Samantha Harrington
17 May, 2015

I graduated a week ago.

I spent the past week pretending to be a grown up in the Reese News Lab. There’s no more surreal place to be a grown up than the one in which you did a lot of your growing up.

I also spent the past week clarifying and developing the ideas that (finally) turned into one, cohesive project called Driven Media.

Driven is a multimedia startup based out of an RV. It tells stories about real women and their journey through life while creating conversation about the issues important to young women today.

There have been moments in the past week (and the past month and a half that my team and I have been toying with the idea for Driven), that I’ve felt crazy.

“We’ll never get any money.”

“We’ll never make this work.”

“You’re 22 years old. Go get a “real” job and then work your way up to the things you really want to do.”

^^That’s the sound of my internal dialogue echoing the sentiments of so much of society.

People have joked that Driven sounds like, “a post-grad joyride,” or said, “that’s a fun gap year.”

What those people fail to understand is that we’re serious.

There is a serious problem in American media. Women make up 51 percent of the population but only 20 percent of media coverage. And what we see (or don’t see) in the media has real effects. It affects us psychologically by influencing the way we make decisions about our lives and in the way that we view our potential.

Driven Media will change this by telling the stories of real women. But it also seeks to shake up the way the media traditionally interacts with its audience. Driven’s stories don’t tell young women how to live their lives. They help them to understand that there are women who have struggled with the same problems they have. That there are women who worry about the same things they do–for example, the rising cost of college tuition and the daunting task of balancing work and family life. And through surveys, academic research and kicking off our social media presence, we’ve learned that there is a desire for this kind of media content and organization.

So yeah. I’m 22 years old. But I’m not using storytelling as an excuse to travel around with my friends. I’m using storytelling as a solution to a very real problem.

And I know the road won’t be easy. You’re talking to the girl who worked 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. all week only to go home and work until 1 a.m. on grant applications for Driven.

And when things got difficult this past week, I turned to two sources for inspiration. I ran through the Reese News Lab framework in my head, “Okay we have demonstrated desirability. Feasiblity? Totally, we can totally make that happen. Viability, yeah that’s where we need to do a lot of work.”

And I turned to the video of the speech that Jason Kilar, founder of Vessel and Hulu, gave at my graduation only days earlier. In his speech he said, “If you think that the world is broken in a certain way, and you have a great idea to fix it, do yourself a favor and follow your convictions relentlessly. The path I describe will be an uncertain one but don’t let the fear of uncertainty–of not having all the answers–be the thing that holds you back from pursuing your dreams.”

I am honored to call myself an alumna of the same university as Kilar. I’m also honored to have the chance to make a real difference in this world. I may seem like just a kid looking to go on a joy ride, but I promise I won’t stop driving until there’s a space in the media where young women can go to make sense of their lives and believe in their potential.

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