Tuesday, March 9, 2010


On March 4, CNBC premiered a two-hour documentary called, "TOM BROKAW REPORTS: BOOMER$." While it was marketed as a landmark telling of “history’s wealthiest and most influential generation,” many felt it missed the mark. Here are some of the most common sentiments recently expressed in the blogosphere:

  • The fact that the Boomer generation is the richest in history (3/4 of Fortune 500 CEOs are Boomers) contradicts the economic realities facing most Boomers during this current recession
  • Brokaw’s claim that Boomers haven’t realized the changes they promised to the world negates the progress they’ve made through civil, women’s and environmental movements
  • While the recession’s impact on this cohort is significant, it pales in comparison to the emotional and economic burdens facing Boomers as they care for their own aging parents

To summarize any generation in a 2-hour segment is overly ambitious, but the flurry of passionate commentary the show generated highlights the power Boomers have in our society. The Baby Boomer generation will continue to drive economic, social, political and workplace agendas for years to come. It will be important for members of every generation to have an informed opinion.

BOOMER$ will be airing several more times this month. For more information visit http://classic.cnbc.com/id/34840866/.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting blog, Amy. I felt like Brokaw’s Boomer$ was an embarrassing failure for CNBC. By ignoring the growing consensus among actual experts that there were two distinct generations born in the post-WWII boom in births, the show was a mess of confusion and inaccuracy.

    Most people born 1946-1964 (which the show defines as the Baby Boom Generation) who watched this show would not have related to it. This is because practically the whole show described those born in the first half of that period (the real Boomer Generation) while almost completely ignoring those born in the second half (Generation Jones). And far more babies were born during the GenJones years, which makes the fundamental idiocy of this show that much more pronounced.

    The images of childhood presented were almost all those of the real Boomers: Coonskin hats, hula hoops, Howdy Doody, school bomb drills, ovaltine, etc., etc. Most Jonesers weren’t even born then. Where was the Brady Bunch and Partridge Family, Easy Bake Ovens and Beany Coptors, etc. etc. which Jonesers grew up with? The teen/young adult years presented were those of the real Boomers: Vietnam and anti-war protests, Woodstock and hippy counterculture. But Jonesers were just little kids then, not a part of any of that. Where were GenJones teen cultural touchstones like disco and heavy metal, Farah Fawcett and David Cassidy posters?

    The show was filled with contradictions. It referred to Obama as a Boomer. But this was the same network that kept talking about the generational change at last year’s Inaugural. So the Boomers were passing the generational torch to the…Boomers?! The show repeatedly stated that the Boomers were the offspring of the Greatest (WWII) Generation. Does that mean the Silent Generation (between the WWII Gen and Boomers) didn’t have any children? In reality, most Jonesers were born to Silent Gen parents. This is one of many reasons why Jonesers are so different than Boomers, since experts emphzsize the big contrast between the Silent gen vs. the WWII Gen and parental influences are so crucial to the formation of generational personalities.

    For our entire life cycle, we Jonesers have been mistakenly lumped in with the Boomers (and blamed for their excesses), while getting very few of the benefits. We are not Boomers. Every national poll on this question confirms that we don’t believe we are Boomers. Mountains of data confirm the clear differences in values, attitudes, etc. between Boomers and Jonesers. Most actual experts believe GenJones exists. Yet, CNBC ignores this and puts out this show using that old widely-discredited 1946-1964 Boomer definition.

    Generations are a function of the common formative experiences of its members, not the fertility rates of its parents. There was a demographic baby boom 1946-1964, but the Boomer Generation was born around 1942-1953, while GenJones was born around 1954-1965. This is what actual experts say, as opposed to clueless media companies who don’t bother to research current expert opinion.

    Thankfully, many in the media have paid attention to the experts, and GenJones has been getting lots of media attention. Many major mainstream media companies now use the term; in fact, the Associated Press' annual Trend Report chose the Rise of Generation Jones as the #1 trend of 2009. We Jonesers need to help spread awareness about our long-lost generation to help avoid the imbecility of shows like Brokaw’s Boomer$.

    Here are some of the good links about GenJones I found: