Andrew Springer has spent a lot of time thinking about what Gen Z wants out of news. As a journalist, he’s led social media teams at NBC News, ABC News, “Good Morning America,” and Mashable. At NBC News, Springer developed and created “Stay Tuned,” the first news show on Snapchat.
After leaving NBC in 2019, Springer thought about applying his skill set — of knowing what Gen Z will watch — for something meaningful. “I really wanted to do something that was mission-driven. I had a lot of different ideas, I talked to a lot of different people, and what seemed like one area that’s really going unaddressed by the news media right now is high school-aged kids,” he said.
Springer, who is now a media consultant, hopes to fill this gap through “NOTICE News,” a five-minute, weekly news show for high school students. The mission of the series founded by Springer is to explain the news to high schoolers. The show, hosted by a diverse group of people, would be used in classrooms and include discussion questions, an interactive quiz and links to further resources for teachers.
A Kickstarter campaign to raise $15,000 to produce three new pilots this spring has surpassed its goal. As of this week, pledges totaled nearly $16,000.
“I think it’s more important than ever that we are raising our children to become thoughtful news consumers,” Springer said. He cited a 2011 Carnegie Corporation study on how crucial civics education is to growing engaged citizens. The second of what are considered six proven practices to a well-rounded civic learning experience is to discuss current events and controversial issues.
“It’s a key part of civics education … that kids know about what’s going on in the news, that they hear different sides of the argument, and they can talk about it and respectfully discuss it with one another. That’s the opposite of what we have on the news today, I think,” Springer said. “All we have on air and online, 24/7, are talking heads screaming at each other, telling each other what they want to hear, telling their audiences what they want to hear. … I think that our kids deserve more than that.”
For what he hopes to be a fall launch of “NOTICE News,” Springer teamed up with his close college friend, Amanda Krause, who is the director of curriculum for the series. Through a bootstrap pilot they organized last year, he said they found that high school students know the news is serious and want to be taken seriously. This also means no “childish graphics” and they certainly don’t want the “For Kids” version of the news, Springer said.
Krause, who works as a journalism program coordinator at Lake Forest Academy in Lake Forest, Illinois, views “NOTICE News” as a thoughtful resource for both students and teachers.
“When it comes down to it, teachers just have no time,” said Krause, adding that it takes time to create an informed citizenry, especially in today’s media. “When they want their students to be fully informed, where do they go to bring the news to students? Where do they send the students to, knowing that they’re going to be informed with an unbiased, thoughtful, purposeful way to accumulate what they need to know in the news quickly, but then also to have the background knowledge that they need.”
Krause said it’s not common anymore for students to be required to take a class on government, so many students don’t have the context. Then it becomes dependent on teachers to fill that in, she said.
Springer said his goal for “NOTICE News” is to have it provided as a free resource to students and teachers. With the Kickstarter’s goal surpassed, he said he’s already talking to potential partners — though there’s nothing to announce just yet.
“I think the outpouring of support this project has received shows just how much people recognize how important our mission is: getting unbiased, trustworthy news to Gen Z,” he said in an email to Poynter late last week.
Krause added that the events of 2020 — including the coronavirus pandemic, politics, social justice issues — have further engaged this young generation.
“Now everyone is engaged. If they ever were not engaged, now people are engaged,” she said. “In terms of technology resources, teachers have completely opened up in terms of needing to see what’s possible, how to enhance their classroom experiences with different online resources and media. In this moment of expanded awareness, expanded classroom technology, this is the moment to grab onto that.”