Simon Dumenco, a columnist for Advertising Age, says a reason people may be rallying around Conan O’Brien is because his job predicament hits home for them:
He’s suddenly become an unlikely (Harvard-educated, multimillionaire) everyman: the freckled face of American job insecurity, a well-meaning hard worker who spent years paying his dues but has now been declared redundant by the halfwit overlords driving his company into the ground.
Nanette Byrnes goes a step further, suggesting that what’s happening to Conan is indicative of a broader issue – the devaluing of knowledge workers:
In a US economy based on knowledge workers, creativity, and in many ways entertainment, the talent that dreams up the ideas, the jokes, or the computer code, isn’t being treated very well.
Poll numbers support this argument. BusinessWeek asked readers if Conan’s refusal to leave his time slot is “admirable or evidence that he’s stuck in the past?” Of 106 respondents, 56% said “NBC has shown it doesn’t value him. When your bosses make that clear, it’s time to leave.” and 39% said “The Tonight Show starts after the news. Always has, always should.” Only 5% felt that Conan was stuck in the past.
It’s not a scientific poll, but when 95% of respondents feel strongly that some traditions should be valued and employees should leave when employers don’t reward loyalty, that’s a good indicator of sentiment these days.
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