Andrew Demeter has been having a heck of a good year.
His documentary, “We the People, Genetically Modified?” won first prize in C-SPAN’s 2014 StudentCam competition, and when he took the award ceremony as an opportunity to confront House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi about NSA snooping, he gained the attention of national media.
Now, two months after generating national buzz, the 16-year-old is attempting to launch a new project: a news network run by, and mainly for, teenagers.
Does America want such a network?
In a conversation with TheBlaze, Demeter explained his vision for his independent network, which he’s dubbed “Politicast.”
“[Politicast would] give a shot to the teens who have their own YouTube channels, people who already have their own content,” Demeter said, while at the same time, “draw[ing] in those teens who are apathetic to politics.”
Demeter has plenty of experience in creating political content — he’s run his own YouTube channel, TeenTake, for a couple years — and he told TheBlaze he hopes to add pop culture and music content to draw in his “apathetic” peers.
While he identfies as a libertarian, he said Politicast will “shatter the left-right paradigm” and offer a home for “people from all parts of the political spectrum.”
He also said the network’s teenage anchors and writers would cut through complicated jargon, offering “simplification without dilution.”
His project comes with at least one major vulnerability: Who would trust teenagers to deliver the news?
“We can’t have credibility from day one,” Demeter admitted. “We’ll have to build it over time.”
On-location reporting is one way Politicast could cement itself as a reliable news source, Demeter offered, saying he would like to send teenage reporters to cover issues on the border, national political conventions and the like.
Demeter has been inspired by some unorthodox figures: Jesse Ventura, Ron Paul and Adam Kokesh.
Would Politicast feature the aggressive, questionable tactics of figures like Kokesh or InfoWars’ Alex Jones?
“[Their tactics] are almost counterproductive, but they get their opinions out there,” Demeter noted, saying a little bit of “sensationalism” goes a long way when one’s trying to communicate in today’s information-saturated media. “They could be more moderate to be more credible, but they serve a purpose.”
He added, however, that, “I don’t agree with everything Kokesh says or Alex Jones says,” and that Politicast’s focus will be on “traveling, professionalism,” and producing dedicated, truth-seeking teenage journalists.
“The upside of places like Politicast is we don’t take corporate bribes,” Demeter said. “We’re funded by decentralized donors who just want the news.”
But therein lies the rub: Demeter is halfway through a month-long Indiegogo campaign to fund Politicast, and so far the fundraising has been underwhelming.
Demeter’s fundraising goal is $50,000 by Sept. 3, but as of Wednesday afternoon, 33 donors have ponied up a mere $1,700 — about 4 percent of his goal.
“We’re behind,” Demeter acknowledged, but he said he’s still confident in the project.
“At the end of the day, this is all reliant on the free market,” Demeter said. “If this doesn’t get funded, the market doesn’t want it. If it does get funded, that says the youth has valuable opinions and people want to hear them.”
If enough donors decide to fund Politicast, Demeter said he should be able to rent a studio, gather equipment and begin producing teenage journalism, harnessing the power of social media to spread the message of political involvement to America’s youth, by next summer.
It’s an ambitious dream.
Whether America will support the teenage news network remains an open question.
Follow Zach Noble (@thezachnoble) on Twitter