A message from Karen Edwards

In 2015, I became concerned about what I saw as a “misunderstanding crisis” in America.  I reached out to my extended family—black and white, in Iowa, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Arizona, Maryland, the Pacific Northwest and my hometown in Orange County. They were overwhelmed and didn’t know what information to trust. Young adults, especially, were tuning out. I began to wonder:  What if there was a service built from the start to avoid the noise and fake stuff? What if it worked like the apps my teens used? 

While I’m no Silicon Valley wunderkind, I am a mom on a mission. I also know a bit about media. My entire career has involved studying, creating, sponsoring, and promoting it.

My first experience was at age 16, at the then Knight-Ridder-owned Long Beach Press-Telegram. Back in the day, if customers didn’t like a political viewpoint in an article they phoned—yes—threatening to cancel their subscriptions. Part of my job was to hear them out, and encourage them to participate in the civic discourse by writing an op-ed. Many did. It was then that I learned the power of media to engage individuals, particularly in our democracy.

A few years later, I stopped out of college and worked at The Jakarta Post. At that time in Indonesia, press conference officials “reimbursed” reporters. We received envelopes of cash based on “attentiveness.” Meanwhile, in every copy of every international magazine, many articles were literally blacked out, in ink by hand. The State was controlling my eyes, ears, and pen. From this, I was motivated to return to college and learn all I could about the free press and democracy. I haven’t stopped. 

This has shaped a core value of mine: Everyone has the right to good information. It’s why I co-founded Common Sense Media, and now, Soap Public Media.

I’m doing this because I believe my extended family —and most Americans— don’t want to tune out.  We do care. I hope with Soap Public Media, we all can gain a shared understanding of what’s happening so we can create solutions for our future.

 – Karen

A message from Raj Narayan

Greetings,

As we all know, our country is suffering from growing polarity and animosity, partially resulting from today’s media, both social and news. People are drowning in content, suffering from growing information overload and mistrust. The current state of the news industry is the intersection of these problems. I chose to tackle them because of my love for my children, and because technology and my professional experience have advanced to the point that we can solve the problems of information overload and mistrust in the news.

My kids are the most important thing in my life. They are old enough now, 10 and 8, ages when they are trying to understand the world around them. So what they see is a lot of animosity and hatred. They see people being rewarded for being dishonest and mean to others, and they don’t understand why or how. It is not what they have learned at home or school, resulting in a LOT of dissonance; a lot of questions like “Daddy why did…?” or “Daddy how did…?”

I try to talk to them about these issues and try to instill hope in them about the world around them and in the goodness of people. With Soap Public Media, I can make a more substantial impact on them and others like them. I believe that we can make a real difference to their generation, if and when we can present what’s happening in the world around them honestly and inclusively without bias or prejudice, showing them all opinions on the spectrum.

In my career, I’ve spent the last 10-12 years building consumer products, studying human behavior, how they interact, the kind of content they consume, what they share, when and how etc. I’ve always felt that the current set of tools available to discover, consume and share content has been lacking. It has not been effective in helping consumers sift through the deluge of content to find what they are looking for, or to identify what is important to them. Soap’s core platform and technology aim to tackle this “information overload.” It is the logical next step in the product and technology path I’ve been on over the last decade.

With Soap I get to tackle the problems of information overload and mistrust in the news in a way that will benefit both my children and our broader society. Identifying and presenting different perspectives on current events is the first step to understanding. I hope you enjoy the Soap experience and that it solves your information overload problem as well!

– Raj

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