News for Kids: A YouTube Initiative (Team 4)

 

Requested Amount: $10,000
Expected Amount of time to Complete Project: Six months
Describe your Project: 500 words

For our project, we would like to create a YouTube channel that delivers news to late-elementary and early-middle school age students. In the wake of the recent election, we have come to the realization that an informed society is more imperative than ever. We believe this starts with young students—and yet, there is a gap in the demographic here when it comes to news delivery. We would like to fill this gap, and we believe YouTube is the best way to do this.

YouTube is popular with the millennial and the Z generation, and it also permeates across social media platforms. It can reach people on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, over text, via email, etc. Teachers can play short segments in classrooms, students can watch them on their phones or computers. With short, digestible videos written and packaged specifically with students in mind, critical and balanced news can hopefully reach one of the most impressionable and vulnerable demographics in American society.

The channel should take great care to be nonpartisan, thought this should not mean it strays away from talking about political issues. Its coverage of politics should be modeled after news outlets like BBC, New York Times, etc. However, it must be emphasized that balanced does not always mean equal coverage (e.g. equal time and weight wouldn’t be devoted to climate-change skeptics and climate change scientists). The channel should also not be “dumbed down,” because the point is not to make news simpler—short length discourages complex discussion of important issues—the point is to make it targeted toward preteens.

We believe a channel like this can be useful to parents or teachers looking to add discourse on current events into their children’s day, or even enterprising students looking to become more informed themselves. The channel should have a main 2-3 minute ‘headlines’ segment, and other categories such as ‘Sports,’ ‘Science,’ ‘Health,’ ‘Entertainment,’ etc. This way, the format is a sort of deconstructed news show where participants can feel like they have agency to pick what kinds of things they want to know about, and it can be tailored to whatever students have time for. Vlogbrothers is a good example to model after, though this channel is not really news-oriented as educational and pop-culture driven. This channel would in no way be competition.

A mainly preteen age range of 9-12 seems like the right age group, because any younger and students would need the news to be much less complex and any older students would be more likely to consume mainstream media outlets.

We envision a small, cheap set that looks somewhat like a newsroom, with one anchor for the headline news and perhaps recurring anchors for the other segments. These could be recruited as volunteers, or be paid on a part-time, as-needed basis. A good example is BBC Newsround, but much cheaper. Videos could be released on a daily or weekly basis, and segments on a regularly recurring schedule as well. BBC Newsround is also not competitive with our channel, as our channel will be oriented towards American students.

We do not anticipate much competition at all, as most news directed toward student audiences are in print format. There are next to no news-related YouTube channels, and they are too specific—kids travel news, animal news, etc. Ours would be the first initiative to be a comprehensive visual news network, but entirely marketed towards preteens.

What unmet need does your product meet? 200 words

There is definitely a gap in the market for news delivery to young adults. Kids are consuming more media than ever, and yet, almost none of it comes from the news. Most news is targeted towards not just to adults, but to adults who usually have a fundamental understanding about the context of ongoing stories or how certain political, economic, or social concepts work. Some of this has been addressed by organizations like Vox, whose purpose is to “explain the news,” but students need to be able to think critically about news and what is happening in the world—and hopefully, this sort of YouTube channel can address this and start building the critical foundation. Especially after the recent election, it seems crucial to educate students about the news and current events in an unambiguous and nonpartisan way.

Currently, many schools make their own news with student participation. However, schools without these resources could benefit from this service, as well as homeschooling parents, and any teacher or parent/guardian who is also looking for their students to have an understanding of national and global news rather than just local to the school or community.

Interview four potential users of your product about this unmet need. Do not tell them about your idea. Just explore their need. What did you learn? Include names and contact info for interviewees and a few words describing each — age, gender, occupation, town where of residence. Go for variety. 200 words

Amsal Khimani (847-208-9114)
Age: 13, male, middle schooler, Naperville, IL

Amsal mentioned that at school they watch CNN Student News. Although targeted to middle school/high school students, Amsal admitted that he couldn’t understand a lot of the vocabulary that was used. He also talked about how he would like to see more current events in the student news, especially after this election.

Huma Khimani (847-208-9719)
Age: 37, female, stay at home mom, Naperville, IL

Huma, Amsal’s mother, believes that the regular news is absolutely inappropriate for kids to watch. She believes that when kids watch the news at school it’s hard for parents to answer any of their questions when they come home. Huma suggested that news should be presented to kids so that parents can go back and refer to it in order to further explain certain topics.

Zehra Gokal (773-971-1144)
Age: 22, female, teacher, Chicago, IL

Zehra, a teacher in the Chicago Public School system, believed that news for kids should be somewhat filtered because kids can only take in and contextualize so much information. She described an incident the day after the election where a couple of her third graders asked what would happen to their families if Trump was elected president. She blamed the news media for instilling this fear in them.

