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Thu Oct 10, 2019, 04:49 AM

Why Teens Are Creating Their Own News Outlets

Teens care about the news. They just don’t like traditional media.

https://www.teenvogue.com/story/teens-creating-own-news-outlets-instagram-text-message

In the aftermath of the 2016 presidential election, Olivia Seltzer, now 15, noticed a shift at school. “Basically overnight, all we could talk about was politics and what was going on in the world,” she tells Teen Vogue. Many of her peers in Santa Barbara, California, had parents who were undocumented immigrants, so they issues in the news hit close to home. Suddenly the personal felt very much political. “This massive interest in the news and politics came with an equally massive gap in the media,” Seltzer continues. “Traditional news sources are primarily written by and geared toward an older demographic, and unfortunately, they don’t always connect to my generation.”

That’s a problem, and an urgent one. Though a free press is crucial to democracy, more than one in four local newspapers have closed since 2004, and more Americans are getting their news from social media than traditional print media. Keeping young people engaged is necessary to foster civic engagement, and Seltzer wants to help close the gap.

In February 2017, she launched theCramm, which offers a daily look at major stories from around the world, distilled into a newsletter that lands in email and text inboxes each weekday. Every day, she rises at 5 AM to read the news before school, poring over outlets, including the BBC, CBS, NBC, The New York Times, Politico, and Reuters, among others, to ensure readers are receiving an “unbiased point of view with the news.” Seltzer works with an editorial team that helps research stories and finds inspiring individuals to interview for the newsletter, an advisory board comprised of “trusted adults,” and "theCramm Fam," ambassadors from around the world who promote theCramm. After reading, she compiles about 30 headlines into the Notes app, then divvies up articles of the day into sections before writing her coverage, which works to make the news “engaging, informative, and easily digestible.”

Despite the perennial tsk-tsking from older generations who fret that today’s young people are obsessively scrolling social media on their phones, a recent survey by Common Sense Media found that 78% of American teens ages 13 to 17 say it’s important to them to follow current events. Young adults are more likely to consume news through social media sites than they are traditional news organizations, online or in print, but that isn’t necessarily a negative when it comes to news. Teens who use social media are more likely to be civically engaged, and smartphone users who engage with social media report they're more regularly exposed to people who have different backgrounds, and feel like they have more diverse networks. Claiming young adults are zoning out on current events instead of zooming in ignores the fact that they’re digital natives, who grew up navigating an increasingly tech-reliant culture. Instead of staring at cable news, they’re pioneering new ways to engage with the stories that meet them where they are.

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