nurtured and programmed since they were toddlers with a never-ending stream of educational activities. Employers are discovering that means they are high-performers. It also means they are high-maintenance. But it has given them an inflated sense of their own worth in the employment marketplace.

It may simply be a generation thing – what generation can claim to truly understand the one that came before it? – but Gen-Y is a difficult group to connect with and by my own experience, difficult to try get to know and even be friends with.

It’s not all bad for Gen-Y; far from it. If I was to list those attributes which are sure to serve them well in the future, they would include, but are certainly not limited to:

They have financial smarts. They seem attuned to the financial insecurity that beset generations before them; particularly baby boomers. They like to spend money – which may be true of each generation as it reaches an age of financial independence – but they also seem to understand the value of a dollar earned.

Work-life balance isn’t just a buzz word. Gen-Y is often accused of being lazy – and by my own experiences in academia, they are – but they also tend to recognise the importance of a work-life balance. Unlike boomer who placed a high priority on their careers, Gen-Y tend to fit their employment around their family and social life.So, they want jobs that have flexible work hours, where technology can be utilised (i.e. telecommuting).

Change is good. Gen-Y has no expectations that they will stay in one job for any lengthy period of time. In fact, they tend not to even see themselves settling into one career for too long. They seem to be skeptical of employee loyalty. They are also a generation of multi-taskers who can juggle email on their iPhones while taking a call and trolling online. They tend not to like being forced to engage on one task for very long.

The great thing is that anyone who figures out how to market to Gen-Y and capture their easily diverted attention are sure to succeed. Those who can’t will undoubtedly be threatened by Gen-Y.

On the downside, Gen-Y are more self-centered, more disrespectful of authority and more depressed than ever before.

They don’t always know what they want, but when they do figure it out, they formulate a plan to get it. But in the process, they really aren’t very nice people to know.

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CAN WIKILEAKS SAVE JOURNALISM AND DEMOCRACY?

In Australian Culture and Society, Journalism on October 7, 2011 at 8:19 am

In December 2010 I gave an academic paper to the Journalism Education Association of Australia (JEAA) Conference at UTS, Sydney. Although it has taken almost a year (with some drama that resulted in me withdrawing it during the peer-review process from a different journal before offering it to the one that published it) I’m pleased to see it finally published. Particularly given some of the issues I tackle are starting to get ‘old news’. Any feedback or commentary is most welcome.

The link my article in Global Media Journal is here.

MY PROBLEM WITH GILLARD (AND LABOR)

In Australian Politics on October 6, 2011 at 7:15 am

I recently had dinner with two really good friends. They are both federal Labor staffers, working for particularly well-known ministers. They are, it is fair to say, die-hard, to-the-death, ‘true believer’ Labor supporters – and have been since they were young enough for politics to enter their consciousness. Nothing wrong with political conviction. I wish more Australians would take an interest in politics and develop greater political awareness.

This dinner started, as it always does when we get together, with a convivial atmosphere. But before main courses were finished, it descended – as it almost always does – into a political discussion. This time, it centred around the performance of the Gillard Government, and the Rudd Government before it.

I’m on record as consistently criticising both Rudd and Gillard, albeit for different reasons. With Rudd, my problem was his propensity to micro-manage everything to such a degree that it was only a matter of time before mistakes were made, public funds were wasted and poor policy decisions were made. That, as history now records, became the reality.

I was attending a function at Parliament House (Senator Nick Sherry – who I used to work for when Labor were in opposition – was celebrating his 20th anniversary in the Senate) barely 4 or 5 metres from the Prime Minister’s office on what became Rudd’s last night as PM. I’d been at the gathering perhaps 30 minutes before Rudd came in and gave one of those silly semi-private speeches he liked to do. Afterwards, he left, returning to his office. I left shortly thereafter, as a cacophony of ministerial and staffer Blackberry’s started to beep and vibrate. So long out of the game was I, I didn’t stop to question why. Passing Rudd’s office – with Faulkner and Gillard behind me (although I didn’t know this at the time…I only realised later when footage was shown on TV) – I saw a phalanx of press gallery journalists, cameras and audio equipment at the ready. Again, I didn’t think anything of it. It was only later – about 20 minutes later – as I was in the car driving home that a text message came from a staffer – one of my friends at the dinner I mentioned earlier, exclaiming that ‘it was on’ (political parlance for a leadership spill).

My invite to Senator Nick Sherry's function at APH on Rudd's last night as PM

By a strange twist of fate, Senator Sherry’s 20th anniversary function was to also be Kevin Rudd’s last evening as PM. I, like many people I know, was outraged that Gillard had the chutzpah to take the leadership from Rudd the way she did. If there is such as thing as Australian-ness (and I doubt there is) then Gillard’s behaviour was quintessentially unAustralian. But therein lies my dilemma. I hated Rudd. He was a bad prime minister. But I also detest the idea of a sitting prime minister being replaced at the behest of his or her party and the unions which control it. It’s a dirty remnant of the Westminster system we inherited from the Mother Country, but it really should have no place in our version of democracy.