Zahra Lalani (zlalani29@gmail.com)
Age: 25, female, teacher, Indianapolis, IN

Zahra described how different the methods of receiving news have become, especially for her fourth grade students. She pointed out that most of her students aren’t necessarily tuning in to the news every night, but they are checking their Snapchat, Instagram, etc and are exposed to news this way. It was also mentioned that almost all her students have a favorite Youtuber that they follow, so having some sort of kid-friendly outlet on these platforms would be beneficial.

How big is the potential market for your idea? Mention sources for any statistics you use. 100 words

The market potential for our project is exceedingly large, and would potentially be used everyday in school. There are countless articles on the internet with titles such as “How to get your kids into news”, and we aim to bridge that, and be an easy way for this question to be answered. Any child within the potential age range and beyond could be an audience, but also teachers and parents who are looking for a way of learning news at a level for children could also be considered part of our target audience.

How is your idea innovative — new or different from something already existing? Name your closest competitors – 200 words

There are lots of viable competitors out there that are already delivering news to children, however often these outlets are out of date, or not quite as informative as we aim to be. Many large newspapers have their own kids network, however they are often outdated, not remotely interactive, and often it seems like the content isn’t actually very child friendly. For example, The Times for Kids has an interface that is difficult to work with, and very long wordy articles that aren’t interesting. For our videos, and our project as a whole, everything will be tailored to making sure our content is up to date, interactive and most of all that it is fun. We want it to be something that is usable, easy to understand, and our main goal is that children are encouraged to be inquisitive themselves, without the need of reminders from parents or teachers.

How will your idea be financially sustainable? 150 words

Our idea could be financially sustainable, as many people have built a business from the ground up using YouTube. A lot of the budget would be on one-time buys, such as a professional camera and a set to film on. We would also budget in hiring people to help with the video editing, ensuring content is of the highest quality, and also presenters to deliver the news in a professional and also child friendly manner. This would likely be our main source of spending.

Income would come through selling advertising spots through YouTube, and also through potential sponsorship and merchandise, however this would change on demand.

Why are you and your team the right people to develop this project? 100 words

We believe we’re the best as we understand how important communication is in the modern world, especially with current events like the elections. These are times when being informed allows the creation of good morals and an interest in what is happening around us. As a team, we are all incredibly interested in the world around us, and all believe that everyone should have access to a news source that is understandable. We are all passionate about providing this source, and believe we have an idea and the drive to provide.

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3 Responses to “News for Kids: A YouTube Initiative (Team 4)”

  1. Love the idea! Growing up I loved the kid’s section in the paper and the Time for Kids magazine, so think if I were a kid today I would be totally in to watching your channel.

    Would you have the people “anchoring” your news segments be adults or would you try and find middle or high school students to present the information. Do you think Kids would be more receptive to listening to the news from their peers, or do you think adults would be better at providing more accurate information.

    Also what would your plan be for covering more sensitive issues. Many parents feel that some current events and news are inappropriate for their children to be seeing (for an example, many of the comments and accusations against Donald Trump). Would you still cover these stories? How would you plan to contextualize sensitive topics, while still making it appropriate for kids to watch and learn about them?

    • Thanks, Grace!

      We were thinking of having students do the anchoring, so it’s more relatable for the audience. I do think that kids would be more receptive if someone their own age was engaging with the news and informing them about it.

      Covering more sensitive issues would definitely be the hardest part about delivering news to kids in an appropriate and comprehensive manner. Issues like the election and Donald Trump are topics they should be informed about, however some of the content should be filtered, especially with Trump’s intense rhetoric. It’ll be important to maintain a balance between providing candid and relevant news and keeping it age appropriate for young students.

  2. I love the idea of providing a news platform for kids, and I think it could be very valuable, especially in classrooms.

    I agree with Grace that I think you should consider whether your news anchors should be kids or adults. I think kids might be more receptive to hearing kids their own age talk. I also think it might be pretty difficult to find someone willing to volunteer for a daily show and not expect payment, so I think you should consider if it would be in your budget to pay them.

    Something else I think you should consider is why there won’t be much competition for your idea, if there is a clear gap in news for this pre-teen group. Something I was thinking about was the interest level in kids of this age in current events you would be covering, like politics. What would make a kid choose on their own to watch a video on the current election? In order for kids to want to watch news about politics, I think there would need to be an emphasis on the fun aspect of your show, maybe with interactive games or things like that to draw interest.

    You also mentioned that you didn’t want to dumb down the content, but for things like politics, I think that could be nearly impossible to do, since much of this election and politics was very confusing, complicated, and controversial. I agree with Grace that there would need to be a lot of thought put into how to deliver difficult and controversial news to this demographic without dumbing it down. I think Grace’s comment about Donald Trump was a great example, but there were many topics this year, like police brutality, Donald Trump’s plans to defund Planned Parenthood, and the Stanford rape case that I don’t know how a youtube channel could present the news to children in a fun way that doesn’t dumb down the content. I think you would need to consider if there is some news you just will leave out, or when to draw the line about when you should filter the content.

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