From the searing heat of Los Angeles to temperate nights in Palo
Alto, from inner-city Los Angeles to posh Beverly Hills, and from
Mission Beach in San Diego to Evergreen Baptist Church in Irvine,
the Generation Next team traveled far and wide to spend time with
a mixture of young adults.
The journey began July 26 in Los Angeles, where Judy Woodruff
presented the Generation Next project as part of the televisions
critics tour. Four Generation Next segments are slated to run
on the NewsHour with Jim
Lehrer during the fall of 2006. Then, an hour-long documentary
will air on PBS in January 2007.
As Judy made the pitch to the media, the RV headed south to the
Orange County Fair, where, amidst an All American Rejects concert,
the kiosk interviews officially commenced with conversations about
"friends with benefits" and visiting tattoo parlors
On July 27, Judy sat down with a group of 16-to-17 year olds
for a focus group led by marketing expert Jane Buckingham. This
diverse group of young people discussed everything from MySpace
to sexuality to cheating in school.
That evening, the group stopped by Brendan Docherty and Genevieve
Sparling's house in Santa Monica. Both Gen Nexters are transplants
from the East Coast. They came to work in the video game industry
and writing, respectively. They've both succeeded; Genevieve works
for the television production, "Smallville," while Brendan
works for THQ, a video-game developer. Brendan and Genevieve were
joined by their friend, Dan Thomsen, who works in television.
The three friends told Judy about what it was like to move so
far away from home, how they stay in touch with their parents,
and how Sept. 11 impacted their life decisions.
"If there's anything I wanted to do with my life, [Sept.
11] kind of underscored that I should just try and do it and go
for broke, because who knows what's gonna happen tomorrow. And,
it did come out very cheesy. But it's ... it's how I felt and
here I am," Dan said.
The next day, July 28, began a mish-mash of assorted interviews
with two Gen Nexters: 24-year-old University of Southern California
Higaki and Leo Vasquez, a 22-year-old gang member and toilet
Lisa, a Japanese-American, works for Muse, an advertising agency
in Beverly Hills. We first went to Muse to observe Lisa at work.
Judy sat in on an intergenerational workplace meeting run by Jo
Muse, the company's founder. Jo has an assortment of Generation
X and Next employees at the firm. The group engaged in a spirited
back and forth about the differences between young workers and
their older bosses.
Later in the week, we caught Lisa in Pasadena, shopping with her
sister Lauren. Lisa and Lauren have grown increasingly close since
college. However, Lauren -- the "cooler" of the two
sisters -- just accepted a job in San Francisco. We spent a few
moments with Lauren as she moved out of her apartment, but spent
more time alone with Lisa, talking about her strong religious
convictions, her work at Muse, her relationship with her sister,
and what it's like to be Japanese-American. Our time with Lisa
concluded with us attending a retreat in Irvine with her "post-modern"
The other part of our Los Angeles equation was Leo
Vasquez, a gang member of Mexican descent who spent much of
his childhood in jail and juvenile detention as a result of his
involvement with the Playboys, one of L.A.'s largest gangs. It
wasn't until Leo was released, got married and had a child that
he started to reevaluate his life plan. He now installs low-flush
toilets for the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power and
maintains a side business in construction. We spent time with
Leo at his old stomping grounds near Belmont High School in the
Rampart section of Los Angeles, and at his mother in law's house
Then it was off to San Diego, where Judy went on-air with the
Y University radio guys, a trio of Gen Nexters who host a
weekly radio program on all things Gen Next related. John Fiske
and his childhood friends, Kris White and Brent Williams, all
22, usually start their show with a quick recounting of their
weekend exploits, and then move to more serious discussions about
issues impacting Generation Next. After interviewing Jean Twenge,
the author of "Generation Me," the three invited Judy
into the studio, where she peppered them with on-air questions
about their generation's political views, their thoughts on social
issues and about life as young adults in San Diego.
The RV pulled a quick U-turn after the San Diego stop, and headed
back up the coast to Palo Alto, just south of San Francisco. Palo
Alto is the home of Stanford University and our ultimate destination,
the social networking site Facebook.com. Judy interviewed Facebook
founder Mark Zuckerberg, a 22-year-old Harvard dropout, and a
group of young Facebook employees. Read more about Judy's impressions
of Facebook here,
and David's blog about the Facebook group's resistance to labeling
their generation as "different."
During all the interviews and filming, young people lined up
to contribute to the RV kiosk at a variety of locations up and
down California, from University Avenue in Palo Alto, to the Walgreen's
near Echo Park in Los Angeles, to Pacific Beach in San Diego.
Check out the team's blog
entries for more about the cast of Gen Next characters who
stepped on board at our various stops.
If you have any ideas or questions, please feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
See you on the road!