Sustainable and Free Journalism: A Conversation with Thred

Julie Luebken 10 December 2020
Image Credits: Wikimedia Commons

As an avid social media and news consumer, I find it difficult to know where to get reliable information about the world. Instagram is a useful tool for awareness and activism, The Guardian is helpful for political commentary and government criticism. Still, I don’t feel like there’s anywhere I can find out something new, positive or thought-provoking enough that I want to keep reading for longer. That’s why I find Thred exciting as a project. First, the founder, Jenk Oz, is 15 years old and has been working on this for about 4 years (you can do the math). Second, it’s a platform that is focused on producing content and interacting with brands to engage Gen Z and promote positive social change. I spoke to James Hutt, former Cambridge student, about the company and its goals.

Thred is much more than the website. Its status as a start-up means it is branching out to various corners of the business world. James is involved in the consulting aspect. It advises companies that want to connect with Gen Z and be involved with social change. It’s a right path in the direction of being more involved with issues that matter, looking beyond the economic and financial aspects of large companies in order to fit into a generation that is more forward-looking and change-oriented than ever before. Thred is aiming to fill the gap between what matters to us now and what used to matter when companies were first growing. In order to do this, they can no longer rely on traditional media outlets and have to be involved with social media strategy and different forms of advertising. No one does that better than Gen Z.

The fact that Thred was first and foremost a “youth-focused media organization” means it is best positioned to be able to interact with a community of young writers and entrepreneurs that want to see progress in how companies think and work. James described a platform that is focused on “sustainable and free journalism”, a change from the paywalls that large news organizations have installed over the years. No thank you, I do not want to pay 5 pounds a month for you to tell me how bad Donal Trump is. I’d much rather learn about Acne positivity or the forgotten refugee camp of Rukban.

What I find most valuable and oftentimes most lacking in politics and journalism, is conversation. Thred aims to encourage this interaction between people. Whether that is through their multiple social media presences or their Discord chatroom, I really got the impression that the aim of the company is to connect with us and to build a broad network of involved Gen Z’ers that are keen to help elevate discussions on social change. James is definitely one of those people. After graduating from NatSci in 2015, he went on to work in finance before quitting. He says he wanted to be proud of the work he was doing and when Thred came along, he saw a perfect opportunity. James describes Thred as a proud business model that is helping companies do their jobs better. There is a strong ethical approach, strong concern for the environment and a real belief that technology and social platforms can be used for good. With a lot of the negative aspects of the digital world becoming increasingly evident, it is reassuring to hear that efforts to better our usage of technology have not entirely dissipated.

One of Thred’s most fascinating projects is the building of a global network of writers. These writers would be involved in commenting on their local social movements, gathering stories and experiences of ways their communities are changing before their eyes. Because events happening around the world, especially when relating to social upheavals, are in many ways parallely to each other. If lessons can be drawn from various stories, or if similarities can spark a connection from across the world, then it is important to have a framework for that interaction. Thred wants to embody that. James describes this as “global reach, local feel.”

Building communities requires participants. Thred is new and growing, they are looking to find ambassadors, student writers or general interest in their project. If this sounds like something for you, email changemakers@thredmedia.com. Talking to each other is more important than ever, engaging in movements on issues that matter is equally as vital. Get involved!