Kids these days just want to make the world a better place.
According to a 2011 study by Pew Research, 79 percent of people aged 18 to 24 say having a career that benefits society is “very important,” and another Pew study, from 2010, found that millennials volunteer more often than any other age group. As much as selfies and student load debt, this drive to make a difference defines the Millennial generation.
But 18-year old Patrick Finnegan is worried about his fellow millennials. “A lot of people my age talk about changing the world,” he says. “But they don’t know anything about it.”
It’s hard, he says, to educate yourself in the ways of world. The history behind Middle East politics or post-Soviet conflict zones make Game of Thrones look straightforward, and it’s often difficult to know where to start. Most news sites, he says, publish articles that either don’t provide enough background, or are far too long. Long form essays published by magazines like The New Yorkerare great, but it’s not necessarily the ideal way to get briefed on all the issues.
Seeing this problem, Finnegan and Lisa Jaques, his St. Andrews Delaware boarding school classmate, decided to do what anyone their age would do. They founded a startup. WorldState is an online news venture with one goal at heart: helping young people get up to speed on current events. The app is part of a larger effort to change the way we consume news online, an effort that includes everything from services like Circa and Vox to more familiar names like Google and Wikipedia.
Realizing that asking people to install yet another app on their phones is a struggle, the company has taken a decidedly old school approach to disseminate its content up until now: an email newsletter. But the company is now rolling out a beta for its mobile web app, which will bring new stories in on a rolling basis. And, more importantly, it will provide concise introductions to the biggest news topics, such as the Ebola scare, gay marriage, and the shooting of Michael Brown.