Try new things. You can always go back to the same old thing, but new things can be better, just give things a chance before doubting them.
As part of my series about young people who are making an important social impact”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Jackson Gosnell.
Jackson Gosnell is a teenager (17) who covers news on social media. He has tens of thousands of followers across various social media platforms. Jackson regularly interviews relevant figures for his news coverage.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit. Can you tell us a bit how you grew up?
Sure, so I grew up in Greenville, South Carolina where I still live today. I have no siblings, just my parents and a dog, Maximus. My childhood was always fun. I have been a curious person from the beginning, I remember asking my parents hundreds of questions each day just trying to enhance my knowledge about random things.
Is there a particular book or organization that made a significant impact on you growing up? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?
I wouldn’t say there was a specific book but I would say I had some great teachers and family members. I was never a “normal” kid, I was always different in terms of my everyday life. I didn’t really play with “normal” kid toys, I always wanted the real deal. I also didn’t play much on the playground in school, I hung out with the teachers to catch up on the gossip related to the school environment that day. In saying all of that, I was encouraged to be myself and not care what others think. I still carry that today, sure you’ll get some negative comments but as I like to say “who gives a rip?” just move on and do the best you can.
How do you define “Making A Difference”? Can you explain what you mean or give an example?
I think making a difference means to drastically change things for people in what I would hope to be a positive way. I think journalism makes a difference everyday more than we realize. If we did not have news, sure the world would be more calm but no one would know whats happening which is really troubling especially when you’re talking about the government.
Ok super. Let’s now jump to the main part of our interview. You are currently leading an organization that aims to make a social impact. Can you tell us a bit about what you and your organization are trying to change in our world today?
Yes, so as I mentioned-I have always been a curious person. I found out how to present news and it always stuck with me. So, one day I decided to post news clips on my social media pages and they began to generate a lot of views. I was like “nice, I need to up my game here”, so I kept growing. I talked to some of my local reporters who guided me and now I am posting news videos for everyone online. I think it’s a great way to disseminate information because most people aren’t watching the news as much anymore and they turn to the internet, especially people my age.
Can you tell us the backstory about what inspired you to originally feel passionate about this cause?
When I was 12, a reporter filmed a story with me at a park. I was very fascinated by all of her stuff and she offered me a chance to tour the TV station. When I toured the station, I was immediately drawn in and loved it. Since then, I wanted to get involved and to this day her and I still talk all the time.
Many of us have ideas, dreams, and passions, but never manifest it. They don’t get up and just do it. But you did. Was there an “Aha Moment” that made you decide that you were actually going to step up and do it? What was that final trigger?
I think the final trigger was seeing events happen on the news and then asking people about them and they had no idea. At that point I wanted to come up with a way that even the most busy people could get the same information as they would find on TV except not from TV since they obviously weren’t watching it.
Many young people don’t know the steps to take to start a new organization. But you did. What are some of the things or steps you took to get your project started?
I would say when you have an idea just go for it. That’s what I did, find some mentors and take the advice you get and run with it.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company or organization?
I had been keeping up with the Netflix series that went super popular during the COVID-19 outbreak, Tiger King. Carole Baskin was at the center of the major documentary, viewers were wondering if she was involved in her husband’s disappearance. I wanted to ask her myself, so after a few days of researching, I was able to contact her and we set up an interview. I got to ask my questions and we still email from time to time now. That was one of my coolest experiences, I would not have imagined that a person who I saw mentioned on all types of procustds at the mall, would be interested in talking to me…a normal person.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson or take away you learned from that?
One of the mistakes I made was copying what other people had done. I learned that originality is key. Always do your own thing, if people wanted to see something else-they would have gone to the other person’s platform initially. Be yourself.
None of us can be successful without some help along the way. Did you have mentors or cheerleaders who helped you to succeed? Can you tell us a story about their influence?
Yes as I mentioned earlier, my local TV reporters were some of my best cheerleaders as well as my parents. They pushed me to do more and to do better. That’s what I have strived to do since.
Are there three things the community/society/politicians can do to help you address the root of the problem you are trying to solve?
Yes, make sure you tell the truth and make information accessible.
Fantastic. Here is the main question of the interview. What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why? (Please share a story or example for each).
- People are snakes sometimes, those who act like they want to help can be out to get you like a snake in the grass.
- Be smart, know what you’re talking about and research it before going on a rumble about it.
- Learn, learn, learn. The more you know the better.
- Get out of your comfort zone. It’s okay to branch out, don’t be uptight all the time.
- Try new things. You can always go back to the same old thing, but new things can be better, just give things a chance before doubting them.
If you could tell other young people one thing about why they should consider making a positive impact on our environment or society, like you, what would you tell them?
The world is full of negativity and if you have the opportunity to change something for the better, I would say to absolutely go for it.
Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂
I would love to sit down with CBS Evening News anchor and managing editor, Norah O’Donnell. She is an amazing journalist and I believe she does an outstanding job. I would like to know her journey to the desk and what advice she would give to someone like myself.
How can our readers follow you online?
I am @JGosnellNews on all platforms. 🙂
This was very meaningful, thank you so much. We wish you only continued success on your great work!