The first episode of the third season of “Good Luck America" aired this morning, and focused on the debate concerning the Confederate statues in Richmond, Virginia.
“Good Luck America," a news show produced by Snapchat that contextualizes the shifting political scene for younger consumers of news, is hosted by Snapchat's head of news, journalist Peter Hamby.
Richmond is Hamby’s hometown, and he told The Collegian in an exclusive interview that he has noticed change both culturally as well as politically in the years since he grew up here.
“When I grew up [in Richmond], Henrico county voted Republican, strongly and statewide, in presidential elections,” Hamby said in a phone interview. “And then, when Tim Kaine ran for governor in 2005, that was the first time Henrico went blue. That has a lot to do with shifting cultural attitudes, and the statue debate is at the center of that.”
The first episode of season three is just shy of four minutes long, but includes interviews with Richmond citizens, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe, reporter Jeff Schapiro from the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Richmond City Councilman Michael Jones and Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney.
In the episode, Hamby doesn’t tell the viewer what to think. Instead, he brings issues to the surface while remaining unbiased by genuinely listening to responses.
“I think one thing that the national political media does poorly, quite frankly, is they just don’t listen,” Hamby said. “It’s very important, when you talk to regular people, just to listen to their perspective, and to feel like you’re allowed to push back on something that smells a little funny, but not to smear or talk down to people.”
As a young, white male growing up in Richmond, Hamby said he took for granted that all the statues in Richmond were part of history.
“I was in high school when they put Arthur Ashe up there," Hamby said. "I thought that was really great."
Not everyone shared his support for the statue of Ashe, which Hamby accepted. Now, after the August statue protests in Charlottesville, a larger understanding of what these statues can represent is being discussed.
The episode also highlights the complexity and financial burden of removing the statues. During the episode, Mayor Stoney addressed his priorities for the city of Richmond.
“The dollars that I will invest will go to children and the people who are in need in this city before they will go to inanimate objects,” Stoney said. “Statues are important, but what’s even more important is impacting the lives of the living and the breathing right here in the city, and that’s what I took an oath to do.”
“Good Luck America” supports an overall dedication to Snapchat’s value of complete news coverage.
“At Snapchat we care about news," Hamby said. "We employ journalists to curate [and] contextualize the video coming in through our stories. We have shows like mine that have the addition of explaining what’s going on in politics to people."
Snapchat partners with different outlets on its Discover page, including The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal and CNN. These channels are “bringing the news to where young people are living, which is on Snapchat,” Hamby said.
Although Snapchat has been nimble in its adjustments to reach relevant audiences, the fundamentals of journalism remain the same. Hamby stressed the importance of consistency of these fundamentals in the constantly changing media landscape.
Hamby also emphasized why students at the University of Richmond should watch this particular episode of “Good Luck America.”
“There’s an incredible unfolding national story happening in your backyard,” Hamby said. “You can have a voice in it. If you care about these issues, politics is everywhere, at all times. It’s not just presidential politics that matters in this country. If you care about something, you can get involved at the city level.”
Contact managing editor Liza David at email@example.com.