by Colleen Bradford Krantz

Oct. 29, 2013

Just over a year ago, I spoke at a state social studies conference about a project I’d just completed.

The teachers attending were the first to see a video set I’d created where I told one news story three different ways: one with what could be most simply described as a liberal viewpoint, one with a conservative viewpoint, and one where I attempted to be as even-handed as I could.

The message I got from those teachers last fall was along these lines: “We love this! It’s going to be great for students! But we’ll never pay for it.”

They were so right. The Internet is full of so many free videos that teachers have to be extremely motivated to want to pay for anything.

I drove away from the conference that day feeling a mix of triumph and defeat. Triumph because they affirmed what my instincts had told me: students and the general public need to know how to watch the news more wisely, to understand when the messenger’s viewpoint is getting in the way and what that might look like. But, I also felt defeated because I knew if I continued creating what I had dubbed video “skew sets,” I was going to go broke pursuing my passion.

I shifted plans for my project, News Tutor, during that drive home. What if I instead created a low-priced app for teachers and parents? Could I at least recover a portion of my investment so I could continue to create tools that would help people understand why watching partisan cable news reports might not be the best way to raise open-minded children and an open-minded nation?

As you can already see, I’m more the creative type than a business strategist.

I was wise enough to convince Becky Waller Bausman, a brilliant strategic marketing expert in the Silicon Valley, to join the  News Tutor team. I was not wise enough, however, to pay much attention when she kindly pointed out the long-term prospects for turning a profit at $0.99 per sale. I shrugged it off, blinded by my determination to fulfill this “calling.”

Search for "News Tutor" on the App Store, or click on the image for the iPhone version.

Search for “News Tutor” on the App Store, or click on the image for the iPhone version.

But, what Bausman already knew was this: News Tutor is about more than this one app. As a business and as a force for positive change, it is about more than initial sales performance. And if initial feedback holds true as more educators, parents, and students discover our unique mission and approach, it is a powerful teaching resource with a highly valuable impact on our world’s future young leaders.

With the launch of the first News Tutor app – featuring an interesting become-the-journalist quiz/game applicable to any social studies, English or speech class – we introduce a compelling new way to inspire and teach students to become more discerning consumers of news content.  More skew sets will follow.

I’ll settle my bank accounts later.

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