On the Ground, Over the Air, Across Platforms, Viacom Supports Youth-Led March For Our Lives

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

Tomorrow, students will lead an extraordinary protest against gun violence and for improved gun safety, a March For Our Lives through the streets of Washington, D.C. and hundreds of other communities across the world. This youth community, marshaled in the wake of the Feb. 14 massacre in Parkland, Florida, will demand solutions to end the scourge of gun violence and school shootings in America.

Viacom proudly supports these students. On the streets, on the airwaves, on social media and on mobile devices and on every platform that its brands reach, Viacom will amplify these students’ message and their voice, will stand with them as they speak up to unambiguously state that their lives and their safety matter.

Viacom’s wide-ranging support for this student-led movement began in earnest last Wednesday, March 14, when all Viacom networks went dark for the 17 minutes of the National School Walkout, a mass coordinated effort to denounce the inaction and indifference that have accompanied the stubborn persistence of gun violence.

Most Viacom networks went dark during the 17 minutes of the National School Walkout on March 14, displaying this message of solidarity in place of regular programming.

Here’s a deeper look at how Viacom’s brands will be supporting the March For Our Lives:

MTV

Seventeen people lost their lives in the Parkland shooting. More than 17 young people die* from gun violence every day in America.

On Saturday, MTV, in partnership with the NAACP and local youth organizations, will send 17 buses of young people from Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, New York City, and other communities suffering from intractable gun violence. The network will complement this on-the-streets effort with live MTV News and Social coverage.

MTV will have plenty of help to bolster the message: singer-songwriter Vic Mensa will take control of the network’s Instagram Stories account, while Jennifer Lopez, Jimmy Fallon, The Roots, Pusha T, Halsey, Carmelo Anthony and Chloe x Halle will deliver messages of support and encouragement to the marchers.

“Once again young people are at the forefront of driving change,” said Chris McCarthy, President of MTV. Referring to a national network-led study** conducted post-Parkland to analyze teen’s reactions to gun violence, McCarthy continued, “Today’s study revealed an overwhelming 75 percent of teens polled are ‘not going to wait until they are adults to make real political change,’ and MTV is proud to amplify this youth-led activism.”

The MTV study also revealed that 69 percent of teenagers are angry that the government isn’t doing enough to prevent gun violence, and 74 percent believe adults are underestimating young people’s political power.

Comedy Central 

The main players in Comedy Central’s bustling late-night universe have been demonstrating their support for the students from a variety of different angles. Last night, Comedy Central’s The Opposition w/ Jordan Klepper traveled to Maryland to host U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ), before an audience of teens, many of whom plan to march tomorrow.

“Change has never in history come from Washington,” Booker said, “it has come to Washington.”

The Opposition Chaperones Democracy: Kids Just Wanna Take Guns also transported viewers into a Baltimore high school, where correspondent Kobi Libii interviewed students who are frustrated and fed up with local gun violence:

Earlier today, Comedy Central released a clip of Trevor Noah discussing the march and the shooting’s aftermath with five students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, where the Parkland shooting occurred.

When The Jim Jefferies Show returns to Comedy Central next Tuesday, the show will broadcast a segment filmed on the ground at the San Diego March For Our Lives rally. Jefferies, who is entering his second season hosting the show, is a long-time champion of reforms to curb gun violence.

TV Land

The casts of two of TV Land’s most popular originals, Younger and Teachers, each put together messages of support for the students:

*On average, 19.4 young people aged 24 and under die by gun violence every day. Source – Everytown analysis: CDC Fatal Injury Reports (WISQARS), data for 2012-2016.

**MTV’s “Teens React: Gun Violence and Youth Activism” is a nationally representative survey of 500 teens, aged 14-17 between March 7-12, 2018

Kids’ Choice Awards 2018: Live Updates

On Friday, March 23, I began live blogging my Kids’ Choice Awards experience as a Viacom insider. Here’s what went down.

This post was originally published on Medium.

A sublime experience

I left the Forum about two hours ago (7 p.m. PST) and it’s finally setting in that the KCAs are over. And to be honest, I was a bit relieved — not that the event was over, but that I had successfully made it from New York to Los Angeles, to pre-parties, to the press tent (I got lost twice), to the Orange Carpet and finally to my seat.

