Americans are more media-saturated today than at any point in our history. We spend over eight hours a day, half our waking lives, immersing ourselves in media, whether that's watching TV, listening to the radio, or, increasingly, consuming web content.
The ease of creating, consuming, and sharing content online has given talented writers, video producers and other creators an unprecedented voice. The prominence of online media has led to young, "digitally native" content creators having a larger role than ever in shaping the national conversation.
The twentysomethings below are some of my personal picks who are helping to determine how we talk about issues such as politics, culture and identity in the 21st century.
1. Andres Gonzalez--CNN: Gonzalez writes about international affairs for CNN in Atlanta and has worked as an associate producer on CNN Today.
2. Harry Enten--FiveThirtyEight: This site has become a favorite of mine ever since Nate Silver started it a ways back. "Whiz Kid" Harry Enten is a senior political writer and analyst at the data-driven site, where he contributes to their written content and podcasts.
3. Rembert Browne--New York Magazine: Previously making waves at the now defunct Grantland, Browne has proven to be incredibly versatile in his ability to cover everything from pop culture to the violent Ferguson protests.
4. Heben Nigatu--Buzzfeed: Nigatu is a Senior Editor for Buzzfeed. Her podcast, "Another Round," which she co-hosts with Tracy Clayton, has reached hundreds of thousands, and is known for its laid-back style with its hosts drinking during episodes.
"We just don't take ourselves too seriously, people who would have been turned off by the drinking we would have lost them already," she told Slant.
5. Charlie Romano--Content Cavalry: Romano started his career with world-famous publishers, then moved over to advertising technology to bridge the connection between content creation and monetization. He recently co-founded Content Cavalry to help Fortune 500 brands connect with consumers.
"We saw brands trying to stay relevant by duplicating content and built a turnkey solution that allowed them to connect with their audience via custom, sponsorable, content," he says.
6. Todd Van Luling--Huffington Post: Promoted to Senior Staff Writer in October 2015, Van Luling writes "all about pop culture mysteries," according to his Tumblr.
7. Nisha Chittal--MSNBC: As Manager of Social Media and Community, Chittal is working largely in uncharted territory.
"The field is always evolving and changing and is relatively new, so there's no real established precedent for many of the things we do in social media," she told The Drum.
8. Eleanor Whitehead--The Economist: Anyone who believes millennials can't do serious journalism should check out Whitehead's excellent reporting on issues such as Boko Haram in her role as West Africa Correspondent.
9. Aaron Williams--San Francisco Chronicle: As Data Visualization Editor, Williams is on the forefront of a movement to make online content more interactive and easier to understand. His work won him the MJ Bear Fellowship from the Online News Association.
10. Chad Mumm--Vox Entertainment: I couldn't make this list without someone from Vox Media. Mumm is the youngest VP at Vox and, in addition to creating their video division, now runs Vox Entertainment.
11. Lam Thuy Vo--Wall Street Journal: A multi-platform journalist, Lam Thuy Vo has created data visualizations, interactives and breaking news stories for the Wall Street Journal, NPR's Planet Money and Al Jazeera America.
12. Amanda Gutterman--Slant: Gutterman co-founded Slant and helped create its 70 percent revenue share model for writers.
13. Mary Pilon--New York Times: Pilon is a different type of sports reporter, one whose stories often touch on the intersection of sports with business, politics and corruption. She also wrote a book about the creation of Monopoly.
"These things that we think are simple are very complicated," she told NPR.
14. Koda Wang--Rent The Runway: As a sign of the growing intersection between media and commerce, fashion startup Rent The Runway hired Wang away from The Huffington Post this year to be its Chief Customer Officer.
15. Cara Maresca--Twitter: As a part of Niche, which Twitter acquired in 2015, Maresca creates cross-platform campaigns connecting brands with influencers on various social networks. Before that, she wrote for MSNBC.
16. James Ball--Buzzfeed: Ball's investigative work, both for Buzzfeed and the Guardian before that, has uncovered massive stories about the Iraq War logs, Edward Snowden and the leaked State Department cables.
17. Derek Thompson--The Atlantic: As a business columnist and editor for The Atlantic, Thompson walks a fine line trying to make complex stories accessible for a large audience.
"Making serious news interesting without cheapening it is hard," he told Capital New York.
18. Callie Schweitzer--Time: Schweitzer works as Director of Audience Strategy, coordinating efforts between various departments to grow the site's audience. She's also been lauded for her excellent Twitter feed.
19. Laurie Segall--CNN: Segall is a tech correspondent for CNNMoney and has specialized in Silicon Valley and emerging tech.
20. Rachel Gogel--New York Times: When the New York Times finally embraced native advertising with its T Brand Studios, it turned to Gogel to serve as Creative Director, helping brands to tell their story without compromising the journalistic integrity of the publication.
21. Zach Seward--Quartz: Formerly the Social Media Editor at the Wall Street Journal, Seward now is a VP at Quartz, where he works on product development and audience growth while still writing about a variety of topics.
22. Alex Campbell--Buzzfeed: One of the first members of Buzzfeed's investigative unit, Campbell's reporting on domestic violence has won him wide acclaim.
23. Chris Giliberti--Gimlet Media: Giliberti manages operations and business development in his role as Chief of Staff for the recently launched podcast company Gimlet.
24. Mosa'ab Elshamy--Associated Press: Photojournalist Elshamy rose to prominence by capturing gripping images from Cairo during the Arab Spring, and he's continued to provide a lens for western audiences into the Middle Eastern world.
25. Chika Oduah--Freelance: Oduah's work has been published in the New York Times, Huffington Post, The Atlantic, CNN, and many more, and she serves as an outspoken advocate for women's rights in Africa.
26. Nick Scott--CNN: An award winning Multimedia Producer, Scott creates video content for CNN and tells stories through a variety of formats.
27. Tavi Gevinson--The Rookie: Gevinson's blog, Style Rookie, blew up when she was just 12, and she transitioned that fame into her current site, The Rookie, which focuses on fashion, pop culture and feminism.
28. David Karp--Tumblr/Yahoo: Karp founded the micro blogging site Tumblr, which was acquired by Yahoo for over $1 billion in 2013. Even with Yahoo's future uncertain, Karp has big ambitions.
"Hopefully we get this right, and Tumblr will be home to the most aspiring and talented creators all over the world," he told Inc.
29. Dan Fletcher--Beacon: Fletcher's on the forefront of the intersection between social media and journalism. He was a Social Media Director for Bloomberg and a Managing Editor at Facebook before founding Beacon, a crowdfunding site for journalists.
30. Emma Green--The Atlantic: Emma Green is Managing Editor of The Atlantic and writes about religion and culture.
These young journalists, designers, producers and entrepreneurs are already shaping our national discourse today. They're not just impacting the media we consume, but also the ways in which we interact with that media.