Don’t get left in the dark

As media professionals age, we face the technological equivalent of getting a face-lift in Hollywood. As the world advances, if we don’t keep up, we’ll either become dusty fossils like Clint Eastwood or, worse, deformed monsters like Joan Rivers. My coworkers talk about an era before desktop publishing, where they had to forge type out of steel, in a damp cellar by candle light. Okay, okay, while I may be exaggerating, their stories of manually cutting and pasting graphics sounds about as much fun as attending a caveman dinner party, at least to my millennial mentality.

Celebrate the past without being scared of the future.

Recently, I was able to connect with Good Morning American producer Mellen O’Keefe, who has wrangled the world of broadcast media for decades. She remembers the days when cameras were too bulky to haul out into the field. She remembers producing segments where she had to manually cut and paste film, reel by reel. However, one of the things I loved about Mellen– even though she is a great storyteller, she doesn’t live in the past. Even as she pushed up her glasses to get a better look at the tiny buttons on an iPhone, her fingers moved with the dexterity of a 14-year-old. Intrigued by technology, she never shied away from learning more. She jokingly told me she has to run twice as fast to keep up with the 20-somethings in her industry, but the way I see it, they better keep an eye on her.

See, Mellen is the perfect example of finding balance between being Clint Eastwood and Joan Rivers. In our field, you have to know the new technology. Adore it, abhor it, it doesn’t matter. I meet these die hard newspaper-o-philes who treat online journalism like it’s an annoying 80s fad, but truthfully, it’s been the catalyst for the information revolution. I meet people who hate Facebook, but they are either Hipsters playing hard-to-get or grannies who can even work a TV remote. Everyone is on Facebook, whether you, or they, like it or not.

Yes, you are doomed to be a hipster or confused granny. That's it.
Yes, you are doomed to be a hipster or confused granny. That's it.

Sure, people scoffed at the telegraph or found typewriters to be the tool of the devil, but those were the folks who didn’t want to put in the effort to learn these newfangled contraptions. Not only will you be as dexterous as those 20-somethings when you’re Mellen’s age, but I guarantee your mind will thank you for training it to enjoy lifelong learning. Once we stop indulging in the rush of learning something new, we’ll never again create something unique.

My boyfriend hates on me all the time for my Instagram obsession. I get where he’s coming from, but in my field, life is constantly documented. I love writing, but part of storytelling in the 21st century requires words, photos, videos and web design to be done instantly. Utilizing these tools in my personal life keeps me well versed for my professional life.

Let’s face it, a 2-year-old can work an iPhone better than I can. I’ve got a lot of work ahead of me.

Here is a list of some of the resources to get you excited about innovation:

  • Need to keep up with social media trends? Try Mashable‘s great tips and techniques for beginners, experts and everyone in between.
  • Can’t figure out how to take video with an iPhone or use magnetic lasso tool in Photoshop? Get professional training on Lynda.com or search for free video tutorials on YouTube.
  • Understand your audience’s behavior through Google Analytics.
  • Bookmark your research and contacts on Diigo, which allows you to create custom sticky notes and highlight text right on the site. Best part? You can recall these pages on any computer.
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