August 2, 2017

Traditional scholarly pursuits such as publishing white papers and hosting academic seminars in the “thinking” industry of non-profits often neglect crucial audiences in the battle for ideas. The Foundation for Economic Education (FEE) – an Atlas Network partner organization based in Atlanta, Ga. – has been hard at work developing effective ways to communicate the ideas of the freedom philosophy to young people using online media and advertising through its Youth Education & Audience Research ("YEAR") project, funded in large part by the John Templeton Foundation.

One recent addition to the YEAR project is the Common Sense Soapbox video series, a collection of short cartoons that “will help young people understand the importance of economic freedom better through a more light-hearted, youth-focused approach to tone and messaging,” explained Sean W. Malone, director of media at FEE. “We're using humor and Socratic examples, in tightly-paced short videos to hopefully get people to think about these concepts in ways they're most likely not exposed to otherwise.”

The most recent video and accompanying article tackle the health care mess in the United States.

Now that production is up and running, Malone hopes to produce two episodes each month. “Overall, my hope – which I believe is already being confirmed by early reactions – is that it will provide FEE with one great way of reaching younger audiences that may not already be aligned with FEE's mission and philosophies,” Malone continued. “We're also not going to be talking about solely economics with this series and will also focus on specific social issues like free speech and political correctness.”

Another Common Sense Soapbox video tackles myths around political correctness, urging viewers to instead be polite.

Common Sense Soapbox is one part of a larger set of media products FEE is creating to engage a diverse range of audiences. Malone detailed that expanding portfolio: “We have an on-going video podcast [called Words & Numbers] that talks about current events from the perspective of economist Antony Davies and political scientist James Harrigan. We also have a series called On the Frontlines, which features our president, Lawrence Reed, interviewing people who have experienced serious violations of freedom in other parts of the world. Our first episode is with Javier Garcia Hernandez, a Venezuelan political dissident who has recently applied for asylum in the United States after several of his friends had been beaten or killed by the Venezuelan government.”

FEE President Lawrence Reed interviews Javier Garcia Hernandez, a Venezuelan political dissident.

“We also have a new series of video essays that highlight classical liberal themes and ideas in pop culture called Out of Frame,” Malone continued. “Coming soon, we'll also start releasing a series of documentaries about female entrepreneurs that should present a positive and inspiring view of business to young women (and men) and we've got a ton of other projects in the pipeline.”

This installment of Out of Frame examines what is really so evil about the Galactic Empire in “Star Wars,” arguing that lack of individual freedom is what makes the Empire a terrible place to live for its citizens.

By building an “ecosystem” of dedicated series rather than one-off videos, FEE is positioning itself as a production studio and distribution network all wrapped into one. These different video series are providing high quality media content for a variety of audiences, allowing for FEE to create a customer funnel that converts casual viewers and readers into active participants of its seminars and courses.

Watch more of Common Sense Soapbox.

Watch the Words & Numbers Podcast.

Watch more of On the Frontlines.

Watch more of Out of Frame.