Recessions, job loses and education

I’ve been writing this blog for about a year now  — more than 200 posts. And I was thinking about that while running this morning. First, this does give me — and others like me — and outlet to write and comment on subjects that we wouldn’t have otherwise. Jay Rosen made that point during a conference at Kent State earlier in the fall. It’s the switch in media thinking to where I can develop content — and all I need is to be able to find an audience.

Previously a media outlet had total access to the “audience” — and the media guys and gals decided if they would pass along my content. I expect that this question of reaching an audience yourself or relying on traditional is now facing PR staffs more regularly as they recommend blogs and other forms of new media to enhance or replace more traditional communication tactics.

You can write it — but will anyone come to read it? I’m glad I don’t have a job hinging on the answer to that question.

Second, I don’t receive many comments on my posts. But those that I do receive add to the discussion, provide additional information or insights and/or raise questions or alternate viewpoints that are well worth considering. That strikes me as something newspapers, magazines, online aggregators — Huffington Post, etc. — haven’t really taken advantage of yet. The comments on most of those venues still strike me as essentially one-way postings. If writers/editors can figure out a way to expand those postings and comments into thoughtful discussions in big forums — The New York Times, for instance — then you’ll see a big change in journalism. And maybe journalists become discussion and thought leaders in addition to content providers — with others contributing to the story, give and take.

Anyway, what got me thinking about this was a comment I received from Tim Roberts, a friend and someone who I have gotten to know as a fellow faculty member at Kent State. Tim has a career background similar to mine spanning journalism, corporate public relations and education. I wrote yesterday about what people needed to consider if they lost their job. Tim added that it was important for people to update and enhance their skills. And that is absolutely correct — and a valuable addition to my points. I’m looking a lot at education issues these days — and there is a great need (but as usual not much funding) for life-long learning. And in these days of recession, education could well be the key to unlocking a job opportunity.

We’re in a tough recession now — one that isn’t going to end quickly or without some additional pain. The Wall Street Journal reported this morning (by subscription only) that companies announced just this week that they were cutting at least 33,000 more jobs — with big names like AT&T, DuPont and Avis getting into it now. And in total, the U.S. economy has lost 1.2 million jobs this year.

These workers are going to need some help — and maybe some luck — in finding new jobs. And in the meantime, Tim’s right: Many will need to return to the classroom to upgrade skills. I don’t know whether universities like Kent State have programs or resources to accommodate people who may quickly need to enhance skills or develop new ones. That may fall to the community colleges — like Cuyahoga Community College in Cleveland — that appear to be focusing more and more on both adult learners and at-risk young people. In any event, education at all levels is a way out of this mess — individually and as a nation.

And since I am writing about the recession and the economic meltdown facing us — caused in my view to a large extent by the ineptness of the Bush administration and the greed of the financial industry and mortgage brokers — I couldn’t let this item pass by.

It appears that Mr. and Mrs. W. have purchased a house in an exclusive and pricey area of Dallas. The Associated Press article doesn’t give a price — but says one home in the neighborhood is in the $32 million range. OK. Let’s assume that W. isn’t buying a “handyman special.”

Now here’s the rub. The article points out:

“The president is buying his post-White House home at a time of falling real estate prices and lowered mortgage interest rates.”

Yikes. Wonder who caused that? Oh, well. Timing is everything.

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2 responses to “Recessions, job loses and education

  1. Good points. As a mid-career journalist (job is very secure, thank you very much), I have wrestled with how to stay ahead of the technology/change curve in my profession. And I absolutely think Kent’s j-school should lead the charge, not relegate the task to a community college. If the university wants to be among the state’s top journalism training institutions, then be it. For all ages, at all points in the career. Run a short course, run a seminar, run an online course. Kent has the technology, the expertise, the human intellect to do it. Don’t abdicate this opportunity. It could benefit the university long-term in terms of networking, philanthropy, good will, employers for undergrads, etc. Sign me up!

    • Susan — Thanks for your comments. And you really do raise good points about Kent State (and other universities) taking the lead here. It is an opportunity for the university — and for those who want and need to take classes. I am going to follow-up on this to see what resources are available. And I’m delighted to know your job is very secure. That’s the way it should be.

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