Baja Smugglers: Transporting News to the 18-34 Demographic on YouTube

This is a guest post by journalist Jesse Aizenstat originally written for the Huffington Post.  DNA went down to Mexico and filmed this documentary with Jesse a month or two ago.  Enjoy.

Young people don’t watch the news. The common understanding is that young people like reality TV, mindless television dramas, and are more addicted to those YouTube “cat chases the ball” videos than the actual cat.

But I think that network executives and media moguls simply haven’t found the right way to relate to the 18-34 demographic. And so I wonder, what would such programming look like? What would engage serious news, yet also be fun to sit down and watch?

The surge in drug smuggling from Baja, Mexico to the shores of California on panga boats is a hot news story, raising issues about immigration and drug reform. So I decided to make a travel/news documentary about this subject with my eye toward the 18-34 year-old audience.

Simply, this is my attempt as a filmmaker to relate immigration reform to a young demographic that is looking for a more experiential approach. So, how better than by driving down to Baja with a cameraman and a translator, making an adventure out of going to see what panga smuggling looks like in Baja.

For those not familiar with pangas, they are small, open-hulled fishing boats that have been crossing the U.S.-Mexican sea border, smuggling migrant workers or marijuana on all night trips into the United States. With over 205 panga crossings last year alone, Baja smugglers have captured the imagination of Californians, sparking interest from their daredevil tactics that result in a $4 million street value from one shipment of marijuana onto our beaches.

During our week in Mexico we interviewed a journalist and a scholar, we went to a panga smuggling seaport, and ventured into the desert where we talked with an actual smuggler. We were looking for an adventure, tied with issues of immigration reform, the increasingly militarized border, and the prospect that the U.S. government will commit a near $50 billion to secure our border.
Check it out. I look forward to your comments!

What do you think?