If you’re getting a bit burned out on traditional news but want to stay informed, you might want to check out “John News,” a video podcast written, produced and delivered by a 7-year-old boy.
John Wortman, a second grader at Ephesus Elementary School in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, loves watching science videos on YouTube and always wanted to have his own channel, his dad, Thomas Wortman told WRAL.
When the coronavirus pandemic shut down school in the middle of March due to the coronavirus pandemic, John decided to launch a newscast on his father’s YouTube channel.
“I think he was a little bit bored,” said Thomas, who said he helps his son with logistics.
John uses an iPhone on a tripod and an external microphone to record his newscasts. He and his dad use a word processing app to time out each newscast and create an iPad teleprompter that’s placed just below the camera.
Each week, the pair teams up to come up with stories, write a script and arrange virtual interviews.
“I feel really strongly about fostering John’s independence,” said Thomas. “Of course I have my suggestions, but he has full veto authority.”
“John News” tackles serious issues like coronavirus and climate change, interviewing Chapel Hill Mayor Pam Hemminger, a psychotherapist and his school principal — among many others. But his videos are generally light-hearted and also includes special features like cooking and “good news” segments.
While “John News” has a strong following locally, it also has viewers in Canada and in Indonesia, where he recently spotlighted an orangutan rescue operation.
“That foundation got hold of the newscast and shared it worldwide,” Thomas said.
John also sells “I Love John News” T-shirts for $20 and donates the proceeds to Table, a local food bank.
Although journalism seems to come naturally to John, his father said he is most interested in pursuing a career in teaching.