The News Crammer
In a world where it’s not uncommon for even grown ups to be confused by the news, Santa Barbara High’s Olivia Seltzer is working to make news more readable for teens and young adults. She does so with her newsletter, the Cramm, which launched almost three years ago when she was 13.
“Right after the 2016 presidential election, I noticed a big shift in the conversations,” said Olivia. “All we could talk about was news and politics. But I also quickly realized that there was no outlet for this interest.”
Specifically, there was a lack of a teens and young adults-oriented news outlets at the time in Olivia’s eyes.
“We had this massive interest but there was an equally massive gap in the medium.”
Out of this gap, the Cramm was born. Olivia came up with the idea at the age of 12 and jump started it a year later. Today, subscribers hail from over 70 countries in the world, and the newsletters are read “hundreds and thousands of times,” according to Olivia.
The 15-year-old was not always interested in global politics, but her parents nurtured skills to understand news and politics from a young age.
“My parents made my younger brother and I watch the news every night for half an hour,” said Olivia.
The interest, however, flourished when Olivia read about Malala Yousafzai.
“I felt so incredibly inspired by this story of a young girl,” said Olivia. Malala “was one of the initial people that inspired me. Since I started the Cramm, youth activism really has flourished. There’s been so many incredible youth activists like Greta Thunberg.”
Olivia told the News-Press that the Cramm runs on donations from friends and family and her bat mitzvah money. One day though, she hopes to grow the newsletter into a “media empire,” where she works full-time. For now, the newsletter has helped Olivia grow into a more out-spoken person, according to her.
She used to be so shy that she did not even tell close friends about the newsletter she had in the works. The close friends eventually found out, but they didn’t hear it from Olivia.
“They actually found out at my bat mitzvah when my parents said in their speeches” how proud they were, said Olivia.
A daughter of a screenwriter and an interior designer, Olivia feels that the Cramm is her own calling of creativity.
“I would still do the Cramm if nobody read it,” said Olivia. “There’s so much fear and hate in the world right now, and I think it all completely stems from ignorance.”
Reducing ignorance in this world, however, seems to take major work. Olivia wakes up every morning at 5 a.m. to read news from several outlets and then writes entertaining, bite-sized pieces that readers could consume on the go. Waking up and writing are not the hardest part of the gig. Olivia told the News-Press that sometimes, reading and processing the news, about the wars, famines and corruption, more often than not brings her to tears. Then why do it? Well, it seems that while Olivia strives to help others educate themselves, she is also being educated herself.
“I felt that it was really critical for me to take the time to inform myself and understand politics so i could actually affect change in ways other than just voting since that’s not an option that’s available to me,” said Olivia.
Folks can sign up for the Cramm via email or text. Visit thecramm.com for more details on what the website calls a cup of cramm.