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Many news organisations are still trying to crack the code when it comes to serving their younger audiences. They can now be reached across a variety of social media platforms, but how can journalists best tell a story to capture their interest?

Paris-based News-Decoder, a not-for-profit organisation, is aiming to build a 'borderless community' where people around the world can connect with each other, journalists and experts to explore and understand the issues that make it into the news.
"One of the paradoxes of modern technology is that young people are actually very familiar with breaking news, because they see it on their smartphones and social media," said Nelson Graves, founder of News-Decoder and a former Reuters journalist.

"But the background to these events and how they connect to one another across the world are not always apparent."

Our work is perhaps based on a controversial premise, which is that young people are actually very interested in learning about the worldNelson Graves, News-Decoder
He believes that although social media is global, "many of the communities that form within it and other forms of media are centred around a person's nation or region, which is why we are trying to create a global form."

News-Decoder kicked off at the beginning of the year, but is currently still in beta stage. The website features commentary from experts and ex-Reuters journalists on topics such as China's economy and the Iran nuclear deal.

The platform also has a 'decoder' section, where past and current paid interns are explaining the bigger pictures behind issues like human rights or the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The website is public and open to everyone, but News-Decoder is now working to launch a closed forum, where students and academics from ten institutions will take part in its pilot phase.

The institutions, based in the US, Hong Kong, Jordan, Greece and the UK, will each pick an international issue or theme to explore for the duration of the pilot.

The program will aim to start at the beginning of the academic year and last between six and nine months. During this time, high school, university and graduate students will work together with academics and experts to produce stories and explain global news.

"The issues will range from nuclear proliferation and global powers to conflict, economic development and human rights.

"These young people will be assuming position of leadership in government, business, NGOs in a relatively short period of time, so it's important to invest our time and energy to make sure they understand these issues as best as they can," Graves told

Graves explains why News-Decoder wants to build a "borderless community of young people".

The research, reporting and multimedia material produced in the forum, which will also include virtual events such as round table discussions, will only be available to members of the forum.

However, News-Decoder will also publish some of the work to showcase some of the journalism publicly.

Graves expects that the News-Decoder team, together with some experts and academics, will moderate the discussion and do "some vetting" in terms of the content that is produced, but the goal is to be "open-minded and experimental".

"Much of what's done in the news space nowadays is open, but we want our community to have a certain privacy to it.

"Hopefully, this will allow young people, who otherwise might feel shy about expressing their opinions or admitting that they don't know everything, to express themselves freely and not feel that they risk being denigrated immediately," said Graves.

If the pilot is successful, Graves hopes to sign up more institutions to the News-Decoder forum, as it allows them to "extend the horizons of their students and faculty and test ideas in a community where trust is paramount".

Graves hopes News-Decoder will be monetised in the future through subscriptions paid by academic institutions and through support from foundations.

"Our work is perhaps based on a controversial premise, which is that young people are actually very interested in learning about the world," he said.

"Social media allows them to explore areas around the world easily, so I think they have an appetite to learn about these issues – it's really a matter of bringing it together."

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