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During huge world events such as this, staying informed can be challenging, and even detrimental to your mental health. People are increasingly looking for more easily digestible sources of truth. Shit You Should Care About, a New Zealand-based news publication, was born out of this. Founded by three 21-year-old Kiwi girls, SYSCA looks to cut through all the noise to deliver honest, factual information. What began as an Instagram account has now grown to include a website and podcast, with a following of over 200,000 from all over the world. We spoke to co-founder Lucy Blakiston about their journey.

Fake news

Why did you start SYSCA? How do you think it differs from other news outlets?
Here at SYSCA we really just want to cut through the bullshit. The news is noisy and saturated, and no one has enough time to read it all. That’s why our team cuts through all that noise, bringing you only the facts (and a bit of Harry Styles every now and again.) We aren’t experts, but we do our best to source up to date, reliable content.

Who is your typical reader?
At first it was young people. Young people who don’t have time to sit down and scroll through the news for hours each morning. Now it’s anyone who wants to stay informed, and these days that’s pretty much everyone. No one wants to be that person at the dinner table with no idea what’s going on in the world - and if you’re reading this thinking “that’s me” - come join us!

How do you decide what a legitimate source is?
I have my trusted news sources, like the BBC or the New York Times. If I’ve been sent news from elsewhere, like someone has sent me a DM with a headline - I’ll always corroborate it and do some reading around it. Likewise, if I see a news headline circling instagram or Facebook and want to share it, I’ll always read the comments on it - other people are usually pretty quick to call out fake news, so they’re a great judge.

During such a huge global event such as COVID-19, what do you believe is the most important information to give to the public?
FACTUAL INFORMATION. If you don’t know whether it’s true - don’t post it. We also think information on how to get help if you’re stuck in lockdown with an abuser, or if you know your mental health is going to struggle during this time is important. We don’t just give a shit about the news, we give a shit about humankind. Our main goal with reporting around COVID-19 is to not cause panic, so we take our role here as a media outlet very seriously.

In recent times, there has been a growing mistrust of the media. How do you respond to that?
By doing what we do best. Posting relevant content that people are actually going to care about - and being transparent if we get it wrong. Like I said earlier, we aren’t experts - just humans - and we will be the first to apologize and amend if we make a misstep. Where other organizations might try to cover things up, we like to face things head on. We always do our best to be better.

What have you learned, and what have you been most proud of since starting SYSCA?
Since starting SYSCA we’ve realized just how much of a difference spreading reputable news (and all the other fun stuff we do) can make. We’ve grown a massive community of supportive and loyal humans and they keep us in the loop as much as we keep them in the loop! Mostly what I’m proudest of is that SYSCA has become a catalyst to caring. Since starting it, so many more people are reaching out to us with things they care about. We’ve also seen a whole new wave of Instagrams that have begun that are similar to ours which makes our hearts happy, because at the start it was just us. It’s so nice to see instagram being used for good.

Finally, how are you coping in self-isolation? Is there anything you are reading/watching/listening to that you’d recommend?
I’m coping okay - although it is a bit overwhelming dealing with the amount of new information and updates that are occurring every day. At the moment I’m listening to The Daily, a podcast by the New York Times (soon I’ll be listening to The Shit Show... watch this space), and I’m watching The Politician on Netflix (it’s my comfort show - it eases my anxiety a lot.) And what am I reading? Just a LOT of news. But shit, I love it.

Shit You Should Care About

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Part 12