Anita Zielina: “The talent war is happening”

The Director of Innovation and Leadership at the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism/CUNY warns the media that they need to be more attractive if they want to capture and retain the talents needed for their digital transformation process.

by Daniela Pena | March 16, 2021

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“Sometimes, as media organizations, we think that there is a natural tendency for people to want to work in our newsrooms, as developers, designers, and tech experts. But when we want to hire these people, we discover that they can work anywhere: in the automobile industry, in digital marketing agencies, at Google, at Facebook,” Anita Zielina told the audience of the fourth session of the Cultural Change Ignition Program organized by WAN-lFRA and the Facebook Journalism Project.

The session headed by Zielina focused on how to train staff to deal with the digital transformation and how to attract and retain talents. “We are in a competition with other industries that may have done a better job of being attractive to their employees, creating spaces for them to develop and grow,” Zielina guaranteed, and added: “The talent war is happening now.”

Anita Zielina, who has headed several newsrooms and provided consultancy to others, admits that young people do not generally feel attracted to the traditional media. “Young digital talents in their twenties and thirties want different things for their lives and their jobs. The traditional media do not coincide with what they believe a job should be. And that’s an issue, because they’re going to choose someplace else to work,” explained the journalist and consultant.

Meanwhile, Zelina recommends great caution when assembling teams to lead the digital transformation. The temptation to attract only outside people may drastically affect the organization’s culture: “If you bring all these people from outside to do the ‘cool digital thing’, the in-house people will feel that they aren’t part of the future, that the company is not wagering on them. And nobody wants that.” She thus recommends: “A combination of in-house and outside talent is super effective, because the risk of only bringing people from outside is that people who have already been there feel left out of the innovation and transformation.

As Zielina’s session addressed the issue of talent, the Cultural Change Ignition Program — held from October 2020 to January 2021 — covered other topics to reflect on and mobilize cultural change in the media today: data as drivers of the strategy, the relationship with audiences, and the organizational change. The other guest speakers also shared successful cases of digital transformation both inside and outside the news industry. In the coming weeks, WAN-IFRA will be publishing a report with the main lessons from the experts that led the Cultural Change Ignition Program.


Author: Andrea Schulte

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