Representation article Step One: Plan of attack!!

By Bridget Murphy 5062047

Q: Briefly indicate the general subject area of the items you plan to cover and indicate, as best you can at this stage, what sorts of conclusions you anticipate you will be reaching with respect to this data. If you anticipate you will be focussing on just a few items – i.e. four or fewer, provide links if possible to this material and very briefly describe their content.

I am planning to continue with the same general topic area as article one, that being issues relating to the Generations. Specifically, I am going to look at how Generation Y and Z are represented in the media.

I am planning on discussing Triple J as the ‘voice of the youth’ or the national youth broadcaster and how they operate in terms of targeting Gen Y and Z so well by projecting the interests of the youth and “siding” with the youth on many issues.

One item I will concentrate on specifically is the Triple J HACK program, and snippets from their feature investigation “The War On Young People”, which provided a young person’s response to issues such as why young people can’t afford houses, why young people are so passionate about climate change and other key socio-political issues.

In terms of other articles to compare and contrast with the aforementioned ideas, I am looking for a range of articles from different publications that target various demographics (I feel that concentrating on social class as well as generational age is important to this discussion) and how they discuss the youth. I am considering delving a little further back into some archived articles to possibly see whether or not some of the negative idea’s of the contemporary youth have travelled over time. For example, say if an article published in 1989 called the youth of the day ‘lazy and entitled’ in the same way that article’s published in 2016 have. A possible discussion on whether this is influenced by engrained social ideas of ‘age = wisdom’ may ensue.

Also, after completing the tutorial preparation for this week (wk 12), I found the idea of collecting ‘research’ of sorts to weave into my article in order to gain some sort of reactionary detail. As my focus area is regarding the generations, and specifically how GenY and Z are represented, it would be quite easy to gather this as I can easily ask the opinions and reactions of my friends (and compare this with my own interpretations), and contrast this with the opinions of my parents or even my grandparents. This is just a thought, but I think it would be interesting to discuss.

The Media and the Millennial: A Sea of Standpoints and The Showdown of the Generation(s).

My name is Bridget and I am a Millennial.

I was born in 1997, placing me toward the end of my generation, which is generally thought to be comprised of those born between the late 80’s and the mid to late 90’s. We are the generation that grew to consciousness around the turn of the millennium, and were raised through an absolute roller coaster of a time period. The early parts of the twenty-first Century, as you may recall, saw massive technological and social change, but it also saw massive downfalls for humanity, including the Global Financial Crisis (GFC), the massive media coverage on religious-based conflict after the “war on terror” was declared by America following the heartbreak of 9/11 and the intensification of the feminist movement into a modern chapter. These points have shaped how we were raised and who we have become. Now that the entirety of millennials, or Generation Y as they’re also called, are bonafide adults, we have become a part of a hotly argued debate that is unfolding between ourselves and our mother generation, The baby boomers:

Are we lazy and entitled… or not?

Throughout different historical periods, looking at the media is a sure-fire way to understanding the mindsets of different people in relation to an issue. Therefore, looking at examples of arguments detailed in the media during our growth into adulthood allows us to uncover different views in regard to the baby boomer versus Generation Y entitlement debate.

Ron Alsop, writing for the Wall Street Journal back in 2008, published an adapted excerpt of his novel, affectionately titled “The Trophy Kids Grow Up: How the Millennial Generation Is Shaking Up The Workplace” which aimed to discuss the issue of youth entitlement that was greeting many corporate employers around the time of the GFC. The excerpted article, “The Trophy Kids Go To Work”, primarily focuses on the idea that millennial employees are difficult to work with in the traditional workplace environment. Alsop argues this primary claim by offering reason upon reason as to why millennials are a pain in an office workplace and, ultimately, offers an evaluative argument that Generation Y have been raised to be entitled.

First of all, Alsop believes that Gen Y expect too much when entering a career, as our sense of entitlement is an “ingrained trait”.
Our demands for attention from supervisors and bosses, the overwhelming need for guidance from others and our need to have things “spelled out clearly” are the primary reasons Alsop believes we are difficult to work with. He backs up these evaluative arguments by quoting experts who deal with millennial workers, such as Subha Barry, a managing director and head of global diversity and inclusion at Merrill Lynch and Co.

