NowThis is the # 1 mobile news publisher in the world. They have a singular mission: to make news engaging and relevant for young adults by humanizing our complicated world. By providing insightful context from a youth perspective, NowThis has revolutionized how news is delivered today. Launched in 2012, NowThis’ entertaining, inspiring and informative videos are created for a mobile generation who consistently spend nearly 20M hours every month watching its content.
On January 21, 2019, NowThis published its original investigative report, “NowThis Reports: School Inequality in the Deep South.” Within four days, a federal judge in Louisiana watched the video and cited it in his court order on January 25, 2019, demanding Catahoula Parish School Board lawyers watch NowThis’ report and respond in writing by March 1, 2019 to the issues featured throughout.
NowThis reports news for young people by young people, connecting on the platforms where they spend their time with highly-shareable, mobile-first videos.
NowThis pioneered text-on-screen social video -- now a ubiquitous industry practice -- and over the last two years, it has invested in deeper original reporting, created specifically for the mobile-first generation. In 2018, NowThis brought on its first dedicated investigative reporter, Dan Lieberman, formerly of CNN, who is furthering the newsroom’s mission to uncover social issues that are generally absent in the mainstream media.
In January 2019, NowThis published Lieberman’s original investigative report, “NowThis Reports: School Inequality in the Deep South,” which highlights racial inequities still occurring today in Catahoula Parish, Louisiana -- more than five decades after desegregation. To tell this important story and achieve the most impact, the video report was created for and distributed across Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, and was optimized for each platform for ideal performance and shareability. NowThis leveraged these platforms’ highly-engaged communities and native tools for viewers to share the story with their networks -- ultimately shedding light on this rural community’s problems to audiences near and far.
One constant in today’s ever-changing world is the power that young people wield. This was further supported when students at Catahoula Parish’s Block High School began protesting their school conditions (dilapidated buildings, mold exposure, weathered textbooks and uncertified teachers) in September 2018. NowThis traveled to the Louisiana school district to see the inequities first-hand and hear from students and local officials.
Despite a 1969 desegregation federal court order against the Catahoula Parish School Board, Lieberman uncovered that two of the district’s schools differed drastically from one another. Just 10 miles apart, Block High School was in structural disarray with unqualified and uncertified educators, with a senior class that was nearly 70% black; meanwhile, neighboring Harrisonburg High School’s senior class was nearly 90% white, performed better academically and studied on a campus remarkably better than Block’s.
Since publishing across NowThis’ Facebook, Twitter and YouTube channels, Lieberman’s investigative report has been watched nearly 8M times with over 358K engagements (shares, likes, comments). But more importantly, it has made a significant impact on the local youth and community at large. A federal judge based in Louisiana, who in 2013 had previously ordered that the school board provide regular desegregation progress reports, watched NowThis’ viral report. Our video reminded him that the board failed to comply with his 2013 court order and also showed him the realities of Block High School, of which he was previously unaware.
NowThis’ investigative report not only highlighted real inequalities existing in a poor, rural community, but it brought about actual change, all while lifting up the voices of young people.
Our social-first, investigative report impacted the Catahoula Parish community in the following ways:
A Louisiana federal judge, who in 2013 had previously ordered that the school board provide regular desegregation progress reports, watched NowThis’ viral report, which reminded him that the board failed to comply and never once updated the court, and also showed him the realities of Block High School, which he was previously unaware of;
The judge ordered that both the school board and Department of Justice appear in court to give him a progress report;
The NAACP offered to, and subsequently entered, the court case to represent the students;
The school board is now complying with court orders and regularly updating the court (most recently on 6/1/19);
Block High School’s principal resigned;
The district’s superintendent retired (pre-planned);
The district has hired a new principal, superintendent and numerous certified teachers;
Previously uncertified instructors are now obtaining certification;
Various groups sent donations to the school and offered Block High School senior, Shir’Cold Bowman, scholarships to attend college;
Much needed capital improvements have been made at Block High School.