Roy Takeno reading paper in front of office (LOC)

Roy Takeno reading paper in front of office (LOC); Adams, Ansel, photographer. (Library of Congress)

Last week Canadian television journalist Kai Nagata quit his job and blogged about why. It’s a long read, and worth it.

I enjoyed his post a lot, both as someone prone to quitting jobs, and as someone keen to see principled people speak up about how their chosen industry could do better.

This morning, CBC radio show The Current had Nagata on as a guest, and he’s as articulate and clear-headed while speaking as he is in writing.

The Current also played reactions to Nagata’s blog post from other Canadian journalists. Many of them seemed very critical of him for reasons I find baffling. I don’t understand why people take his quitting personally when Nagata did an outstanding job of not ranting or blaming or name-calling as he criticized the formulaic, entertainment-focused, ratings-enslaved system of television news.

Lots of journalists seemed put out by the fact that Nagata is 24 years old. They say that if he’d stuck around longer, he’d X, Y or Z.

Look, I’ve been there. Every damn job I’ve had I’ve been the young precocious one, rapidly taking on more responsibility and expectation. And with every damn job I’ve quickly come up against frustrations. Big frustrations. And just because other people don’t find the same things frustrating, or just because some choose to repress their frustration so they can get their job done, doesn’t mean my decision to act on my frustration is wrong, counter-productive, immature or impulsive.

People seem inclined to want other people to have the same experience they had. If they worked slavishly for thirty years to accomplish what they accomplished, then it’s somehow not fair or not right or not real or not deserved if someone accomplishes something similar in a far shorter period of time. That’s short-sighted, selfish bullshit.

The reason I’m unemployable is that I’m unhappy working in someone else’s organization. I think too fast and I’m too uncomfortable compromising some of my immoveable principles. I have a very hard time accepting a refusal to change or experiment when I think that change or experimentation will be productive.

It’s not immature of me to say these things. It’s the result of quitting enough jobs to have developed a very productive level of self-awareness.

Some of us aren’t wired to effect change from within. Some of us are wired to learn as much as we can while we enjoy it, and to let that learning stew until we’re ready to apply it to something else.

I’m sure I’m projecting far too much of my own experience and desires onto Kai Nagata’s story, but I don’t care. He’s done the television news industry a solid by telling his story, and he’s done the consumers of television news a solid. I very much hope he’s set himself up to continue shaking things up. I hope he finds tremendous opportunities to create an outlet for journalism that adheres to his strict standards.

It seems to me that Kai Nagata is the future of something. I’m excited to see what that something is.