Cory Booker, Internet’s Favorite Mayor, Creates Media Site for Teens
Cory Booker, the socially savvy mayor of Newark, N.J., who has used Twitter to help residents burrow out of foot-deep snow and whose other heroics have spawned the “Super Mayor” meme, is co-founding a media startup aimed at the millennial generation called #waywire.
The centerpiece of #waywire will be video content created by youth to highlight the issues most important to them and their local communities. #waywire will also include professional-quality original content as well as links to news reports from traditional media outlets for users to share and discuss. Users’ videos as well as discussions sparked by those videos will carry over to other social platforms to further drive conversation.
Mayor Booker told Mashable that the core idea behind #waywire is the creation of “a new social platform for youth to engage with and contribute to news information.”
“The goal is to get [youth] involved in changing their communities and the world,” he added. “It’s not about getting them engaged in other leaders, but to be the voices of change themselves. I always believe the power of the people is greater than that of the people in power.”
#waywire will be “laser-focused” on video, said fellow co-founder Nathan Richardson, for a few reasons. First, demographic research suggests millennials favor video more than any other type of media. Second, video is one of the “biggest things happening” in terms of digital ecosystems in general, and #waywire’s team wants to be at the front of that trend.
Richardson also stressed that user-generated content will be the “bedrock” of the platform.SEE ALSO: Super-Mayor Cory Booker Gets Memed
Booker believes that #waywire will become a welcoming environment for youth who want to become leaders in their communities but are increasingly turned off by what he considers a media enviornment that’s dominated by a small amount of highly polarized voices.
“Youth can use the platform to talk about issues that are directly affecting them, like a lack of police presence in their neighborhood or a lack of access to college,” said Booker. “Using their social streams and creativity, they can begin to shape a larger conversation, which right now is dominated by an oligarchy.
“Social media is a powerfully democratizing force that’s given rise from everything from the Arab Spring to Occupy Wall Street,” he added.
“What we need to start doing is finding ways to give more people the tools necessary to influence world around them, not let them be drowned out, glossed over or ignored. When you let their voices be heard, it becomes less ideological, you’re opening arteries and dialogue, it becomes infinitely more pragmatic about getting things done and making a difference.”
#waywire already has funding from First Round Capital and Eric Schmidt’s venture firm as well as other angel investors. Booker will not be involved in the site’s day-to-day operations while he remains the mayor of Newark.
Could a platform like #waywire counter the left-versus-right nature of the national conversation? Share your thoughts in the comments.