The Business of “Stopping Thumbs”

Athan Stephanopoulos, President of NowThis, a news media organization that targets millennials, is in the “business of stopping thumbs in a scrolling economy.” The shift from traditional, newspaper journalism to media on social networks is evident in today’s society, and the success of NowThis attests to its effectiveness.

By taking advantage of our constant online presence, NowThis transmits politics, culture, and other sorts of news directly from our Facebook feeds, at once enriching and educating our online experiences. Stephanopoulos, when asked if this sort of shift would “replace” traditional news avenues like longer and more detailed articles in newspapers, stated that it would not replace, but direct more people to these platforms. NowThis serves to introduce complex issues to a wide range of people through online platforms, seeking to pique the interest of these people and lead them to learn more about these specific issues.

All forms of media and journalism, whether it’s a NowThis video or a New York Times article, are inextricably linked, both in content and bias. According to Stephanopoulos, “Media is always going to be biased. You are always going to process it through the way you see it, the lens you use to view the world.” NowThis targets millennials and often focuses on views that millennials have and topics that they care deeply about.

Stephanopoulos addressed the concept of opinion being popularly viewed as “fake news” as well, disputing it and saying that NowThis’s progressive leanings reflect the base of viewers that follow the platform. For example, discussing the importance and realness of climate change is viewed as a progressive or left leaning viewpoint but it also reflects the overall attitudes of young people. The beliefs and views that millennials share are relevant to not only current news but the news of the future, which is why NowThis aims and focuses its attention on issues pertaining to this group.

The importance of relevance in storytelling cannot be stressed enough. Providing content for things that are important to your audience allows you to create a dedicated base of followers and allows you to create content that reflects the base in a consolidated way. This “scrolling economy” has definitely helped NowThis rise to fame and has definitely helped companies like NowThis provide and design content that is at once influential and educational.