John Cena gets slimed. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic)

As I was live blogging, my goal was to try and keep my “live” coverage to a minimum — a paradox, I know. But as any child of the internet age knows, you can’t truly experience anything if you’re trying to document it in real-time. I’ve made this mistake many times in life — professional and personal — and the lesson is, you retain much more about whatever’s happening in front of you if you focus your attention on what is in front of you, not at your phone or notepad.

Here’s what stuck with me.

Read More

Viacom to Support Courageous Youth Activists Who Have Had Enough of Gun Violence

by Stuart Winchester, Viacom

February 27, 2018 – Parkland, Florida, United States: Volunteers hang banners, including this one reading “Stay strong, Stoneman Douglas, we’re with you,” around the perimeter of Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school to welcome back students who returned to school on Feb. 28, two weeks after the mass shooting that killed 17 students and staff. (Susan Stocker/SF Sun Sentinel/Polaris)

In the weeks since a gunman claimed 17 lives at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, courageous young people have marched and raised their voices to demand action on gun violence in the United States.

Viacom and its brands have a long history of supporting young people’s movements around the world, and today the company is extending that tradition by leveraging its substantial multi-platform footprint to support these extraordinary individuals and amplify the reach and impact of their activism.

This series of efforts across MTV, BET, Nickelodeon, Paramount Network, Comedy Central, TV Land, CMT and other properties will include partnerships with a coalition of organizations and students that are working to make America’s schools safer and reduce gun violence.

In addition, Shari Redstone, Vice Chair of Viacom’s Board, is personally championing the work of the student activists, contributing time and resources, including a $500,000 donation, to the March For Our Lives movement.

“This generation continues to be the driving force for change,” said Viacom Executive Vice President of Global Inclusion Marva Smalls. “With more than 17 young people dying from gun violence every single day, unfortunately no community is safe. We believe it’s critical to support the inspiring efforts of our youth, who are literally fighting for their lives. Viacom also has a responsibility to our audiences to do everything we can to elevate the many brave and bold activists to help them extend the reach and impact of their voices in this important movement.”

Here’s a sampling of the initiatives that Viacom brands have planned for the weeks ahead:

A pause to remember the victims

At 10 a.m. on Wednesday, March 14, all Viacom networks and platforms will suspend regularly scheduled programming for 17 minutes. This pause will coincide with the National School Walkout, a tribute to the 17 lives lost in the Parkland shooting, and to all young victims of gun violence. Students across the country will take over MTV’s social media accounts during the walkout.

The power of Viacom’s united brands support a march on Washington

Viacom’s brands will drive awareness of March For Our Lives through extensive on-air and digital coverage, as well as on-the-ground initiatives, leading up to the March For Our Lives demonstration in Washington, D.C. on March 24. MTV and Comedy Central will change the color of their logos to orange – in support of gun violence awareness – for the 10 days leading up to the event. The Daily Show with Trevor Noah plans to continue its ongoing coverage of the growing anti-gun violence movement in the country. So will The Opposition w/ Jordan Klepper, which will build on its recent interviews with students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School as well as educators and former military officials on arming teachers, and the 2017 special he produced, Jordan Klepper Solves Guns. Paramount Network will capture powerful first-person accounts for its pro-social initiative. Nickelodeon’s Kids’ Choice Awards, which airs that night, will acknowledge the march for its audience of millions.

Supporting efforts to reduce gun violence

Viacom networks have begun an array of ongoing initiatives aimed at curbing gun violence over the long term. For example, MTV has set up a website where people can learn how to take further action, BET will award DISARM pop-up grants to youth activists with innovative ideas about addressing gun violence and mental health issues, and CMT will work with the country music industry on its efforts to support gun safety.

Joining gun safety leaders to drive change

Viacom is partnering with organizations across the spectrum to develop gun safety-related projects for Viacommunity Day, Viacom’s annual day of community service, on April 20.

Get Schooled expands its curriculum

Get Schooled, an organization founded through a partnership between Viacom and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, will expand its efforts to educate young people on the actions they can take to participate in the national discussion.

*On average, 19.4 young people aged 24 and under die by gun violence every day. Source – Everytown analysis: CDC Fatal Injury Reports (WISQARS), data for 2012-2016.