If the news outlet you need doesn’t exist, sometimes you have to create it.
Olivia Seltzer was a 13-year-old student in California around the time of the 2016 presidential elections and “all anyone at my junior high school could talk about was news and politics. The majority of the people at my school are Latino and many of their parents are undocumented immigrants. There was a sense that what was going on in our government was impacting us all in a big way, but none of us were watching the news because it’s written by and geared toward an older demographic.”
So Olivia did what more and more people are doing: She found a solution herself.
She started The Cramm, an online newsletter and social media presence to provide stories of interest and importance to readers between the ages of 12 and 25.
The newsletter takes about two hours each morning to complete, so she wakes up at 5 a.m. to read and compile stories from major news outlets, rewrite them so they better resonate with a younger audience, and then sends out an email, text, Instagram story or video to readers.
“My goal is to create something you would get from traditional media, a 24-hour news site with journalists all around the world,” she says, admitting that might still be a little while off. For the time being, a newsletter is “an efficient format. From there, it was about figuring out the programs I would be using to really bring my idea into reality. I had experimented with coding and web design. I taught myself when I was 8 how to build a website. I felt I had all the tools necessary to make The Cramm a reality.”
After a few years, The Cramm now has readers in more than 100 countries around the world and an editorial team of young people from several countries. They provide story ideas and issue they feel should be included in the newsletter.
There’s a sense that some of the larger, international stories that young people are interested in and concerned about — like climate change, political upheaval in other countries, humanitarian issues, etc. — often fall by the wayside in traditional media. Working with a group of teenagers from around the world offers a broader and more varied perspective than what could be gathered from the local news, she says.
“I set out to start The Cramm to educate and activate. That’s our mission statement,” Olivia says. “We’ve seen young people doing that. We’ve had young people organize marches and rallies at their school for things from gun violence to sexual assault. We’ve had people create clubs at their school to discuss political events and then each month take an action to try to raise awareness about the event. People are saying they now feel informed enough to vote or just to have conversations about issues that matter.”
It’s All Journalism host Michael O’Connell is joined by Olivia Seltzer, the founder and writer of The Cramm, an online newsletter and social media presence offering to bring young people around the world politically relevant news of the day, focused on their interests and values.