“The millennials were raised with so much affirmation and positive reinforcement that they come into the workplace needy for more,” Barry argues.

Secondly, he argues that millennials are far too noncommittal when it comes to work in the modern, fast-paced world.
Alsop characterises millennials as “picky” and states that “companies shouldn’t expect much loyalty return” from Gen Y employees. Alsop’s article is littered with emotive adjectives such as “picky”, which allows him to convey his discontent and negative view toward entitled young workers.
Alsop supports this claim through the inclusion of factual statistic. He references a study undertaken my Michigan State, which notes that “about two-thirds of millennials said they would likely ‘surf’ from one job to the next” and that “about 44% showed their lack of loyalty” in saying that they would leave their job to pursue a better opportunity elsewhere.

Also, Alsop recognises that Gen Y’s parents, likely the baby boomers for majority of the generation, have played a massive part in how their children have turned out, and are to blame for their adult children’s entitled and self-centred traits.

“…the generational tension is a bit ironic. After all, the grumbling baby-boomer managers are the same indulgent parents who produced the millennial generation.”

This, in a way, is the acknowledgement of an opposing viewpoint, and Alsop quotes Subha Barry again to include her belief that older workers should treat millennial workers with respect despite their issues. However, this acknowledgement is quoted toward the end of the article. A reader who agrees with Alsop’s primary claim would likely be far too persuaded to see reason in the opposing viewpoint.

These arguments put forth by Alsop are warranted by his underlying belief that millennials are entitled in comparison to the baby boomers.

Alsop presents his argument to an audience who are likely to agree with his standpoint, and his underlying belief. His excerpt was published in the Wall Street Journal, which is a right-wing publication controlled by Rupert Murdoch’s conservative empire News Corp. Their readership is largely made up of upper-middle class and upper class readers who work in sectors such as Finance, Business, Politics and Law; therefore their content, obviously, is geared toward this type of person. It is likely that the disgruntled CEO or the frustrated multinational company recruiter that Alsop sympathises with in the article is an avid reader of the Wall Street Journal, and it is likely that they would appreciate what Alsop has to say about the difficulty in hiring a young recruit. In this sense, the article serves as a perfect example of how views-driven Journalism is often constructed and purposefully published in a way that attracts like-minded readers in order to reinforce the agenda of the writer.

It is important to note that there are some issues with the logicality of Alsop’s overriding claim that millennial workers are difficult to work with. Primarily, grouping all young people together under their umbrella term of “millennial” and thus characterising all young people as difficult to work with is an evaluative presumption and possibly contributes to a very hasty generalisation of the people who constitute Generation Y.

In 2014, Taylor Tepper published “Why Millennials Aren’t Lazy, Spoiled or Entitled…At least not more than other generations are.” on TIME magazine’s finance-focused publication MONEY. Tepper, who identifies himself as a millennial in the opening pars of his article, argues a starkly opposing viewpoint to Alsop’s belief that Generation Y are shoddy workers because of our ingrained entitlement. As a voice of the generation, Tepper explains his belief that millennials have had it just as tough as the generations before them, and that we often have to work harder to achieve anything that involves money in our lives. For Tepper, we are worse off than our mother generation, the Baby Boomers, and our older brother, Generation X.

Tepper structures his argument quite simply, by explaining his justifications in clearly identified points. He makes his first point, that millennials “grew up during the Great Recession”, and argues that due to this the early millennials “graduated college in the teeth of the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression”. He notes that, albeit all generations felt the burn of the GFC, “Millennials were a little more vulnerable — if not economically, then psychologically — than other groups.” Tepper supports this causal argument in the same way that Alsop supported his first justification: through quoting an expert and facts.

“While the unemployment rate for those over 34 peaked at about 8%, the unemployment rate among those between the ages of 18 and 34 peaked at 14% in 2010 and remains elevated, despite substantial improvement.”

