News For Teens, By A Teen
LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:
We interview a lot of journalists on our program. Here's one that's attempting to reach a coveted audience - teens. Olivia Seltzer is 15, and she's created a daily newsletter that covers the day's top headlines for her peers. It's called The Cramm. Olivia joins us now from Santa Barbara. She's founder and editor-in-chief. Olivia, it's great to speak with you.
OLIVIA SELTZER: It's so great to speak with you, too. Thank you so much for having me.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: So why did you decide to create The Cramm?
SELTZER: So pretty much right after the 2016 presidential election, I noticed that all of my peers at my junior high school - the only thing they're talking about was news and politics. But what I also noticed was that there was no news source for young people, so no one I knew was actually reading or watching the news and turning this interest into anything.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: We saw you profiled in Teen Vogue, which has gotten a lot of attention for its political coverage. How do you write the news that's different than the way something like NPR would, you know, the mainstream media, so to speak?
SELTZER: Yeah. So I write The Cramm exactly how I talk to my friends. And also, everything I write, I'm writing it from a young person's perspective, and I think that that's really important. And I have my top story of the day. It's not necessarily going to be the top story at every news source, but it is going to be the top story in the eyes of young people.
So lately, there's been a lot going on with vaping. And vaping is incredibly popular among young people. Most of the people I know vape. But lately, there's been an issue where people will be hospitalized because they will have severe respiratory illness after vaping. And I think that's something that - I've heard young people talking about it at school a lot, but I haven't necessarily heard adults talking about that unless they're parents and they're concerned for their kids.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: In a world where the phrase fake news is bandied about at the highest levels, how are you fact-checking your news? Do you have an editing process?
SELTZER: So I wake up every day at 5 a.m. and I spend about an hour reading over pretty much every news source in existence because I think it's really important that I am giving an unbiased point of view. A lot of my friends have political views on both sides of the political spectrum and I don't want to alienate anyone. After I'm finished writing The Cramm, then I give it to my parents. And they'll just read over it and kind of edit it and make sure that everything's good. And if it's not, then we'll make adjustments because it's really important to me that everything is the most accurate it can be.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: The census shows that, for the first time, a majority of kids under 15 are nonwhite. And that's something that the mainstream media struggles with, too, not only to appeal to teens but to appeal to diverse teens. Do you think about the kinds of stories that might appeal to sort of a different demographic?
SELTZER: So I actually have an editorial team of teens from all over the world. And they actually will research news stories, and they'll send in any stories that they think deserve to be written about. And I think that's really important because these are teens that come from a variety of religions, of social classes, of backgrounds, of different races and ethnicities. And I think that that's really important that that's all being represented in the news because there's a viewpoint I present, but I also want to see the viewpoint of other teens from different backgrounds.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: I have to ask you - what do you think traditional news outlets can do to appeal to younger audiences? Or is it just a lost cause?
SELTZER: I don't think it's necessarily a lost cause, but I think, also, if traditional news sources want to appeal to young people, they actually need to bring in young people. I think a lot of times there are news sources, such as, like, Scholastic News for kids, that are geared towards kids, but I think a lot of times it feels like the news is being dumbed down for teens, which is not what we want. We want the real news, but we do want it in a way that speaks to us.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Olivia Seltzer is the founder of The Cramm. Thanks for joining us.
SELTZER: Thank you so much.
(SOUNDBITE OF BLAZO'S "FRESH ORANGE") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.