Snapshot: Breaking It Down

Chapman alum and White House aide Mitchell Rosenberg reflects on his journey creating the online political media platform Now Simplified.
Photograph Courtesy of Mitchell Rosenberg

During his first year at Chapman University as a TV production major in 2016, Rosenberg volunteered at an event for the Hillary Clinton campaign. He says he was bitten by the political bug and started learning about the ways in which policymaking can lead to large-scale change. After the event, Rosenberg decided to double major in political science, which eventually led him to create Now Simplified, a social media-based political platform that uses short videos and graphics to teach the public about topics such as climate change, the filibuster, Medicare for All, and gun reform. The Washington, D.C., resident now works with the group in an advisory capacity alongside his other job—associate director of special projects and personal aide to the second gentleman of the United States.

“For years, people asked me, ‘Why are you double majoring in television and political science? It doesn’t make sense.’ I always told people, ‘Because I’m learning a lot about storytelling.’ A lot of politics is storytelling and how you get people to actually pay attention to things that matter. Now Simplified is the exact byproduct of my education at Chapman and Northwestern University—where I earned a master’s in public policy and administration. It really just came into fruition with this project to find a new way, a creative way, to get people to pay attention, to get people to care.”

Now Simplified enables people to feel that they can go sit at a dinner table and have something that they can contribute to the conversation.

Before Now Simplified, whenever a news story broke or an election was happening, Rosenberg’s friends would text him to ask what they should do or what it meant. He began thinking about how he could educate his friends and others on the issues that news sites and channels were highlighting. “I figured there had to be a better way, because my friends are not alone in this. They’re not paying a ton of really close attention like I am, and not by fault of their own. It’s just that I’m interested in politics, so I choose to spend time reading and researching it.”

Wanting to have a solution that would invite people to learn the basics of government and political issues without intimidating them, Rosenberg formed the idea that would become Now Simplified. “It was just me in my bedroom, and I have funny pictures that my roommate took of me stacking 30 books on top of each other and putting the camera up there and trying to film myself doing an explainer video before we had (the graphic explainers).”

Since its start in April 2020, Now Simplified has grown to more than 150,000 followers on Instagram and 40 volunteer team members. “I’m the only one who actually works in politics, of all those people. Everyone brings forward a really unique perspective and also knows what the average person wants to know about.” 

This month, the platform turns its attention to covering the midterms. “We want to be ahead of the game (and) make sure that we’re covering them in a way that helps people really understand what’s happening and that gets people out to vote, since people often don’t in midterm elections. We’re really focused on building up our content leading up to that.”