The above point made by the chairman of the White House’s Council of Economic Advisers Jason Furman, supports Tepper’s argument that the GFC has played a massive part in making the working world tougher for millennials.

“Millennials are the first in the modern era to have higher levels of debt, poverty and unemployment, and lower levels of wealth and personal income than their two immediate predecessor generations had at the same time.”

Tepper reinforces his argument my referencing a Pew Research Centre survey conducted in 2014, solidifying his claim and promoting it strongly to a reader.

His second point, that millennials pay more to raise their children than the baby boomers did, is made in order to highlight the rate of inflation and economic disparity that is evident when placing the generations side by side. Again, quoting factual research authority Pew, he notes:

“If you had kids in 1985, and the mother of those kids worked, you paid on average $87 (in 2013 dollars) a week in child-care expenses, according to Pew. In 2010, the figure grew to $148. That means, on average, working mothers today pay over $3,000 more a year on child care than their mothers paid for them.”

He makes this point not only to illustrate how millennial parents are worse off than their parents, but also to gravitate an emotional reaction from people of his own generation. By highlighting these disparities and starkly contrasting them, Tepper would evoke a sense of envy or perhaps even anger in younger readers. This assists him in gaining support for his view.

It is worth mentioning that TIME magazine, the parent publication for MONEY magazine, is a centre (that being either left wing nor right wing) publication that attracts readers from a primarily middle class background, but publishes material that can be of interest to a lower class reader or an upper class reader. Due to this, Tepper’s argument, unlike Alsop’s can be seen as an attempt to persuade a reader that may oppose his viewpoints. Evident through his extensive factual and authoritative justificatory support for his primary claim, it can be seen that Tepper is trying to convince readers that millennials do, in fact, have it worse than our predecessors.

Also, Tepper makes an effort at shifting the blame game between millennials and baby boomers.

“You Are More Entitled Than We Are,” he argues as his final justification.

Tepper attempts to justify this point by detailing the differences in retirement benefits from people who retired in 1939 and people who retired in 2010, showcasing the massive difference between what they paid in taxes and how much they would receive in benefits after leaving the work force. However, this point seems a bit of a hasty generalisation and an instance of a circular argument. Arguing that ‘millennials aren’t entitled because baby boomers are entitled’ is a bit ill-informed and does not make a good case in terms of persuading an opposing audience to agree with his claim.

Tepper’s final effort in arguing his claim comes in the form of a direct appeal to the opposing viewpoint.

“So when you think about Millennials in terms of living at home and deifying self-aggrandizing behavior, remember the economic hardships that we endured and you didn’t.”

Again, like the argument before, this can be seen as a hasty generalisation. The baby boomer’s were raised by those who fought in the World Wars and lived through the Great Depression, and in their youth many of them were shipped off to places like Vietnam. This direct effort in order to persuade the disagreeing reader would have likely had the opposite affect due to the generalisation made by Tepper.

Ultimately, through looking at two pieces of media from two opposing view points, it is apparent to me that a person’s context as an individual but also as an author comes into play in terms of how they structure their argument. The fact that Alsop is a baby boomer himself (Google his name) and writes for a right-wing, upper-class publication such as the Wall Street Journal obviously informs his view that young workers are entitled and hard to work with. Conversely, Tepper’s argument, that millennials have it worse off in the workforce and in their financial lives because baby boomers are more entitled than Gen Y is, is based upon the fact that he is a millennial and is writing for a more diverse audience who can either agree with him or try to be convinced by his claims. However one thing is overwhelmingly clear in investigating the media on the issue of generational disparity:

Who is actually entitled?

References:

Alsop, R. (2008) The ‘Trophy Kids’ Go To Work, Wall Street Journal. 21 October 2008, available at  http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB122455219391652725 (accessed 21 August 2016).

Tepper, T. (2014) Why Millennials Aren’t Lazy, Spoiled or Entitled… 11 August 2014, available at http://time.com/money/3094008/millennials-spoiled-boomers/ (accessed 21 August 2016).

The Trophy Kids (2009) About the Author, available at: http://www.thetrophykids.com/ (accessed 3 Sep 2016).