July 9, 2020

ST PETERSBURG, Fla. (July 8, 2020) – In partnership with the Poynter Institute, WGBH News today launches “Internet Expert,” a social TV game show designed to engage Generation Z voters in the democratic process. The project is part of Poynter’s VidSpark initiative, a shareable video storytelling lab for local newsrooms funded by the Google News Initiative.

“With the launch of Internet Expert, WGBH News will engage with young people who are just beginning to take part in the democratic process,” said Kate Zachry, news director of WGBH News. “We’re excited to partner with The Poynter Institute and the Google News Initiative in the creation of content that will help inform and inspire this audience, empowering them to participate in the national civic dialogue.”

According to Pew Research Center, 10% of eligible voters in the 2020 electorate are part of Generation Z. Twenty-four million members of this generation will have the opportunity to cast a ballot in November.

Internet Expert contestants compete in a series of head-to-head challenges, learning about topics such as the voting process, campaign finance, and how to spot misinformation or deception in political ads. Student journalist Malick Mercier hosts the series, available now on YouTube and IGTV with new episodes posted every other Wednesday.

As part of VidSpark, Internet Expert will inform a playbook that local newsrooms across the country can use to engage their own young audiences through shareable social video storytelling.

The other two VidSpark projects currently underway are:

  • “What’s Brewing?” is an investigative news series out of WTSP in Tampa Bay, Florida. Powered by strong home-brewed coffee, reporter Jenna Bourne digs up the information young people need to protect themselves and stay informed during the COVID-19 pandemic in Florida. Find the first episodes of “What’s Brewing” on YouTube.
  • “Tomorrow Together” is a video series from The Star Tribune in Minneapolis, which tackles questions about how Minnesota is rapidly changing in the midst of the pandemic, and after the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police. The series features local stories of people creating community and finding a way forward. Find the first episodes of “Tomorrow Together” on YouTube.

VidSpark is led by Ahsante Bean, Poynter’s editor and program manager of video strategy.

“Like all newsrooms, our program participants have had to quickly pivot to meet the moment in their communities, from covering the pandemic to local protests to the presidential election,” said Bean. “The difference here is pioneering new storytelling formats, building new teams and workflows within the organizations, and specifically catering to new younger audiences. I’m impressed with the content we’ve created so far, and we’re already honing best practices that will serve the industry as it tries to grow its audience in the future.”


About The Poynter Institute

The Poynter Institute for Media Studies is a global leader in journalism education and a strategy center that stands for uncompromising excellence in journalism, media and 21st-century public discourse. Poynter faculty teach seminars and workshops at the Institute in St. Petersburg, Florida, and at newsrooms, conferences and organizations around the world. Its e-learning division, News University, offers the world’s largest online journalism curriculum, with hundreds of interactive courses and tens of thousands of registered international users. The Institute’s website produces 24-hour coverage about media, ethics, technology and the business of news. Poynter is the home of the Craig Newmark Center for Ethics and Leadership, the Pulitzer Prize-winning PolitiFact, the International Fact-Checking Network and MediaWise, a digital information literacy project for young people, first-time voters and senior citizens. The world’s top journalists and media innovators rely on Poynter to learn and teach new generations of reporters, storytellers, media inventors, designers, visual journalists, documentarians and broadcasters. This work builds public awareness about journalism, media, the First Amendment and discourse that serves democracy and the public good. Learn more at

Support high-integrity, independent journalism that serves democracy. Make a gift to Poynter today. The Poynter Institute is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization, and your gift helps us make good journalism better.
Mel Grau is the senior product specialist at The Poynter Institute, focusing on Poynter's training experiences and newsletters. She previously edited The Cohort, Poynter’s biweekly…
Mel Grau

More News

Back to News