Back to my dinner with two Labor staffer friends. Our conversation, and their criticism of me, was about Gillard, not Rudd. I’m a serial Facebook poster. I update my Facebook status many times a day (and cross-post to Twitter) and frequently it is to criticise Labor. At least, as I see it, the criticism is of Labor. One of my friends at dinner suggested my commentaries (in the form of Facebook status updates) were more attacks on Gillard, specifically, than criticisms of Labor, in general. I’ve re-read my postings to Facebook and although I refute the assertion, I’m content to live with it.

The thing with Gillard, you see, is for me it is personal. Way back when I worked for Labor in opposition (when I was still a member of the Labor Party), I met Gillard on a number of occasions. I’ve conversed with her. I’ve drunk beer with her. (Okay, to be fair, only I was doing the drinking). I’ve attended office parties she has organised. We’re not bosom buddies and she wouldn’t remember me, but the point is, I liked her and I particularly liked her left-wing credentials.

But once she became PM, something happened. Something bad. The kind of nightmare it takes the country a long time to wake and recover from.

My problem with Gillard is three-fold:

1. She did a shitty thing stabbing Rudd in the back and even if she had turned out to be the greatest thing that had happened to this country (which is so far from reality it is laughable!) my view wouldn’t change. What she did was wrong. It’s that black and white for me.

2. She sold out her left-wing credentials and, miraculously, became a right-wing sensation over night. The country stood a real chance of reform under a left-wing prime minister, but instead she caved to special interest, a right-wing controlled caucus and some right-wing union thugs who need a little of their own medicine in return.

3. She lives in a mighty fine house, located in a prime Canberra suburb only a stone’s throw from Parliament House, with a staff and a driver – and it’s all paid for by my not inconsiderable tax dollars – and she does so with an unemployed bloke she’s not married to – but then she has the hide…I mean, the biggest hide of all, to tell me…ME, that my 10 year relationship is something less than hers, something not as worthy of formal recognition as hers, and…here’s what really rubs me the wrong way…something that has not been ordained by God! By God, of all made-up creatures!!!

So, indeed, I won’t deny or shy away from accusations that my attacks on Labor are really personal attacks on the PM. Not at all. She is a bad prime minister. She’s worse than Rudd, and until she came along I couldn’t have imagined such a scenario is possible.

I hope the day comes when my values, and Labor Party values, are once again in alignment. Maybe the Labor Party is on a course of change that is taking it away from me forever. I hope not. I hope one day that I can rejoin the Labor Party. That day will never be while Gillard is leader.

Some things I am very certain of. I will not, under any circumstances, cease my criticisms of Labor, Gillard and the government she leads when it makes decisions that warrant criticism. I’ll continue to do so, even if it costs me the friendship of my two staffer friends. I’m also certain – more certain, perhaps, than of anything else in my life – that Labor in government since 2007 has been a miserable, wretched failure and I can’t recall ever being so disillusioned, so shattered, so utterly bereft and so totally disappointed in a political party I was once a member of and spent many years working for, as I am with the Australian Labor Party.

I’m continually told to consider the alternative. I have. I do every day. Do I want Tony Abbott to be prime minister? Of course not – although I am on record as suggesting he wouldn’t be as bad as many belief he might. But the thought of a ultra-conservative Catholic running the country is not my ideal scenario for Australia. So I’m told, Labor is better than the alternative. Are they? Really? Because Abbott scares the shit out of everyone, Gillard’s incompetence is still a better solution? I don’t and won’t see it that way. I won’t vote Labor at the next election because the alternative is too horrifying. I can’t do it.

Here’s a reality check. If Tony Abbott remains leader of the Liberal Party, he will be PM. That’s the stark reality Labor has created for this country. I can’t envisage any scenario in which Labor is capable of changing that. So faced with such a dismal reality, and faced with my inability to vote for Labor, I’m left with only a few options. None are ideal.

I could vote for the Greens. I could vote for an Independent candidate. I could vote for alternate parties.candidates in the House of Representatives to the Senate. I could not vote at all – or at least, only get my name ticked off.

I will reassess my position closer to the next election, but were the election called for this coming Saturday, I would vote as follows:

Senate: Green (I live in the ACT, where we only have two senators who must seek re-election at each federal election, unlike the States, and where it is incredibly hard for a Green candidate to break the one Labor Senator, one Liberal Senator monopoly). I’m more comfortable with preferences flowing to Labor should the Green candidate not win.

House of Reps: The Latham Gambit (also known as the ‘donkey vote’).

I hope things change. I know they won’t. When Labor loses the next election, as it inevitably will, I won’t take joy from it. I won’t whoop for joy. I won’t say I told you so. Not to a single soul. But I will, quietly, lament the final passing of a political party I once loved and gave my all to (besides working for various pollies as a spin-doctor and speechwriter, I have been both president and secretary of my local Labor Party sub-branch of North Canberra) and I will feel little else than sadness that Labor failed me; failed us all.

One day, I hope my Labor friends come to see it as well.