June 13, 2019

This expansion of the ambassador program will help the Google-backed MediaWise program teach more than 1 million teens how to tell fact from fiction online.

NEW YORK and ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (June 13, 2019) – MediaWise, a digital literacy project for teenagers led by the Poynter Institute, announces today a major expansion of its ambassador program.

The role of the MediaWise Ambassador was launched on Feb. 13 when NBC Nightly News anchor Lester Holt announced he was supporting the project at a MediaWise training event at Woodrow Wilson High School in Washington, D.C.

The new group of supporters include new and old friends of the MediaWise project. They are:

John Green

“Digital literacy is a critical skill in the 21st century, and I am so grateful for the work Mediawise does to help young people sort fact from fiction. I’ve also benefited personally from their work, because in working with Mediawise to create a video series about navigating digital information, I learned many useful tools for improving my information feeds.”

  • Award-winning, #1 bestselling author of “Turtles All the Way Down,” “Looking for Alaska,” “An Abundance of Katherines,” “Paper Towns, “Will Grayson, Will Grayson” (with David Levithan), and “The Fault in Our Stars.”
  • Selected by TIME magazine as one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World.
  • Co-creator, with his brother Hank, of many online video projects, including Vlogbrothers and the educational channel Crash Course with 9.375 million subscribers.
  • Host of the MediaWise Crash Course, Navigating Digital Information.

Savannah Sellers

“Fake news online can create and spread hate, damage our democracy and fracture our world. It’s vitally important that our next generation and future leaders be equipped to recognize and reject these ugly tactics. I can’t wait to get to work with MediaWise as their next ambassador.”

  • A correspondent for NBC News and MSNBC, co-host of NBC’s Stay Tuned show on Snapchat, Instagram and YouTube and host of NBC News for Universal Kids, the only daily TV news program created specifically for kids.
  • “For teenagers who consume news via social on mobile, Sellers is the closest thing they have to Barbara Walters” – Taylor Lorenz, Daily Beast.
  • Host of a MediaWise training event this evening at the new Grow with Google learning space in New York City, teaching teenagers how to spot misinformation and disinformation online.
  • Introduced to MediaWise after doing a segment on ‘Stay Tuned’ with Lester Holt for International Fact-Checking Day.

Ingrid Nilsen

In today’s media world, misinformation is circulating at such a rapid rate that media literacy is important now more than ever. In the beauty and wellness industry specifically, I’ve seen this information used to impact the way we feel about our bodies and the products we buy to ‘improve’ ourselves. That’s why I’m partnering with the MediaWise project to provide resources that I believe every person should have.”  

  • Beauty and wellness expert
  • YouTube Creator with 3.75 million subscribers and over a decade of YouTube experience.
  • Awarded the Digital Innovator Award by TrevorLive.
  • Taught with the MediaWise team at the Teen Vogue Summit in New York City.
  • Selected for Oprah’s SuperSoul 100 and named a UN Change Ambassador for Gender Equality.

Destin Sandlin

“After meeting with Gen. Robert Brown and discussing the future of human conflict, it became clear to me that the next battlefield is for the hearts and minds of common citizens online.  I decided to work with Mediawise to lend my online voice to their efforts to combat these attacks and hopefully help our youth understand the importance of discerning fact from fiction online.”

  • Aerospace engineer and science geek
  • Host of educational video series on YouTube, Smarter Every Day
  • Smarter Every Day now has over 6.8 million subscribers and 500 million views, making it one of YouTube’s top-rated science channels.
  • Hosted a MediaWise video, “Why your newsfeed SUCKS,” that has 717,000+ views.
  • Helped MediaWise create the #isthislegit hashtag campaign.
  • Will host two teaching events in his home state of Alabama this fall.

Mark Watson

“By joining forces with Poynter and what they’ve started with MediaWise, I can’t wait to help better our future leaders by giving them the tools that will help make sure the information they share will be accurate and impactful.”

  • Military veteran
  • Star of the ‘Soldier Knows Best’ consumer electronics channel on YouTube with 785K subscribers
  • From St. Louis
  • Hosted a MediaWise video entitled “The Worst Thing About Product Rumors” which has amassed 7,000+ views.

Peter Hamby

“Reaching people who aren’t consuming the news in traditional formats is a signal challenge for the press, and MediaWise is at the forefront of that challenge. I’m excited to help Mediawise bridge the gap between younger news consumers and a media establishment that’s figuring out how to bring them credible information at a time of significant upheaval.”

  • Veteran award-winning political journalist based in Los Angeles
  • Host, Snapchat’s ‘Good Luck America’
  • Contributor to Vanity Fair
  • Former Head of Snapchat News
  • Taught with the MediaWise team at SXSW Edu

This expansion of the MediaWise Ambassador program will be marked at an event at the new  “Grow with Google” learning space today in New York. The event will be led by Savannah Sellers, co-hosted by MediaWise program editor & manager Katy Byron and feature an appearance by MediaWise Teen Fact-Checker Madelyn Knight. Dozens of teenagers will attend to learn fact-checking skills like lateral reading and reverse Google Image search.

“MediaWise is growing fast and we couldn’t be happier to see our community building online,” Byron said. “Today’s teens look up to digital leaders like Savannah, John, Ingrid, Destin, Mark and Peter and we are so grateful to have their support as we push forward to the release of Stanford’s curriculum this fall,” she added.

MediaWise ambassadors are available for media interviews. Please contact Tina Dyakon, director of marketing, at (727) 553-4343 or with requests.

The MediaWise project is funded by as part of the Google News Initiative.


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 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 teen digital information literacy project. Collectively, this work builds public awareness about journalism, media, the First Amendment and discourse that serves democracy and the public good.



Tina Dyakon
Director of Marketing
The Poynter Institute

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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

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